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Obedience Leads to Life and Healing, a Bible Study Media Devotional

March 15, 2021

“Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.” - Number 21:6-9

Last week in the Gospel reading, we saw Jesus clear the temple of the moneychangers and those who were selling animals to be sacrificed to God. Jesus demonstrated holy anger against the sin and greed of those who were taking advantage of God’s people and using a place of worship as a place of commerce. Today, we read again of righteous anger towards sin and how that is demonstrated.

The nation of Israel was once again complaining against God and Moses. In times of impatience or frustration, the people asked why God had led them out of their bondage in Egypt to die in the wilderness. The first time they posed that question it was understandable. The Egyptian army was pursuing them with vigor and force, and the Israelites were trapped by the Red Sea behind them and the Egyptian army in front of them. Who could have imagined that God would open the waters of the Red Sea for them to pass through it? Now however, after all these years of seeing God’s miraculous work on their behalf, their question was ridiculous. They hadn’t died; they were still alive. The problem was not with God or with Moses; the problem was the people. Instead of being grateful for all that they had received, they constantly demanded more and were never satisfied.

Clearly, God was angry at their self-centered whininess, and he sent fiery serpents to come among them. That would have surely gotten their attention. Not only were these serpents within their camp, but they would bite the people and even kill the people. After some time with the fiery snakes, the Israelites came to their senses. They realized they had sinned against God and against Moses. Once again, they realized that they could not save themselves, so they asked Moses to pray to the Lord to take away the serpents.

The Lord heard the prayer of Moses. We do not read that he took away the serpents but that the Lord provided healing for those who had been bitten. God instructed Moses to make a fiery serpent and to set it on a pole. Moses obeyed God; he crafted a serpent out of bronze, put in on a pole, and provided it for the people to see in their time of need. Notice how Moses obeys. He doesn’t question the Lord about why another serpent or how a bronze serpent on a pole will heal people. Moses does what the Lord tells him to do. Because of his obedience, the Israelites find healing.

Obedience leads to life, to healing. While he was not perfect in obeying God, Moses does model what it means to hear from the Lord and to then obey the Lord. What are you to learn from his example? How is the Lord leading you to move out of your own selfish desires and demands to listen to him, to surrender to him, and to obey him?

Do you believe that obedience to God brings life and healing? How would the Lord like to minister to you today?

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