“And 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 food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. Therefore 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. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.””
Numbers 21:5-8 NKJV
My mom was a great cook. One look at me, and you know that is definitely true. I used to say I became fat on good food, none of that junk. Like anyone awash in blessings for the tongue, I periodically expressed a “ho hum” attitude, and made the mistake of asking for somehing better. Needless to say, I was lucky if I got bread and water the next time dinner came around. I had two choices of meals: “take it, or leave it.”
In my annual foray through the book of numbers, I once again read of the children of Israel and their constant whining and complaining. At this point they had seen so many great moves of God and been delivered time and time again. They had also seen the consequences of speaking against their Creator and His chosen minister.
Once again they sinned, and once again God brought an existential punishment into their lives. Once again they ran to Moses, who once again prayed on their behalf, as he stood in the gap for this stiff-necked people.
This time, the children of Israel demeaned the blessing of manna, that the Lord had provided them. They spoke against the loathesome bread, the blessing that God provided that was saving their lives.
When I read this I thought of all the times, I personally have taken the blessings of God for granted, and complained about the quality of what I had. I lamented the unanswered prayers for things to feed my appetites and not my soul.
As time went on, the Lord sent fiery serpents into my life in the form of trials and struggles. I found myelf reeling on my heels, as health issues and financial losses mounted. In the midst of those circumstances, I looked to the Lord. The very trials that brought pain, became blessing, as my life unfolded.
“Remember my affliction and roaming, The wormwood and the gall. My soul still remembers And sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:19-23 NKJV
In the aftermath of fiery trials, I have learned once again to find joy in the small blessings of God. In my past I wanted the best, the great luxurious things. The best beverages, the greatest foods. I now find great satisfaction in an ice cold glass of water on a hot day, or a great PB&J when I am hungry. I am no longer the one so satisfied, that I do not find blessing in whatever God has brought to me.
“A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, But to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”
Proverbs 27:7 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, let us not be like the children of Israel complaining about the status of things happening in our world. Even in these perilous times, we still have the safety, at least for now, of going to church and doing so in peace. Even in my own relative poverty, I have plenty, as the Lord has seen to my needs.
The world and the country might not be as we would desire it to be, but let us acknowledge that the Lord as provided. Let us also go and be the ambassadors the Lord has called us to be.
We have placed guards around our hearts, and allowed a seed of bitterness to fill us with complaint. In doing so, we have allowed our attention to come off the One who saved us and onto the circumstances around us. All too often we forget to tell people about Jesus.
Worst of all, we have sought the things of this world, and not the things of God., as we seek our fleshly satisfaction.
The children of Israel ran to Moses, realizing that they had sinned, as the fiery serpents were taking people out. In our time, we will see the rise in persecution, the rise of natural consequences for the sins that we have allowed. It is a time for repentance and refocus, as we must seek the Lord to lead us back.
Lead us Back
Falling down upon our knees,
Sharing now in common shame,
We have sought security,
Not the cross that bears Your name.
Fences guard our hearts and homes —
Comfort sings a siren tune.
We’re a valley of dry bones;
Lead us back to life in You.
Lord we fall upon our knees,
We have shunned the weak and poor,
Worshipped beauty, courted kings
And the things their gold affords,
Prayed for those we’d like to know —
Favor sings a siren tune.
We’ve become a talent show;
Lead us back to life in You.