Stake n' Snake

It’s not unusual for God to temper His judgments with mercy and Israel’s snake experience was no exception. Some died immediately but for everyone else there was hope. God had Moses make a replica of a snake and place it on a pole. Everyone who looked up at the snake would be healed from its bite. God didn’t take away the consequence of their grumbling, but He did provide a way to take them through it. Leading us through something rather than taking it away, is still quite often His preferred response. We would do well to think about this as we shape our petitions and expectations.

Snake on a stake! It isn’t hard to imagine that many of the complainers would think this was an absolutely absurd idea. You can hear them: Have someone help me stagger outside my tent so I can take a look at a snake on a pole before I die? I’ll pass.

But there would be some desperate enough to do it. The ensuing celebration associated with their healing would attract the attention of others. Word would soon spread through the camp that looking at the snake would save your life—just as God had said through Moses.

Eyes on the snake made Israel confront their sin and led them to trust in the ones they had reviled (God and Moses). The reflective among them had to realize that if they could do this, they could surely find the faith to believe that God would continue to lead them through the wilderness. And choosing whether or not to trust Him was a life or death decision. 

There are many who think that God rescuing sin-bitten people today on the basis of His lifted up Son is an absurd idea. Perhaps they just need to see some healed people living celebratory lives.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him. (John 3:14-15)

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