Friday, April 19th // Good Friday // Day 5
Have you ever been frustrated with God? Have you ever asked questions like, “why are YOU doing this to me?” or “why can’t YOU do something about this difficult situation?” We want to believe that God is loving and powerful, but sometimes our situation screams at us that either He doesn’t love us or that He isn’t powerful enough to save us. This was the situation of the Israelites as they wandered through the wilderness.
In Numbers 21 we read: 4 They (the Israelites) traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
So, what was going on here? Basically, Israel, because of their disobedience, has been wandering in the wilderness of doubt and discouragement. We see that in this story they are heading to the Red Sea…Stop…What? Isn’t this the same Red Sea they had passed through 40 years earlier as God miraculously parted the water? Yes, it was. The point is that they were walking around in circles! They wanted to go through Edom (the shortest route) but they had been turned back because they were denied passage by the king who lived there.
Maybe you can identify. Maybe you are frustrated because you feel like you are wandering around aimlessly in circles. Maybe you had an idea of the direction you wanted for your life only to have the door slammed in your face. Maybe you made a mistake and now you are forced to walk in the consequences of that choice. Maybe you are growing impatient with how long it seems to be taking God to fulfill His promises in your life.
The Israelites take it even one step further… They complain openly against God and His plan. Even though God was taking care of them in the wilderness, they were growing tired of the process. They don’t like the way God is providing, they want Him to do it their way. They don’t really trust His way, His promise, His provision. Can you identify?
So, the story continues: 6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 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. 8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
Here is the harsh reality…when we refuse to trust God and His way, we get bit! The word to describe these snakes in the Hebrew is “fiery”. When I read this I was immediately reminded of God’s judgement being described often in the Bible as fire. My temptation is to believe that God’s judgement is to destroy me, but what if it is to actually save me.
When my children were little, I would punish them when they demonstrated attitudes or behaviours that I knew would be destructive for them in the long term. So, my punishment wasn’t to hurt them, it was to correct them, so that they could experience something better in the future. It was always His plan to bring them into the promised land. It was always His plan to save them. God wasn’t the problem… They were. The obstacles they faced were their doing. The reason they were walking in circles is because they didn’t fully trust God. The reason they were experiencing judgement was because they believed the lie that God wasn’t powerful enough or loving enough to do what was best for them. They allowed their circumstance to be louder than the God who is above every situation.
So, in desperation, they cried out and they were delivered. This is, without a doubt, an image of what Jesus did for us on the cross. He took on our judgement and was placed on a cross. Jesus explained this clearly when he stated:
John 3:14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life.”
So, how do you perceive what God is doing in your life right now? Do you trust His plan and His promise, or are you complaining that He isn’t doing it your way… Have you even taken it one step further by actually blaming Him for your situation? If you are, could I encourage you today to be reminded that Jesus died on the Cross so that you could believe God is loving and that God keeps His promises. Could I encourage you to look to the Cross and be saved.