Week of Monday, March 18 - March 24
Look and Live – Man as Provider
From Mount Hor they 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. - Numbers 21:4-9 ESV

I don’t like snakes, especially the kind with fangs that inject deadly venom. One time, we were on a joint military operation in Thailand, and I had my men out on small patrols. We received a call from one of those patrols that one of my men was suffering from heat exhaustion and needed to be medevacked to base for help. No sooner than that call came in and the chopper took off, another call came in from another patrol that one of the men had been bitten on the hand by a pit viper, which was far more serious. So, while the men on the ground tended to my soldier with heat exhaustion, keeping him hydrated and cooled down, the medevac chopper was redirected to get my snake bite victim first and bring him back to base. One of my men even captured the viper in a bag and brought it for proper ID. But the Thai medical personnel took one look at my snake-bitten soldier and said they couldn’t do anything for him and to send him on to Bangkok. We did, but the doctors who treated him there with anti-venom told us that he wasn’t going to make it. The pit viper is a deadly snake. However, they were used to treating 125-pound Thai men for snake bites, not a strapping 210-pound American soldier. By the grace of God, four days later, we took him home on a C5.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about multitudes in the camp of Israel who were bitten by venomous vipers in Numbers 21, events that happened near the end of Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness. God had been faithful to guide and provide for His people. Yet the Israelites had grown sick and tired of wandering through the wilderness, and they resorted to grumbling and complaining against God, His chosen leader Moses, and against God’s provision of manna. When God disciplined the people of Israel by sending fiery snakes to bite them, their venom was terminal, and many died.

Thankfully, the people realized they had sinned, confessed it, and pleaded with Moses to intercede. Moses graciously prayed, and God mercifully provided a strange antidote, a puzzling pathway to preserve life. God instructed Moses to fashion a bronze replica of one of those venomous vipers, lift it on a pole, and tell the people that those who looked to the bronze snake would live. Obviously, the bronze serpent itself did not have healing properties, but God spared the lives of those who obeyed His instruction and looked upon it out of faith.
We are more like the snake-bitten Israelites than we may realize. We are all infected with a lethal dose of venom called sin. Our condition is terminal. We need anti-venom, which is typically made using the venom of the viper. Think about what Paul said: “For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Sinless Jesus took our “infection” of sin upon Himself on the cross so that He could provide lifegiving “anti-venom” through His blood. He explained this concept to Nicodemus in John 3:14-15: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

There is no cure for sin’s deadly venom besides trusting in Jesus. We are called as men of God to witness to the cure for sin to those we influence, urging them to look to Jesus and live!

Have you personally looked to Jesus for the cure for your sin?
- Are you being intentional about lifting up Jesus and urging those you love and lead to confess their sins and look to Jesus, who took their sins upon Himself on the cross?
- Pray for God to use your life as a winsome witness to Jesus, pointing others to Him and depending on His promise: “And I…will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).