You need to know this one thing about me, I hear really well. Just a few weeks ago, we were having lunch and I overheard the conversation next to me. It was amazing! The man sharing was talking about coming together with over 200 people from different nations, each in repentance over what happened to the Jewish people. As he stood to leave, I told him that I had heard his conversation. I apologized and told him I would have made an excellent spy. However, I encouraged him and said that I thought the gathering of repentance was remarkable. He shared a bit more and went on his way.
I overheard more words today in church. The thought struck me again of how timing and choices, even where we sit, matters. Because if we had been running late and sat in a different spot, I would have missed whispered words. In the missing, I would have missed a blessing. It is not something I worry about. I just want to be led in the everyday to where God would have me, even in where we sit.
Our pastor was teaching from the book of Numbers and we heard about the poisonous snakes biting the Israelites. The people had once again been speaking against God and Moses. God is the best overhearer of words, both the spoken and the thought. Because of the complaining, death came to the people by way of snakes. A lesson is to be learned by us here as well.
“The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you. Intercede with the LORD so that he will take the snakes away from us.” And Moses interceded for the people.” (Numbers 21:7). Sometimes it takes extreme circumstances for us to realize our sin and ask for the LORD to save us. Goodness, I have so often come to the end of myself, my failing efforts, with no way out, and asked the LORD to save me. Have you been in this place before too? It is quite humbling.
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake image and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will recover.” So Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole. Whenever someone was bitten, and he looked at the bronze snake, he recovered.” (Numbers 21:8-9). Do you notice here that God did not take the snakes away like the people requested, but provided healing instead? So often I have asked God to take something hard away, but He leaves it and provides healing instead. It is only when I look to Him is this healing found. Nothing in the world can take His place.
Our pastor said that the number of Israelites probably covered like 12 square miles and the bitten people would have to make their way to the center of the camp to see the pole. It was then I overheard the words spoken behind me. A man said, “I would have run!” When you know where healing can be found, shouldn’t our response always be to run to it? For some reason, we so often try everything else but running to the only One who eternally heals. In our desperation, we instead exhaust ourselves with worldly bandaids that temporarily take our minds off of the poison of sin filling our hearts. This state of sin is much more deadly than a snake bite.
Our pastor also told us about the painful poison of the snakes that are common to the area the Israelites traveled. Sin too can be very painful to us and to those around us. Ever know someone whose selfishness causes great pain to those that love them? What about a bitter person and the words that fly from their heart? How about angry or prideful people? Then there are those of us that try and control anyone and everything because of the fear of not being enough and therefore not being loved. I wish I were only typing words that I had overheard people say, not from actually living them. Seems like we are all a bunch of snakebitten people in great need of healing.
It is just like our great God to provide true recovery. Our pastor used the verse from John 3:14-15 that says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” And there is our healing, our only true, eternal healing. Have you believed in Him yet and received healing? Today would be a good day. If you have looked to Jesus and received healing, why are we not telling everyone we know, all the bitten people we come in contact with, where they too can find healing? Just something to think about as we start a new week.
*If you want to listen to todays sermon, just go to https://www.ccbcfamily.org
*We do not own a pole with a bronze snake, so a boy and his sword was substituted.