From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “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.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
At this point in your withholding, you might have started to notice how much you were beholding something that isn’t God. We all experience that at times, and it is a gift from our Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit that this other beholding was revealed to you.
With the increased time you’ve had to notice things and reflect on others, what has stood out to you? Like the Israelites, are there any places where you were overly focused on better bread (or desires) or on all the snakes (or problems) around you? Even after an amazing encounter with the Lord, it is common to set our eyes back on the things around us. Think about how easily we get wrapped up in the concerns of Monday after enjoying His sweet and tangible Presence on Sunday morning.
We see that same shift in the Israelites. Right before this story of the bronze serpent, the Lord had just given over the Canaanites to Israel. The Israelites trusted God and leaned on Him for strength, support, and all that they needed. And then, in the very next verse, we read that the people had become impatient on the way. Trust was immediately followed by mistrust. Complaint replaced devotion, but that is not the most important aspect of these stories.
The important part here is that God used it all! He worked through the people when they had their eyes set on Him, and He worked through them when their eyes were on everything else. God used both scenarios to draw them closer to Him, and He gave them the ability to change what they were looking at so that they could live.
Today, we have something so much better to set our eyes on. We don’t have to look at the bronze serpent to live; we get to set our eyes on Christ and on the love He poured out for us on the cross. No matter if we are still focusing on the thing we are withholding from, or even if we are focused on our accomplishment of withholding, let’s use this moment to set our focus back on the True One we are beholding.
Lord, is there anything I am looking at that is not You? Please reveal why I look to this other thing instead of You, and please help me to keep my eyes on You throughout this day.