Yes, it looks like a snake curled around the top of this tree. No, that’s not actually what it is. It’s simply a unique tree. I go past it on the trail where I’ve been running lately, and it reminds me of a serpent many generations ago. Perhaps you remember the story…
“Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. 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.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” -Numbers 21:4-9 NKJV
If you’ve grown up with a knowledge of the Bible, you probably know that this is an Old Testament picture of what would happen in the New Testament with Jesus. In fact, just before Jesus’ famous words in John 3:16, He tells Nicodemus, “‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’” -John 3:14-15 NKJV
Put yourself in the shoes of the Israelites for a moment, and recognize a scene that is familiar to all of us in some way. You are walking through a desert- hot, tired, sore, hungry, thirsty… and quite naturally, you begin to look for someone to blame for your misery. Or you are living through a pandemic, followed by serious rioting in response to the cruel death of a fellow human being. The financial state of many Americans is serious, including yours. You need a job. Your car is breaking down. This is your desert, and you are weary of the trek. You open your mouth to complain, and honestly, since everyone else is also complaining, you don’t see any harm in it.
This desert, this journey through places that are unfamiliar to comfort addicted America, leads us to search for solutions, for people to look up to and to follow. Many are seeking healing for the serpent wounds that have come upon us, quite frankly, many of which have been inflicted through our own folly as a human race. Based on our personal convictions, we search for healing in different places. Some turn to the president, viewing him as a superhuman who can remedy all of our current issues. He can’t. He is only human like the rest of us, not a god to be worshipped. No president is powerful enough to heal this mess. Some turn to revenge. It’s the humanness that rises within us, saying, “Well, they started it. They hurt me, so I’ll hurt them right back.” There is so much hatred going on, so much evil, and so much pain. But we are turning to the wrong things to fix our problems. Trusting fully in human powers isn’t going to work. The problems are too big for mere humans to handle. Revenge isn’t going to work. Neither is hate.
“It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal nothing.”
There is a Way through; there is One who can and does bring healing, but He is the ONLY Way that works. He’s the solid foundation that isn’t going to crumble. If we don’t repent and look upon the Son of God, we will die. There isn’t a bronze serpent that we need to look to now for healing, but a living, breathing, saving Jesus upon the cross. He is God’s provision for our unbelievable mess. Let’s turn to Him and take the unpopular road- the road of forgiveness, the road of prayer, the road of love and truth.
Lord Jesus, I pray that we, as Your children, would come to You to say we’re sorry, to mean it from the depths of our hearts. Sorry for the blatant sins we have allowed the church to fall into, sorry for the way we’ve neglected the vulnerable, sorry for mishandling Your Word and twisting it to fit our personal preferences, sorry for turning to everything except You. I pray for a revival to sweep over this world, for a return to Truth, for there is only one Truth, and that is You. May we seek You as we have never sought You before. Change our hearts, change us, and help us to become a representation of You here on this earth. Purify us. Save us! Help us to repent! I ask this in the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
“When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:13-14 NKJV