So the LORD sent among the people seraph serpents, which bite the people so that many of the Israelites died. Numbers 21:6 NABRE
The book of Numbers shares the account of the Israelites as they journeyed from Sinai to the entry of the Promised Land. We read a story of the people complaining about the food God provides. As a reaction to their ungratefulness God’s reaction is to send snakes into the encampment biting the people and they die. Understanding what is happening they go to Moses seeking forgiveness and compassion, which comes from God in the form of a bronze serpent once looked upon healing those bitten. We can interpret lots of messages; sin is a form of death is probably the main message and the sin we commit can be a path to redemption. The church likens the raising of a bronze serpent to the raising of Jesus on the cross as redemption.
No doubt snakes get a bad rap in scripture, it is a snake who tempts the first people into sin, here snakes are the executioner of sinners. We could conclude God doesn’t like snakes. More likely the human story tellers had a natural dislike of snakes and they insert them in stories as the instrument of God’s antithesis. This is a story told from a human father’s perspective, a father who feels his children must be punished to learn a lesson. It seems a harsh lesson and one the God of the universe is not likely to enact. In human terms the punishment is quite harsh for the sin. We are to learn from these scriptural stories but knowing God as merciful we should also recognize not all stories in scripture are historical. God seems a harsh Father in certain scripture stories and somewhat inconsistent at times. Trust God wants our good and that death is not His final statement about His love for us.
Do you see God as mercy or judge? Would you destroy someone you love?God seems a harsh Father in certain scripture stories and somewhat inconsistent at times. Trust God wants our good and that death is not His final statement about His love for us. Click To Tweet
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