The Israelites had to go around th territory of Edom, so when they left Mount Hor, they headed south toward the Red Sea. But along the way, the people became so impatient that they complained against God and said to Moses, â€œDid you bring us out of Egypt, just to let us die in the desert? There’s no water out here, and we can’t stand this awful food!â€
Then the LORD sent poisonous snakes that bit and killed many of them. Numbers 21:4-6 (CEV)
They complained against God but whined to Moses. The writer knew who was really under fire from the people. He knew that he was just the messenger. It is a piece of knowledge for me to know. God gets all the glory. God gets the complaints also.
On the other side of the coin, God allows the complaints. He is big enough to handle them! But there are also consequences to speaking out against God and His plan. This story is one of the examples that many could point out the ‘harsh Father’. Sending snakes to bite and kill is harsh! However, God doesn’t leave it there when the Israelites learn their lesson and repent. He gives them a ‘rescue’ and it is a pre-vision to what will come. As the Israelites are saved when they look up to the snake on the pole so all generations to come will be saved when they look to the Savior on the cross. God is not the harsh Father but a merciful, forgiving Father. He does desire that all would come to know Him.
Like the Israelites my eyes see the ‘instant’ need in my life and so I whine about food and water and miss the bigger and more important problem â€“ I am spiritually dying! God could have given the Israelites five-course meals as easily as He gave them manna and water. God wanted His children to seek real food and praise Him for eternal life and not focus on the moment and its comfort! God was looking for obedience in the ‘little things’ so that He could lead them by obedience in the major moments.
â€œAnd the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert. Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.
God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them!â€ John 3:14-17 (CEV)