Monday, February 15, 2021

Bitten By Snakes

By Joe Chesser

    The Israelites were not very smart. That’s because they were people, and people aren’t very smart, especially when it comes to things pertaining to God. For example, there is a short story you can read in Numbers 21. At this point in Israel’s history they had experienced many awesome examples of God’s power and deliverance (10 plagues in Egypt; the parting of the Red Sea; manna from heaven; water from a rock, etc.). The immediate context of the story in Numbers 21 is the total defeat and destruction of the king of Arad, his people and towns, by the Israelites.
    God had answered their prayers for help (21.1-3). Evidently they had very short memories. As they traveled on from Arad, skirting around the nation of Edom, they became impatient with Moses and God and began voicing their negative opinions against them (21.4-5). They must have had the “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” syndrome. They asked dumb questions like, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert?” They complained, “There is no bread! There is no water! We detest this miserable food!” Sounds a lot like some of us when God doesn’t do for us what we think He should, doesn’t it? How quickly we forget the blessings of God.
    Most of the time, thankfully, God is patient with people (2 Peter 3.9). However, this wasn’t one of those times. God sent venomous snakes among them, and the snakes did what the snakes were sent to do – bite people. Many of the Israelites died (21.6). The people learned the hard way that complaining against God is not a good idea. Never has been, never will be. They also learned that confessing their sins to God is a good idea. So, when they confessed their sin, Moses prayed for the people, and God answered his prayer (21.7).
    But instead of sending the venomous snakes away from the Israelites, he had Moses make a bronze snake and mount it on a pole. God said, “anyone who is bitten can look at it and live” (21.8). The snakes still did what snakes do, but the people learned to trust God for deliverance from death by doing what God told them to do. Anyone who looked at the bronze snake lived. Surely there weren’t people stubborn enough to refuse to look at it!
    There’s more to the story, but it’s not about the Israelites, it’s about us. Their story has become our story. We, too, sin against God, all of us (Romans 3.23). The old serpent, Satan (Revelation 12.9), “bites” us with temptations which leads us to die spiritually (due to our sins). Yet, like them, God offers us hope. He doesn’t take away the temptations, but He does provide us a way to avoid death. “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3.14-15). Jesus is our only hope when bitten by Satan. Jesus was lifted up on the cross so that we can look to him (John 12.32) to overcome the deaths Satan desires.
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at

1 comment:

  1. I use Pages on my iPad for our bulletin. Can you tell me how to get the yellow background to go away.