Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Numbers 21:4-9

From Mount Hor [Moses and the Children of Israel] set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way.

And the people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food."

Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.

And the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us."

So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live."

So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live."
(emphasis - cdj)

They were impatient and rebellious.
They griped about there being no food, then contradicted their own complaints and confessed hatred for the food that was there.

God is not pleased.
He punishes them by sending snakes. Not just snakes to scare them. Snakes to bite them and cause them to die.

They repent. They cry for mercy.
God's solution: make a bronze snake. If anyone is bitten, he can look upon the image and be healed.

The pastor at Summit preached on this passage Sunday. I'm not sure he worded this next point exactly this way, but it's close:) Isn't this interesting...

of their punishment and pain
became the SOURCE
of their healing and hope.

I wonder if the same could be said about the cross.

As he continued his sermon, I began to think about the Israelites. God had rescued them from the wicked Pharaoh. But BEFORE he delivered them from the bad guys, He had delivered them from His own Holy wrath during the Passover and the plague of the firstborn.

The Bible says, "work out your salvation with fear and trembling".

This image of salvation is not so much a mass exodus of frightened refugees from Egypt as they flee and cry: "Oh, God...this is terrifying...fleeing from the evil one...I trust the Lord will make our path clear".

I believe it to be more like small, frightened families, trembling as they huddle together in their homes with fresh lamb's blood still dripping from the door and other surfaces, silently staring wide-eyed at each other as they wait and pray, "Oh, God...this is terrifying...facing the Holy One...I trust the Lord to stay clear."

Here is a passage from "Radical" by David Platt.

"Picture Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. As he kneels before the Father, drops of sweat and blood fall together from his head. Why is he in such agony and pain? The answer is not because he is afraid of crucifixion. He is not trembling because of what the Roman soldiers are about to do to him. We can rest assured he was not a coward about to face [the bad guys]. Instead he was a Savior about to endure divine wrath.

The modern gospel says,

'God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Therefore, follow these steps and you can be saved.'

Meanwhile, the biblical gospel says, 'You are an enemy of God, dead in your sin, and in your present state of rebellion, you are not even able to see that you need life, much less to cause yourself to come to life. Therefore, you are radically dependent on God to do something in your life that you could never do.'

The former sells books and draws crowds.

The latter saves souls.

Which is more important?"

"It was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace my fears relieved."