“Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance” Exodus 34:9b
What do you think was going through Moses’ mind as he descended Mount Sinai for a second time carrying the stone tablets containing God’s path to reconciliation? God had provided a means for the people to connect with Him and yet they seemed to want something else. He freed them from Pharaoh’s tyranny, placed a signpost of cloud and fire for them to follow, parted the Red Sea for their escape route, made bitter water sweat so they could drink, sent an abundance of quail for food, sent manna from heaven when they tired of quail, and gushed water from a rock when they were thirsty. What was their response? They moaned and complained and maybe inspired the lyrics to the 1980s song, “What have you done for me lately?” His first trip down the mountain ended in frustration as he smashed God’s commandments on the ground after being greeted by music, dancing and his people worshipping a golden god they had made.
Scripture and history remind us that no matter what we do to try to avoid God, He has consistently kept His promises, including the one about reconciliation and salvation. In the book of Numbers, we read that God responds to another complaint about a lack of food and water by sending venomous snakes amongst the people. His intent was not to wipe them out but to get them to recognize their sin and see God’s saving grace. God was always with them, but they failed to recognize that because sin clouded their ability to see Him. When Moses raised a bronze representation of the serpent that tempted humanity to sin, God asked the people to look at their sin and believe God could deliver them from the death that would surely follow the serpent’s bite; those who believed were saved. When Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about salvation, He referenced the bronze snake and reminded those listening that He would also need to be lifted for all to see and believe that He is the salvation promised.
As we draw closer to Easter, we should remember that God’s intention for humanity has always been for us to be with him in eternity. However, our constant failure and inability to recognize blessings or honour Him as He desires, is keeping that serpent right in our face. We need to see past our desires and seek to rid ourselves of our sins. We need to look to Jesus to save us from the serpent’s sting of death.