Faith in God’s provisions
“The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.” (7)
Do we have faith that our God will provide? Do we believe that, despite odds and probabilities, our God can overcome? Backsliding and unbelief characterized the Israelites’ 40-year journey through the wilderness. The Israelites would quickly forget what God had done for them and grumble about food or water.
In verse 5 of this passage, we see them speak out against God and his ability to provide for his people. First, this represents a lack of faith. The wilderness is one of the most hostile environments on the planet. Food and water are hard to come by for animals, let alone wandering humans. Complaining under these circumstances might seem understandable, but in doing so you are telling God this desert is bigger than him. In our lives we need to have faith that God is bigger than whatever “desert” we are in and that He can provide. He is that powerful and that loving.
Second, we can see the ironic element of this event. Verse 6 says that the Lord sent venomous snakes among them. Some of the Israelites were bitten and as a result died. In verse 7, the Israelites confessed their sins and asked Moses to pray to God to take away the snakes. God told Moses to erect a bronze snake and all who were sick should look upon it and be healed. The Israelites lacked the faith to believe God could do something as simple as providing them with food and water. However, they had the faith to believe God would take away the snakes. This is a dramatic reversal from their earlier lack of faith. The Israelites realized their sin at this moment and, much to their chagrin, knew that God truly was their provider and healer
This Lenten season let’s put everything into perspective. Our momentary needs and obstacles pale in comparison to the great faith we have. We can look upon the cross and be convinced of our great faith, a faith in a God who will provide for us and be with us in every situation. The passage does not say that God took away the venomous snakes from the Israelites. Rather, he told them to look to the bronze snake if they were bitter. God doesn’t take away the venomous snakes from our lives either. If we are bitten, however, look confidently at the cross for that is where healing is found.
Father God, we praise you for your grace and love, strengthen us to know you are our deliverance and provider despite whatever desert we may be in. Amen.
Cyril Abraham, St. John’s MTC, New York