6. God's Grace in Your Doubts: Numbers
The strength of God’s love is greater than the weakness of your faith.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and put it on a flag pole; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, and looks at it, will live.” -Numbers 21:8.
Having delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, God is now leading his people through the wilderness and toward the land he had promised to Abraham and to his descendants. For the Israelites, the wilderness is a time of trial and testing.
Over and over again, the people complain of their hunger and thirst and say they wish they were still slaves. They doubt God’s goodness and his ability to get them into the Promised Land. Some Israelites even plan a mutiny and try to appoint a new leader that will lead them back to Egypt. In their rebellion and lack of faith, God allows his people to face the consequences of their sin. He sentences this generation to wander in the wilderness for forty years so that only their children will enter the Promised Land.
But God also meets the Israelites' lack of faith with grace. He continues to take care of them and provide for them, and he remains faithful to them as their God.
One example of this in the book of Numbers occurs when the Israelites complain to God yet again, and God responds in judgment by sending venomous snakes into the camp. But God, in his grace, also provides a remedy. He instructs the Israelite leader, Moses, to craft a bronze snake and to set it upon a pole, so that those who are bitten may look upon the snake, be healed, and live.
The New Testament draws a parallel between this story and Jesus. John 3:14-15 says, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”
You see, the people were saved from physical death in the wilderness, but their deeper need was to be saved from spiritual death. Like the Israelites, all of us are sinners, and we face God’s judgment, which is death. But God made a way out for us by sending his son Jesus. Just as the snake, which represented death, became the means of healing for the Israelites, so Jesus took on sin and death to heal us!
Like the Israelites could look up to the snake and be saved, so we can look to Jesus as our savior and be saved from death and given eternal life. If you are saved in Christ, you not only receive grace that saves you, but Jesus continues to give you grace for the rest of your life.
You might often feel like you are wandering in a wilderness much like the Israelites. Maybe you feel lost: you don’t know what direction to take. Maybe you feel stranded and scared. You fear you don’t have what you need to be ok. Wilderness moments can be terrifying, often leading us to doubt and question God.
But in response to our doubt, to our lack of faith, God doesn’t stop caring for us. When you decide you’re done talking to God, God isn’t done pursuing you. When God feels so distant you begin to question if he’s real, God’s care for you isn’t any less real. When your faith is weak, God’s love is still strong.
RESPOND: Take a moment to look to God for his provision of grace in whatever wilderness moment you might be facing.