God’s answer to our rebellion
By Ysrael De la Cruz
You will encounter hardship or difficulties in every journey or adventure you take in this life. Things may not always go as you planned or expected. You are traveling somewhere, but there is construction, d-tours, accidents, the weather; there are a great many challenges you will have to overcome before you reach your destination. Reaching your goal is rewarding but getting there won’t be easy; It will require lots of endurance on your part. Sometimes, people quit and never reach their destination because of the hardships they encounter on their journey. They become impatient and give up due to the hardships they encounter.
The nation of Israel was traveling in the wilderness and they experienced all kinds of hardships; the moment they were delivered from slavery, their journey to the Promised Land was no sunshine and rainbows. It was difficult. Things did not always go as they expected. Israel was in Kadesh and Moses sent messengers to the King of Edom to request permission to pass through, but the king said that if they came near their territory, he would attack Israel. Therefore, Israel had to go around Edom. (Num.20:17-21)
Israel traveled from Kadesh to Mount Hor. Aaron died on this mountain and the people mourned for him thirty days. (Num20:29) Now Moses must lead the nation by himself.
v.4 This tells us about the rout Israel had to take once he was denied entrance to the land of Edom (to go around the land of Edom) This would make the journey even longer (see map).
The people became impatient on the way. (v.4)
There is always danger in becoming impatient; the people began to complain and speak against God and against Moses. Why have you…….? (v.5)
When people become impatient, they easily lash out at others, they speak evil against other people. They lose focus and purpose.
“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.”
The people complained about God bringing them out of Egypt. They had forgotten God’s purpose in freeing them from slavery. This is what happened when people become impatient. They disregarded God’s provision and protection up to that point. They called God’s food worthless. This is speaking against God’s provision. They claimed to detest (loathe) the manna.
How did God respond to their rebellion? (v.6)
God sent poisonous snakes among the people who bit the people, and many died. fiery serpents” This figure of speech (metonymy) probably describes the venomous and painful results of snakebite.
God punished Israel for their complain and slander against God and his servant Moses. Every time God’s people complained or grumbled about their situation, God would teach them a lesson.
The recognized their sin in speaking against God and Moses. (v.7)
They came to Moses, the very person they complained about and slandered many times on their journey.
-“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.”
God teaches us in the way he responds. (v.8)
“Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”
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.
-God did not answer the prayer as they wanted. They wanted the poisonous snakes out. God did not remove the venomous snakes from their midst; but he provided an antidote to their bites. God did not take the problem away, he provided a solution to the problem. God did not remove the Red Sea; he made a way through it.
-God’s answer teaches us patience.
Israel had to wait for God’s solution to arrive in their midst of their turmoil and agony. Moses must collect the bronze from the people, get a fire stated, melt the medal and fashion it into a snake on a pole, then lift it up so that people would see it and live. God taught the people patience in his provision that day.
God always provides, but his provision to our problems does not always come as we expect.
God has provided a solution to our rebellion, to our sin problem in the world. We too feel the effect of sin’s bite in ourselves and around us. God provided a solution to the evil problem in the world. Sometimes people ask why God does not take evil away from our midst? But God has provided a remedy to our sin and evil problem in our world. Jesus used this story to remind a Jewish rabi named Nicodemus how God has responded to our rebellion.
14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
Jesus is the remedy to our sin problem and evil in our society. God provided him so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.