I can thankfully say that I've never been bitten by a snake (at least not by one that looks like this picture). But reading about the Israelites this morning has me thinking a lot about snakes, sin, and remedies...
It all started with Numbers 21:4-9 ...But the people grew impatient along the way, and they began to murmur against God and Moses. "Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?" they complained. "There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this wretched manna!" So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among them, and many of them were bitten and died. Then the people came to Moses and cried out, "We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes." So Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord told him "Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to the top of a pole. Those who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!" So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to the top of a pole. Whenever those who were bitten looked at the bronze snake, they recovered!
The people sinned and there was a consequence. And of course the consequence wasn't pleasant so the people repented and asked for it to be removed. (I'm pretty sure a bunch of poisonous snakes would have caused me to beg for mercy too!) But what stands out to me is how God works. He doesn't remove the consequence of sin, but instead provides a remedy. The snakes were still there...someone may still get bit...but if he looked to the snake on the pole, he would live.
Jump ahead to John 3:14-17 and we see the same thing played out. Jesus says "And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it."
Sin was brought into the world and caused separation between us and God. We live with the consequence, but God provided a remedy. The enemy is still there...we may still get attacked...but look to Jesus and believe in him, and we shall live. Sometimes I would rather that God take out the enemy and remove all the consequenes of sin from my life. But if He removed the snakes, would I still be as desperate to catch a glimpse of the image on top of the pole?