Snakes on the Plain

God’s Story For Your Life

Snakes on the Plain
Read Numbers 21:4-9
Then the people of Israel set out from Mount
Hor, taking the road to the Red
Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the
people grew impatient with the long
journey, and they began to speak against
God and Moses. “Why have you brought
us out of Egypt to die here in the
wilderness?” they complained. “There is
nothing to eat here and nothing to
drink. And we hate this horrible manna!”

So the LORD sent poisonous
snakes among the people, and many were bitten and
died. Then the people came
to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking
against the LORD and
against you. Pray that the LORD will take away the
snakes.” So Moses prayed
for the people.

Then the LORD told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous
snake and attach it to
a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply
look at it!” So Moses made
a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole.
Then anyone who was bitten by
a snake could look at the bronze snake and be
healed! / (Numbers 21:4-9)

Psalm 78 reveals the
sources of Israel’s complaining: (1) their spirits were
not faithful to God
(verse 8); (2) they refused to obey God’s law (verse 10);
(3) they forgot the
miracles God had done for them (verse 11). Our complaining
often has its
roots in one of these thoughtless actions and attitudes. If we
can deal with
the cause of our complaining, it will not take hold and grow in

God used venomous snakes to punish the people for their unbelief
complaining. The Desert of Sinai has a variety of snakes. Some hide in
sand and attack without warning. Both the Israelites and the Egyptians
feared snakes. A bite by a poisonous snake often meant a slow death
intense suffering.

When Jesus came, he brought a fuller meaning
to this snake on a pole. Jesus
explained to Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up
the bronze snake on a pole in the
wilderness, so the Son of Man must be
lifted up, so that everyone who believes
in him will have eternal life” (John
3:14, 15). Just as the Israelites were
saved from death by looking at the
snake on the pole, all believers today can
be saved from the deadly effects
of sin by looking to Jesus on the cross. It
was not the snake that healed the
people, but God healed those who trusted
that God could heal them. They
demonstrated their faith by obeying God’s
instructions. In the same way, we
should continue to look to Christ (see

Often we question God about the suffering
and sin we see and experience. Just
like the Hebrews, those questions should
drive us to cry out to God. But God
didn’t just “take away the snakes”; God
went beyond their request and brought
healing. God uses all things—even
suffering and sin—for our good, by shaking
us free from what we’re holding on
to so that we can more deeply hold on to
him. What are you holding on to
today? Take hold of God instead.

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