Jesus said: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:14–17
God heard the cry of his people when they were oppressed in Egypt. He saw their misery in their enslavement. And so called Moses and sent him to free his people. With a mighty hand he showed his glory and power to Pharaoh, who despite his hardened heart could not withstand and ultimately released his grip and let God’s people go.
And the people come to the edge of the promised land. But despite their miraculous deliverance by God the people chose fear over faith, rejecting the promised land for the wilderness. Yet God was with them in the dessert, providing and protecting even as the people were rebellious and disobedient, not trusting God for his protection and provision.
They were hungry, they wonder, “Will God provide for us in the wilderness?” And he sent them manna in the morning and meat in the night.
They were thirsty, they wonder, “is God was even with us in this place?” And he sent them water from a rock.
They were struck down by snakes as a judgement for their disobedience and wonder, “will God deliver us from the consequences of our sin?” And he told Moses to make a bronze snake staff and to lift it up. And when the people who were bitten looked up at the staff, they were healed and lived.
The people of Israel experienced the amazing deliverance of a personal God. We sometimes can long for their experience, “If only I could see God in a pillar of fire, then I could believe.” But we have seen more than they did, we have been given a better provision.
Jesus is the better manna, our sustenance, the bread of life that gives life and teaches us that we do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Jesus is the better water, the living water that when we drink we will never thirst, but will well up and over flow to eternal life.
Jesus is the better serpent, the better redeemer and healer who was raised up so that anyone who looks upon him will be healed and have eternal life — knowing the God and his the one he has sent.
Have you ever been in the wilderness? Are you perhaps there now? God is and was and will be there with you there. But what questions are you asking in the wilderness? What does that wilderness time reveal? What unbelief? What doubt? What grumbling, what testing? What is in your heart? Would you dare to let that come up to the surface and be honest with it before God so that he can feed you, refresh you and heal you?
God has revealed himself to you and says “I will provide all that you ever need, because I am your God and you are my beloved.” Many things promise to sustain us, many things that really never can. “I will provide for you because I am God and all those other things that say they will, lie, because they are not God and so are powerless to fulfill what they promise, but I will.”
Peace, hope and love Doug