March 14: Looking for bronze snakes
Scroll down for complete Scripture.
In this Old Testament passage, God’s people are feeling forgotten and persecuted because of their wandering in the desert. The Israelites rebuke God with their desire to be back in Egypt where they held the place of slaves instead of the dry, barren desert. They challenge God with their claims and complaints and he responds, but not how they are expecting. God sends poisonous snakes throughout the Israelite camp and their bites kill many people. When the Israelites realize that God had indeed been with them and looking over them, they repent and construct a bronze snake as a symbol of healing, new life and God’s presence in their lives.
When I contemplate this story as we approach Easter, I am struck by the similarities between this Old Testament story and the story of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. In both stories God’s people have grown distant and rebellious, and in both stories God uses a very powerful event and memorable symbol to remind his people of their sin and forgiveness. In the New Testament, God uses the cross to awaken his people to his power, love and forgiveness. Through the cross God gave us healing and new life, as God did for the Israelites with the bronze snake. We can live because of God’s healing and Christ’s sacrifice.
It is fascinating how two stories so far apart can share such significant and encouraging images of God’s presence and power. He is there. We just need to look for the bronze snake or cross in our lives and be reminded of how blessed we are.