Mercy over Judgment

4 Then they set out from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, in order to bypass the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient on the journey 5 and spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you led us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread or water, and we detest this wretched food!”  6 So the LORD sent venomous snakes among the people, and many of the Israelites were bitten and died.  7 Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you. Intercede with the LORD so He will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses interceded for the people.  8 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole. If anyone who was bitten looked at the bronze snake, he would live. Numbers 21:4-9

How rich is this passage of scripture!  There is so much here to help guide our response to what is happening in the world around us. 

God’s people rebelled against God and His man Moses.  They grew weary of their journey and let their circumstances and feelings overcome them.  They didn’t consider all that God had done for them.  In fact, before this passage, they had a tremendous victory against the Canaanites.  But after that victory, the journey continued longer than they would have liked, and they let their mouths run away with them.  Now snakes, native to their surroundings, and previously a non-issue for them, became a significant problem. 

God’s people were now subject to snake bites and were dying from them.  The people came to their senses and humbled themselves and asked Moses to intercede on their behalf.  They realized that their rebellion had caused them to fall out of favor and had moved them from under God’s protection.  They asked Moses to ask the LORD to take the snakes away from them.

Moses intercedes on their behalf, and God, who prefers mercy over judgment, provided a way for the people to escape death.  Notice though, that the LORD didn’t drive all the snakes out.  Also, notice that He didn’t cause the bites to be rendered harmless.  What was required of God’s people was trust.  They had to trust that looking at the snake on the pole would keep them from dying.    Anyone bitten by a snake was to put their focus and trust on the snake on the pole and those that did lived.

The Corona virus is out there.  It is infecting and killing people of all kinds, all over.  We, God’s people who are called by the name of the Lord, have a Savior who was lifted up on a cross.  One who died so that we could live.  One who has already redeemed our lives from destruction.

God has already armed us with strength for this battle.  If you look back on sermons, teachings, and bible studies over the last few months, including the posts from this blog, you can see how God has been arming us with strength for this battle.  Teachings on who He is and how He operates strengthened us in our relationship with Him and in His love for us. Messages about what faith is and how it develops and about how important it is to meditate on the Word of God has been developing us in our faith. 

Don’t be moved by the circumstances.  Don’t be driven by fear – faith and fear can’t occupy the same space.  Build yourself up on your most holy faith and continually look to Jesus.  He who bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases.  He who has redeemed our lives from destruction.  He by whose stripes we are healed.

If fear is overwhelming you, feed your faith.  Read through all the promises of God concerning God’s love and mercy.  Read about who Jesus is to and in us and who we are in Him.  Read about how you are now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  Read through how you are redeemed from the curse of the law that includes every sickness and every disease.  Get grounded in who you are in Christ Jesus and in God’s love for you.

Then, like Moses, stand in the gap and intercede.  Pray for God’s mercy and intercede for those around you, for the nations of this world, and for all people. 

God prefers mercy over judgment.  God is a deliverer – believe in His love more than you fear the circumstances.

John 3:14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.

Micah 7:18, 19 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?  You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.