When things get difficult and discouraging, many will begin to whine, murmur, and complain. This is what the Israelites did throughout their journey through the wilderness. If they had only listened and obeyed God, they would not have been in the predicament that they were in. God had to continually give them instruction and chastisement to get them to understand, trust, and obey. Unfortunately, Christians of today act the same way. You would think that we today would learn from the lessons written in the Bible. But oh no, many have to learn the hard way.
This was not the first time Israel griped and complained.
In verses 4-5:
We see that the people of Israel had to travel beside the Red Sea around Edom because Edom would not give the right of passage (Numbers 20:14-22). Now the Israelites are again complaining about the manna that was given to them by God. Why is it that although God supplies our needs, people want to complain? They were not necessarily complaining at Moses but rather, they were complaining at God. They failed to see that it was their sin that caused this, and they tried to blame Moses.
In Psalm 78, we get familiar with the reason behind Israel's whining: they were not anchored with God, they would not comply with God's law, and they overlooked the miracles God had accomplished for them. Our grumbling regularly has its foundations in one of these negligent activities and perspectives. We need to manage the cause of our griping, that way it will not grab hold and develop in our lives.
In verses 6-7:
God utilized snakes to chastise the people for their unbelief and griping. There is an assortment of snakes in the Sinai desert. Some stow away in the sand and strike suddenly. Both the Israelites and the Egyptians had an incredible dread of snakes. The bite from a toxic snake frequently implied a moderate death with serious torment.
By God sending poisonous snakes into the camp as a judgment for the sins of the people, this revealed to them that they were the ones in sin. Then the people began to go to Moses and confessed their sins and asked for God's forgiveness. So, Moses prayed for the people and was instructed to make the brass serpent on a pole. Moses previously had to intercede for the people when they made the golden calf (Exodus 32).
In verses 8-9:
At the point when the brass snake was held to the post, the Israelites did not understand the full significance Jesus would bring to this occasion (John 3:14-15). Jesus clarified that similarly as the Israelites were healed of their ailment by looking at the snake on the post, everybody can be spared from the infection of transgression by looking to Jesus' death on the cross (John 12:32). It was not the snake that caused the people to be healed, yet their conviction that God could heal them. Their belief was manifested by their compliance to His instruction. Similarly, we should keep on looking to Christ (Hebrews 12:2).
For the people to be healed it took an act of faith in God. It was not because of the brass serpent. Unfortunately, many years later the Israelites turned that serpent into an idol of worship (2 Kings 18:4), which shows how easy it is for some people to take a tool or a person that God uses and turn it into something to worship. That is called idolatry and that is another sermon.
The lesson here is about faith. Christ died for us. Either you look to Christ as your Savior, or you do not. It is that simple. It does not matter how many or what church you joined, how many times you have been baptized, or any other action you have done. The only way to be saved is by believing in Jesus Christ and Him alone. It is not by any work that you may have done.
What does God have to do or allow to happen to get our attention today?