Scripture: Numbers 21:4-9
For someone who has a fear of snakes I really dislike this passage. Through the years I have often had reoccuring nightmares about a pit of snakes at the bottom of my bed. When this occured I would wake up in a panic curled up on my pillow. I would love to say that this is only a childhood dream, but I would be glossing over the truth. Even as an adult I have woken up in a panic with snakes at the footboard of my bed, the only difference is I am now to big to find saftey on my pillow. I say I dislike this pasage, but to be honest I do enjoy reading it because there is a place of safety from the snakes.
I contemplate this story and wonder, what are the snakes and where did they come from? The snake is a symbol of the adversary to humanity and their relationship with God. In this case snakes are always deadly. They are hindering our lives, keeping us from fulfilling the purposes of our lives, and curupting the abundant life God promises to his people. Place yourself in the shoes of these Israelites, they are heading to the land of promise, yet they are distracted. They begin to complain and curse both God and Moses. Then the snakes begin to kill them off. This becomes a great epidemic, people are dying all around. Women and children are screaming, as well as men who try to act strong. The problem is that there is nowhere to turn for safety, no pillow to curl up on. Fear becomes a way of life. People re gripped by fear and the stres of the unknown.
Fear, stress, and various distractions do the same thing in our life. Our budgets get tighter and our mind quickly turns to trying to make the ends meet. A family member is ill and we become so worried that we foget to eat. In seemingly no time at all our life turns from being pleasant to a chaotic rush to fill the gap.
The people of Israel tured to Moses their spiritual leader for hope. Where do we turn? Without God we are left in the snake pit just hoping that just maybe the fangs will miss us. God through Moses provided redemption from the serpant by having the craftsman sculpt a likenes of the venomous demons, and placed it atop a pole. When the Children of Israel gazed upon this symbol the venom lost its effect.
Where does our redemption come from? It comes in refocusing ourlives on God. Remembering to take time to cultivate a relationship with Him through our snake whipserer Jesus. Christ showed us in His life a cycle of retreat and engagment, of prayer and service. He did this, taught his disciples to do this, and through the ages other have passed it on to us.
When we enter in and practice a lifestyle of prayer and service, we can handle the stresses of life more easily. I don’t mean that we will not have stresses or distractions, but as we develope and pursue a life in relationship with Christ we get bite but the venom does not set in when we turn to prayer.
I have to admit that this is difficult it is a stuggleto fit prayer into our lives. We work a full time job or multiple jobs , have families, and other commitments. We have shows to watch, meals to eat, but if we can adjust our lives to a lifestyle or a cycle of retreat and engagment we will find a new life.
I challenge each of you to read the scripture again and spend just 15 minutes imagining the scene, engage with Moses as if you were one being bitten. Gaze up at the broze snake up there on the pole, and remember The one who gave His life so you could be free from your own snakes. If you want leave a comment about your experience and let us pray together.