Bible Book: Numbers / Numeri
Verse (to): 9
Text: Numbers 21:4-9
We read in John 3:14 that Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” So we automatically think of Jesus’ words in John 3:14 when we read the story (to which Jesus refers in Numbers 21:4-9. Yet, it is important to first listen carefully to the story as it is told to us in the book of Numbers.
One aspect of this story struck me: After Moses mediated with God for the repentant Israelites (verse 7), God didn’t immediately take away the snakes. He could have done it of course, because verse 6 says that it is He who sent the snakes. But God gave Moses the peculiar command to make a bronze snake and elevate it on a pole.
The road that God travels with us from a crisis or state of emergency to a solution, is often not the road we regard as the shortest and straightest.
For the Israelites in the desert, who were threatened by snakes, the snakes didn’t disappear like mist before the sun, but they received a sign of God’s compassion. Those who looked at this sign in faith (verse 9b) were healed.
Medication that could destroy the HI virus totally and a vaccine that would protect us from becoming infected would be a God-given solution to the crisis of the AIDS pandemic. We have to pray for this. Even though there is still no “quick solution” for the AIDS pandemic, it doesn’t mean that God’s mercy is not visible in this situation. We have the cross of Christ. The cross of Jesus is the sign of God’s grace in our broken world.
And we see so many signs of people who reach out with God’s compassionate love and who help.
We are called upon to put up signs of God’s compassion in the midst of the crisis. Even though we know that it’s not the final solution, we know that they are signs of God’s compassion.
Signs of love. Signs offering hope. Signs that make it possible to believe.
Author: N du Toit (Ds)