3 minutes reading time (581 words)

Discontent is a Fiery Serpent

fiery-serpent

 "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food."

     Numbers 21:5

How often have we watched this scene play out? God has brought the Israelites out of Egypt by a mighty hand. He split the waters of a sea and carried them safely through them before bringing those same waters down upon the heads of their oppressors. Mount Sinai thundered beneath a cloak of smoke and fire as God descended upon it to give them the law and make them his people. He has saved them and prospered them (Ex 12). And the people's response is complaint.

They complained about water (Exodus 15 & 17), food (Exodus 16), the variety of the food (Numbers 11), their leaders (Numbers  12 & 16),and the fight to come (Numbers 14). It seems grumbling was their native tongue. Sometimes I wonder how people, who had seen so much of God's grace, could be so empty of gratitude and so full of discontent. But then, I go to Costco.

Julie and I are empty nesters. There are two of us living in a house with five high definition TVs. Yet, every time I go to Costco, I want a new TV. Mind you, I don't need another TV. I am quite literally running out of rooms in which to put a TV. But still, I kind of want a new one. In truth, I sometimes hope that one of my TVs will die so that I can buy another, better one. Five TVs for two people and, in my abundance, I am somewhat discontent. Maybe there is some Israelite blood in me.

Discontent is dangerous. It blinds us to God's mercies. It leads us to doubt his goodness. And it crowds out gratitude. But those are just symptoms. In fact, discontent itself is a symptom. Behind discontent is a failure to trust God and his goodness toward us. As punishment for this lack of faith, God sent fiery serpents among the Israelites. Many died before they realized the wrong they had done. So how does one fight discontent?

In his grace God provides a remedy. In Numbers, he commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. When the people were bitten, they could look at the serpent and be healed. The same thing is true for us. In John 3:14-16, Jesus says, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." Don't pass over that too quickly. Dwell on these realities:

To defeat the sin of discontent, look on him who defeated all sin. Look on the man Jesus. See him hanging on the cross. As you do, feel the ugliness of your sin and know that you have no merit of your own by which you can claim his favor. And then, feel the beauty of his grace to you. It is a "whoever believes" kind of grace. It is only by looking on Jesus and him crucified that our love for God will grow. As it grows, discontent withers away in the light of his grace.

Numbers Trivia
The Jewish Feasts
 

Comments 2

Guest - Dee Hurst on Monday, 15 February 2021 10:17

Thank you for taking your time to write and share these notes.

Thank you for taking your time to write and share these notes.
Guest - Clark Anderson on Tuesday, 16 February 2021 08:12

Lee, great job of bringing all that together. Another of the great things about this story is how it is still used today. Whether doctors or patients are even aware of it the serpent coiled around a staff is a symbol of healing still today. For them it is physical healing as it was for the Israelites. For us, as you said, spiritual healing.

Lee, great job of bringing all that together. Another of the great things about this story is how it is still used today. Whether doctors or patients are even aware of it the serpent coiled around a staff is a symbol of healing still today. For them it is physical healing as it was for the Israelites. For us, as you said, spiritual healing.
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Wednesday, 19 January 2022

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.twickenham.org/