Good morning, Father!
Thank you for always waking me up in time, no matter what, whatever time I need to be up. I really appreciate not needing an alarm clock! It’s so awesome, those mornings when I just whisper to you, “Lord, please wake me up by — o’clock” — and you either wake me directly, or give me some jolt in a dream or in my mind, to get myself awake and aware suddenly. It’s always at just the right moment, even if the moment is slightly different from what I had in mind. Thank you, Lord! You are AWESOME!!! 😀
Lord, please guide me to something in your Word this morning that you want me to learn. Shine the light of your Spirit upon what I read, and give me understanding. Thanks!
John 3:14-15 ERV
“Moses lifted up the snake in the desert. It is the same with the Son of Man. He must be lifted up too. Then everyone who believes in him can have eternal life.”
These 2 verses come directly before the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16. They are words spoken by Jesus himself, in reference to the little story below:
Numbers 21:4-9 ERV
The Israelites left Mount Hor and traveled on the road that goes to the Red Sea. They did this to go around the country of Edom. But the people became impatient.
They began complaining against God and Moses. The people said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? We will die here in the desert! There is no bread and no water! And we hate this terrible food!”
So the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people. The snakes bit the people, and many of the Israelites died.
The people came to Moses and said, “We know that we sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD. Ask him to take away these snakes.” So Moses prayed for them.
The LORD said to Moses, “Make a bronze snake and put it on a pole. If anyone is bitten by a snake, that person should look at the bronze snake on the pole. Then that person will not die.”
So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Then when a snake bit anyone, that person looked at the bronze snake on the pole and lived.
This is one of the many Old Testament instances when a non-physical cure (as LOOKING is mostly a mental act) is provided for a physical ailment. And Jesus uses it in reference to himself and what he must do — be “lifted up” on a pole like Moses’ bronze serpent in the wilderness. Was it strictly the act of obedience that cured the Israelites, or was there some mental factor (psychosomatic — body/mind cure, even merely HOPE) involved? Of course, we need FAITH for the Cross to do its work in our lives, giving us the gift of life like these Israelites had their physical lives preserved. I truly wonder: 1) Would a blind Israelite have been cured for just believing in the bronze snake? 2) Does God honor people’s efforts when they reach a point of desperation and kneel before a crucifix, gazing at it and talking to Jesus, perhaps for the first time in their lives? Even if they walk away and basically forget about God ever after?
Regardless of exactly HOW or through WHAT God saved the lives of the Israelites, I think there is something even more significant here. It reminds me of how God does not always wake me up at the exact time I ask — yet His timing is always perfect, better than I could have managed with an alarm. He listens, He hears, He cares — but He does things His own way. Because He SEES more than I could ever see. And He is interested in the eternal change within me more than what happens in the moment. Likewise, the Israelites prayed for God to TAKE AWAY the snakes. We do not see Him doing this here. Instead, He provided a way for people to healed despite the snakes — to have the sting of death removed.
I Corinthians 15:55 KJV
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
In the same way, Jesus knew not to ask for His people to be removed from the “snakes” of the world — but to be kept safe from them.
John 17:15 ERV
“I am not asking you to take them out of the world. But I am asking that you keep them safe from the Evil One…”
Still more interesting to me is the sincerity and humility of the Israelite’s seemingly immediate confession of sinning against God (and Moses), highlighted in the Numbers verses above. While they were quick to judge their hunger and general discomfort as a sign of God’s lack of care — perhaps something they could take care of themselves in Egypt if given the chance — they clearly recognized death by snakes as something bigger than them, something they needed God’s help with. The “punishment” God gave them served to humble them, put them in a more receptive mindset — their NEED replaced their GREED and they got their eyes back on God! Hmmm. Interesting. This is a good lesson for me to “digest” over the coming days. Lord, please show me how these truths apply to my own little life. Let your Holy Spirit teach me and show me what I do not yet see. Thank you, Faithful One! 😀