Numbers: the book of… well, numbers—so many of them that they put a lot of people off the reading. But once you start wending your way around all those stats, you soon can see it as what I heard someone once call it: “The book of mistakes!”
“Mistakes” is a nice euphemism for lousy, sinful, God dishonoring attitudes and behaviors! But God still provided a remedy…
The Besetting Sin
In Numbers 21:3-9 God had just given the people major victory. Before that He’d delivered them from Egypt, the figurative representation of sin and life apart from God. He’d accomplished stunning miracles. He’d never let them down in meeting their needs. But they got discouraged anyway, saw everything in the negative, resumed the whining and complaining and ranting against Moses—and God! How could they?
I hate to admit it, but they sound too much like me sometimes. I think my besetting sin might be discouragement. Second after that comes private whining, grumping, complaining. Not a small thing! If you let that get hold of you, you quit—or you maybe even grumble against God Himself! Or you veer off the way of Truth onto a side road of disbelief and disobedience.
Honesty before God is one thing. This Numbers kind of attitude is quite another. So, to say the least, God was not pleased! “He sent fiery serpents among them,” that bit them, and many died.
Then they admitted their sinful attitude, and God provided a remedy—and what a picture it is!
That bronze serpent on a pole represented their sin. If they expected deliverance, they had to look on that, thus facing/acknowledging their sin.
Millennia later, Jesus made an announcement before going to the cross: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). He knew very well where He was going, and what horror lay ahead, but willingly “became sin” for us on the “pole”/“tree”/cross.
Here’s where I have to get honest—and tough—with myself:
I can’t help having inherited at birth a sin nature, passed all the way down from Adam and Eve–or my helplessness to remedy that state of soul.
But now that Christ has become my salvation, and He has sent His Holy Spirit and His power over sin into my life, how can I lightly pass over the fact that every time I go into one of my stinking-thinking attitude sins, it’s like I’m adding another whip lash or hammer blow to Christ’s agony?
Very sobering. Let it keep me sober. Maybe I should place a reminder somewhere prominent–Numbers 21:4-9 printed on a card, perhaps,or a picture of the serpent on the pole—to keep myself from slipping into this evil thought mode. And when I do inadvertently slip, to catch myself and fess up fast to my Savior, according to 1 John 1:9, which is, in a way, a New Testament equivalent of looking on that serpent on the pole in Numbers.