Read: Numbers 21
THEME: To live life well we need to know that God is watching over us and engaging with us, especially when times are tough.
Few things in the wilderness were tougher than the plague caused by snake bites, especially as it hit as they began to move north on the last stage of their journey ready to enter the Promised Land from east of the river Jordan. Part of the pain for the people was that they realised the plague would never have happened if they had stayed faithful to God and relied on His protection.
But with God it is never too late to repent and he provided them with a means of healing that has become a symbol for medical practice worldwide – a snake on a pole. In some ways the remedy was unusual. Moses made a bronze model of a serpent and wrapped it around a tall stake so everybody in the camp could see it. God then healed whoever was prepared to look in the right direction. What is particularly strange, though, is that the snake on a pole has become a symbol for physical healing when its application goes much wider.
Much later Jesus was to apply the snake on a pole symbolism to His own death on the cross. The children of Israel knew that the healing they needed had to include forgiveness for their rebelliousness and that knowing such forgiveness was a large part of the reason why their recovery was like receiving a new lease of life.
It need be no different for us today. God still provides remedies in the midst of our wildernesses.