We are reading the Bible through together this year, using the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan published by the Navigators. You can download it free of charge from: https://www.navigators.org/resource/bible-reading-plans/
Let’s look at 4 brief matters in the account captured in Numbers 21:4-9.
- Note the Israelite’s dual charge against God. a. Simply because the way is hard or takes longer than we desire – God has brought us here to die. In other words, He has plotted evil against us. And b. The provision He HAS made in His Word (the manna) is “worthless” – it is “light”, it doesn’t do the job. It isn’t sufficient to sustain us.
How often we charge God the same, if not verbally, in our hearts – when life takes us down a difficult path. As vs. 5 says, they become impatient. Impatient with God, when it was their own sin which sentenced them to the 40 year wanderings.
And it is our sin – collectively in Adam and often our own personal sin which makes the journey hard. God forgive us for impatience with Him as He abides with us to bring us to the final Canaan of His presence.
2. So note the second part of those false charges particularly. “We loathe this worthless food.”
Are there parts of God’s Word, where you would say with the Jews, “I loathe this worthless food?” Or indeed, do you find virtually none of the Bible truly relevant to what you want to do and who you are? Then you have adopted a worldview and life direction that has nothing to do with God’s plans and purposes, and thus you are right – for those ends, the Word of God is truly worthless. It is only beneficial to those seeking Christ. To those seeking to grow in the knowledge of Jesus. To those waging war against indwelling sin, and seeking to be freed from the bondage of this World’s values and seductions so that they might be conformed to the image of Christ.
This word will sustain you in true faith, but not mystical inventions that mimic faith. It will sustain you as you fight materialism, selfishness, lust, greed, pride, arrogance, addiction, and self-serving self-centeredness. It will give you sight to see the lies of the World, the Flesh and the enemy. But it will not sustain you if you are looking to simply better your life; add the “spiritual dimension”; coddle you in your sin; justify you in self-rule or self-promotion. For those purposes, no matter how much you consume it – you will starve to death. But if you are hungry for holiness, intimacy with Christ, the maturity that prevents you from being tossed by the waves and blown about with every wind of doctrine – for coming to the goal of Christ’s likeness that God is after in your life – it contains the highest nutritional value available. And you can have as much of it as you want or need. the Word of God is worthless for human ends, and absolutely essential for spiritual ends. Why you partake of it – what you look for in it – will determine is efficacy.
3. Note that God does not take such charges lightly. The sending of the fiery serpents is a stunning reminder that He listens to the complaints of our hearts against Him – and that we need to reconsider where our hearts have gone in accusing Him.
4. GRACE! In all this – here comes one more type and shadow of Christ. A brazen serpent on a pole A standard raised up which gives its sure cure by the most amazing means: Just look. Just look to what God has prepared for us in Christ. Look to Him! He is raised up before you even in the very midst of your rebellion and His just judgment. Forgiveness and healing are but a glance away. Isaiah 45:22 (KJV 1900) — Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: For I am God, and there is none else.