Numbers 21:4–9

From Mount Hor the Israelites set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread and no water, and we detest this miserable food." Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, "Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live." So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

I always thought this was a strange story in the Bible. God sends the serpents, then He uses an image of the serpent to heal the people. Does this mean that this bronze snake has special powers? Can a fake snake on a pole heal people? No, it is God who heals the people. He just does it when they repent. They ask their leader to pray, and then they are obedient to what God tells them to do.

You may recognize that this symbol has become a symbol of the medical profession. We can look to the medical profession to save us, but we really need to repent and turn to God to heal us and our land. Is it possible that we have angered God? Are we impatient? Are we ungrateful for what we have been given by God? Have we as a nation spoken against God?

Let Us Pray:

Most merciful God,

we confess that we have sinned against you

in thought, word, and deed,

by what we have done,

and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart;

we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.

We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.

For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,

have mercy on us and forgive us;

that we may delight in your will,

and walk in your ways,

to the glory of your Name.

Amen.

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