4 They marched from Mount Hor on the Reed Sea road around the land of Edom. The people became impatient on the road. 5 The people spoke against God and Moses: “Why did you bring us up from Egypt to kill us in the desert, where there is no food or water. And we detest this miserable bread!” 6 So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people and they bit the people. Many of the Israelites died.
7 The people went to Moses and said, “We’ve sinned, for we spoke against the Lord and you. Pray to the Lord so that he will send the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous snake and place it on a pole. Whoever is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 Moses made a bronze snake and placed it on a pole. If a snake bit someone, that person could look at the bronze snake and live.
If you caught Sunday’s sermon, this was the text that Jesus referenced in John 3:14 comparing Moses putting the snake on the pole to the Messiah being raised up (either in exaltation or on the cross). In looking at the broader narrative, one thing that stands out to me is that the Israelites pray for God to send the poisonous snakes away from them. God does offer them a solution, but it’s not actually what they asked for. Instead of just sending the snakes away, which God could do with no problem, God gives them the responsibility. God offers them something that they could do when, probably inevitably, they are bitten by a snake. Now its up to them. God offered them everything they needed.
People being who people are, even with this solution God has offered them, I can only imagine that not everyone listened to it. Some may have even cried out that God didn’t answer their prayers. I think about the many times I’ve prayed for God to intervene on a part of my life, I then think my prayers were unheard or ignored, and then years later – realize that God was answering my prayers. God was just answering them in a different way then I thought, in what to me may even seem like an indirect way. All the while, I was crying out for God to answer my prayer. I wouldn’t be surprised if God ever gets frustrated with me, wondering, “I’ve given you everything you need to fix this problem, why won’t you do it?!”
I wonder what God is working on right now? What tools does God keep handing me that I look past? What will, years from now, be seen as God’s obvious handiwork? These questions will probably remain constant in my life, but that’s why trust in God is so important.
By Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
When has seemingly unanswered prayers affected your life? What did it do to your faith life? What was healing? What would it look like to add, “help me find more trust in you” to the end of every prayer you say this week?
Prayer: God, I know you’re working in my life in ways I’ve yet to see. You’re working in my life in ways I’ll never realize. Thank you, and help me to find more trust in you, Lord. Amen.