Tuesday, January 8, 2013

EJ100 #13 Numbers 21:4-9

Today's Essential Jesus reading: Numbers 21:4-9.

On their way to the promised land, the Israelites had to travel around the Edom, because they had been denied passage through that land... once again, they became impatient and grumbled.

When the people grumbled just as they had so many times before, the LORD sent venomous snakes to bite them. They'd learned their lesson from previous punishments, though, because they quickly came to Moses to admit their sin and ask Moses to intercede with God on their behalf.

God's solution was to tell Moses to build a bronze snake, and raise it up on a pole so that people who were bitten could see the snake if they just raised their eyes above their own circumstances. Once they saw the snake, they would be cured of the effects of the venom and live.

Interestingly, God did not answer the people's prayer request as delivered through Moses. The people wanted God to take away the snakes, which were their punishment [21:7]. God decided instead to provide a means of bearing up under the punishment and surviving his wrath.

Jesus told Nicodemus [John 3:14-15], "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." In Moses' time, the people needed to look to the raised bronze snake to live. Nowadays, we must look to the crucified Jesus in order to have eternal life, and to survive the wrath of God against our present day sins.
Picture by Chrissie D.
Belief is required because no-one seeks help from that which they do not believe in. No-one suffering from a snake bite would look for Moses' bronze snake totem pole unless they believed that seeing it would help their condition. Believing that Jesus can help our situation is the motivation we need to look to him.

Sometimes when I have a problem, I bring God my plan for a solution in prayer. But often, his solution isn't the same as mine. I want the problem to go away, but God wants me to learn to trust him and go with his plan, rather than my own.

At the moment the problem that I am struggling with is my weight. I don't pray to wake up one day 30kg lighter, I know better than that. But I do pray that God will agree with my plan to lose weight at a certain rate by following a certain health formula. And I certainly pray my thanks to God every time I get to the end of my workout DVD.

But God's plan for my body is different altogether. God's plan is for me to be a new creation. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!" [2 Corinthians 5:17]. God has a whole bigger perspective than my healthy eating and exercising choices.

So I struggle to make the state of my body match that of my soul, and I continue to long for that which is mortal in me to be swallowed up by life:
"For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." [2 Corinthians 5:1-5]
> What problem do you need to have put into its correct perspective by considering God's radical plan for you?

Why do I love and worship Jesus?
I worship Jesus because he knows better than I do.

Thank you Jesus for showing me your perspective,
as well as the strength to get through my workouts!

Tomorrow's reading: 1 Kings 8:1-21.

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