Nothing is standing in your way, but you.
Moses stopped mid step. Voices drifted around the tent he’d been about to pass. Apprehension crawled up his arms like spiders. He peeked around the edge of the tent and saw Deuel and Gameliel.
“Can you believe it?,” demanded Deuel. “Why won’t God and Moses give us anything but this flaky manna to eat? It gets stuck in my dry throat and coats my swollen tongue. Is it too much to ask for some decent food and water?”
Gameliel nodded his agreement. He wrinkled his forehead. “I’m sick and tired of it too.” Sweat trickled down his brow. “You would think that with this many men, God would give us a competent leader.
If only this was the one time he’d heard that complaint this week, but rumbling discontent rolled through the camp. He clenched his hands into fists. Frustration forced his heart to speed up. Would these people ever stop complaining? He was trying, really trying to lead them as he trusted God to show him the way. They just couldn’t seem to be happy for very long. How would God respond to this new onslaught of whining? He might have to convince God not to wipe them off the face of the earth . . . again.
Rustling in the bushes beside him drew his attention. A shiny black snake flashed past the toe of his sandal. Moses jerked his foot back. His heart raced. That was a mole viper. Its fangs contained the liquid of death. And that particular snake was not small. Moses wiped his sweaty palms on his tunic and swallowed hard.
A scream punctured the air. Moses ran around the tent. Deuel lay writhing in the dirt. “It bit me!” His voice crackled with terror. He gripped his chest. His nails scratched and caught at his tunic. The old cloth tore beneath his grip. “Burns . . .” he gasped, “It burns.” He drew in ragged breaths.
Gameliel just stared at the man before him. His mouth was open in shock and his hands shook. Moses squatted beside Deuel.
“It flashed past me and bit Deuel in the thigh, then disappeared into the bushes over there.” Gaeliel’s shaking finger pointed to his right. He looked at Moses. His dark eyes were large with fear. “W-what should we do?”
Moses ran his hand over his hair and exhaled. Another scream filled the air, then another, and another. “I don’t know,” Moses turned in a circle and watched as the camp erupted into a flurry of activity. Men and women ran to him. Many nearly stomped on the prone Deuel before they stopped.
The people cried to Moses, ‘Please,” they pleaded, “We have complained against you and God.” Many threw themselves at Moses’s feet, their faces pressed into the dirt. “Pray for us,” they begged. “Pray that God will remove the snakes.”
Moses looked above their heads and saw the quick movement of black snakes writhing among the tents. Many coiled and struck as he watched. He looked back to the people, nodded, and ran toward the tabernacle. The hot sun burned his back as he ran. It seemed much hotter than a few moments ago.
Moses prayed fervently. These people could get on his nerves so easily, but he didn’t want any harm to come to them. And then God spoke. If the people were to be saved, Moses had a task before him. The screams seeped through the thick fabric of the tabernacle and Moses jumped to his feet. He ran to the closets metal worker’s tent, grabbed tools, and demanded, “Gather enough bronze to make a snake about so big.” He held his hand out to show the width and then the height. The smith stuttered and then ran to obey.
Hours later, Moses lifted a staff up. Gleaming on the top of it sat a coiled bronze snake. Moses walked slower than he wished, but he was exhausted. He carried the pole to the center of the camp and thrust it forcefully into the ground. It sank in easier than he thought it would. When he let go of the pole, the snake quivered atop it, then stood still like a standard of war.
The people around him gaped at the bronze snake, then turned questioning eyes to him.
Moses pointed to the snake, “If someone is bitten, he may come here and look at the snake, and God will heal him. He will live. Spread the word through camp.”
Moses wobbled on tired legs. Joshua rushed to him and draped Moses arm over his shoulder. “Come,” he spoke softly, “you must rest.”
Moses frowned. “Who will make sure they look upon the snake.”
Joshua quirked one side of his mouth in a half grin, “I think that’s rather the point, each person must decide if he is willing to look upon the statue and live.” He craned his neck to look Moses in the eye, “Do you think God wants us to be forced into salvation, or does He want us to choose it?”
Moses grunted and nodded in assent. The deaths of those who would not look upon the standard weighed heavily on his heart. He had led these people for a long time and knew that some would rather die than submit to God’s simple plan.
Sure enough, as he walked through the camp he heard angry shouts. Family members physically dragged loved ones, who weakly fought them, toward the center of camp.
One man stood in front of his tent, jumped and grabbed the back of his leg. A shinny mole viper rushed beneath his upraised leg and toward another tent. The man gritted his teeth and looked at Moses. Anger and resentment made his eyes harsh and ugly. He shook his fist at Moses, “This is your fault, I will not look at a stupid bronze snake!” He turned on his good leg and entered his tent.
What about you? Have you looked upon Jesus and found salvation?
John 3:14-15 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” NASB
Don’t let the poison of sin take you into eternal death and torment. All you must do is look to Jesus. He is the only way to find eternal life. He paid the ultimate price, by dying for your infractions. Better yet, He even beat death when He rose, alive three days later. Is it really too much to ask that you acknowledge your rebellion against God and then thank Jesus for serving your sentence?
If you have taken the first look at your savior and gained eternal life, have you chosen to surrender everything to Him? Your plans, health, spouse, children, control. Isn’t it strange that we have to surrender something that we never really had? Control is something that we don’t have now and never have had, yet we cling to the illusion with teeth bared and fists clenched. I confess that I get a little annoyed that I have to surrender these things day by day and moment by moment, repeatedly, but is our Lord asking too much? I don’t think so. Will you join with me today in surrendering our deepest hurts, fears, joys, worries, what if’s and the illusion of control?
I think today is going to be FANTASTIC.
This was a dramatization of Numbers 21:4-9
I invite you to dive into the world of Ta-Val and take a journey with Brehane as he decides who to trust. Do you like the dramatization above? In The Presence of Shadows I dramatize the lives and event of the Kings and prophets of Israel. It is the first book in the Chronicles of Kings and Dragons series.
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