What is the length of God’s love? I suppose that’s the positive way to speak of God’s patience. Have you ever heard the question, “Are we there yet?” Let’s say that you were a child walking through the wilderness in-between Egypt and Canaan. You’ve been doing this your whole life and one day you ask, why are we doing this? We aren’t going anywhere – at all. That would be a painful conversation with your folks who would explain to you that God was waiting for a whole generation to die – all because of unbelief. They didn’t believe that God would keep his promise to give them the land of Canaan. The judgment from God was that they would walk for the next forty years – this included Moses!
Fast forward forty years and everyone from that generation – with the exception of Joshua and Caleb – had died. It’s time. Are we there yet? YES! Ok, ALMOST! Talk about the length of God’s love! For forty years he kept them safe! We are done wandering and we’re FINALLY headed to the promised land. How much of a lack of self awareness was there for the people to complain: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” (Numbers 21:5).
For their unbelief, God sent snakes – venomous snakes – into the camp. The God’s people quickly realized that they were in the wrong and cried out to God for deliverance. This is when god instructed Moses to make the bronze snake.
Are there any red flags that go off in your head when you hear this? Why is God calling on me (the Israelite) to do this? It sounds at first glance like an idol. Understand that it wasn’t the bronze snake that made people well after being bitten by a snake – it was trusting in God’s promise. I’m sure there were some who refused to look at the bronze snake and died of the venom. And the first person who had to trust God was Moses.
9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
The implications of this bronze snake go all the way 1500 years into the future to our Gospel lesson in John 3 when Jesus compares himself to it. Just as people trusted God’s Promise and looked at the snake so also all those who trust in Jesus will have their sins forgiven. How many think it is ridiculous to think that Jesus could save anyone from anything? God holds up Jesus as the only way to heaven.
Are we there yet? How long does it feel like you’ve been wandering in the wilderness of this life waiting until the day God will call you home to heaven? Honestly for me 44 years feels like a blink of an eye.
Speaker(s): Fred Guldberg