6 So the Lord sent them poisonous snakes; they bit the people, and many of the Israelites died.7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we grumbled at you and the Lord. Pray that the Lord will take away these snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a bronze snake, and put it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, that person will live.”9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Then when a snake bit anyone, that person looked at the bronze snake and lived.
Numbers 21:6-9, NCV
Mass poisonings are not new. The children of Israel were under attack by thousands of snakes. I remember hearing of “Jonestown,” where on November 18, 1978 when 918 people drank “kool-aid”mixed with cyanide. The whole thing was based on Jim Jones‘ delusion and rampant paranoia.
Death on a mass scale is never easy to deal with. It seems brutal and capricious. Any survivors are forever tortured with “why me, and could I have known?” When people start dropping like flies the unspeakable nightmare is just getting started.
There are snakes in the camp of Israel, “fiery serpents” the older versions translate. The people had severely taken issue with God and Moses because the way was hard. They accused God of leading them out of Egypt, just so He could whole-scale destroy them.
And this became a self-fulfilling prophecy. God in response to their bitterness and murmuring unleashed these vicious snakes throughout the camp. They were quite poisonous, aggressively attacking random people. Their bites were not only painful, but deadly.
I venture to say that the effects of sin have a terrible tendency (and a purpose) to kill people. Its infection will work through our “blood stream” and be a certain poison that taints us. Now, if we could actually see the snakes we might just take the presence of sin a bit more seriously. But our particular viperous horde is seen on a spiritual level. We aren’t suddenly collapsing, and our sin doesn’t bring us immediate death. (A slow death, which is, maybe harder.)
Like it or not, inside of me there is a savage battlefield. Grace is healing me, and by faith the poison is being rendered inert. I admit, there are good days, and not-so-good ones. I can be most unsteady at times.
I read this somewhere, and it seems to explain much. I think it is more than a “cute” story. If we should take the time and “unzip it,” the truth will spill out.
“A fight is going on inside me,” said an old man to his son. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other wolf is good. he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you.”
The son thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Which wolf will win?”
The old man replied simply, “The one you feed.”
Snakes and wolves. Oh my. Read John 3:14 and 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Look to Jesus, who was lifted up. Fix your eyes on Him, and He will save.