Look and Live

The context for Numbers 21:8-9 is the disobedient, complaining disposition of the people when they grew discouraged by the difficulty of their flight from Egypt. They actually began to speak against Moses and against God…not because they were without bread or water. They had manna and also water from a Rock; nevertheless they claimed they had neither regardless of the fact (as we learn in verse 5) that they “loathed” the bread God had provided. The consequence was that they provoked God to send fiery deadly serpents to bite them, resulting in many of them dying.

You might be saying to yourself, “That seems too harsh and it may even be unfair.” Yet, when the full narrative of the children of Israel’s flight from slavery is taken into account, it becomes evident that the Lord was patient, long-suffering, and merciful to them: From the very start, the people sinned with doubt and ingratitude while continually complaining, grumbling, and falsely accusing their leadership and the Lord about the the things they perceived were lacking. They had continually spurned, grieved, and provoked the Lord in the wilderness.

Yet, God in His great love and mercy provided a way for them to escape His judgement: They only needed to look upon the bronze serpent to live. Now we might think to ourselves, “This seems unfair…the Hebrews did not deserve such an easy way out” and we would be justified in our assessment. All that was required was for the people to ignore the biting snakes and give full attention to the bronze serpent on the pole; this even applied to those who had already been bitten and doomed to death—they could still look and live. It should be noted that two things had taken place in order for them to trust in the Lord’s deliverance: The people repented, and Moses prayed for them.

Numbers 21 provides critical lessons that are still true and applicable for these trying times today: God is good and loving at all times, and we can count on Him to provide our needs. Just as with the children of Israel, it is critical to remember to be grateful for all that He gives, not focus on what we think is lacking. Only then we will be able to refrain from grumbling and complaining so that we can endure with patience the difficulties of our earthly journey. Most importantly, we can with empowerment from the Holy Spirit, turn away from (repent of) our sins such as ingratitude, complaining and unbelief and place our trust in the One whom God provided for our deliverance—Jesus.

2 Replies to “Look and Live”

  1. We must remember in our daily lives to look to the cross for strength and healing.
    Even in our weakness and complaining Jesus is always there and provides.

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