Snake on a Pole

Numbers 21: 4-9

Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink! And we hate this horrible manna!” So, God sent poisonous snakes among the people and many were bitten and died. Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes!” So, Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” So, Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed. 

Jesus was hung on the cross, whosoever believes in Him by just turning the head to look will be saved from the sin. The consequence of sin is death. In 2020, we are facing a pandemic caused by coronavirus which affected the globe, including all 50 states in the U.S. The most tangible way to know how this virus affected our lives is to see the empty streets, highways, restaurants, bars, retail stores and what’s called “non-essential” businesses now. A few places we can see people at are the groceries where toilet paper and food stacks are empty, and the hospitals where the healthcare workers are anticipating and facing the sick without supplies for their own protection. It is as if they are going to the war zone on our front lines without guns and ammunition. Some doctors who treat the infected patients sleep in their own cars so that they reduce the chance to infect their own loved ones, family and friends. 

As we watch the news media, fear rises as the numbers of the infected and the death rate increases daily. Every day we hear new findings, altering our immediate needs and adjusting into a new normal. Fear creeps in, tension rises and the imagination of worse apocalyptic ideas enters our discussions at the table. In times like this when everything seems surreal and it is hard to find norms, we tend to look to see where we can find some controls to fill the void of insecurities. Even fighting over buying a toilet paper package is still comforting because fighting is a part of the norm. People can easily go into a rabbit hole, focusing on the number of infected people and death tolls, preparing for the worst and even exaggerating the scenarios, predicting economic disaster to a point of no return. It is much harder to reflect and ask why is this happening, what can we learn from this experience and what must we do to benefit each other. That answer usually comes from God, who created everything—even the viruses—and who controls the whole world, life, and death and even each breath we take. 

We actually do not have any control over these, but God has already counted the number of hairs each one of us has. He feeds the birds in the sky and birds have no ability to store the food supplies. And this God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow says anyone who looks at the bronze snake attached to a pole will live. Now, why wouldn’t anyone just turn their head and look at it? This would be such an easy task yet there were people who did not. It is the pride that would prohibit a gaze because what God said does not make sense. Our education, common sense, and every  grain of logic prohibits such a gaze. But God is not of this world and naturally God’s logic will not make sense to us. Why would a loving God make such an infectious virus called Coronavirus, why now, why do we have to face it globally, why is this happening on this earth, why do I have to live through this unprecedented time, who is to blame, who will pay for all these consequences, where is God in all these anyway and all kinds of questions arise without answers. 

When all the dust settles, the turmoil of our mind, confusions and even anger subsides, then we have two choices: To look or not to look at the snake on a pole. I have decided to put down my pride and take a look at it, even if I wind up dying with this virus. We all die at one time; no one has escaped the death except Jesus who died and resurrected. Even though it may be a miserable way to die, and not able to breathe with this virus, the end is the same. Death is a worst scenario. The good news is that physical death is not the whole story of Christian belief. The victory is already determined and we know Jesus has conquered the death and we will be living in heaven in God’s bosom where there will be no more tears. So, calm your hearts, now that God is in control of this Covid19, and focus on Jesus who took away our sins by dangling like a bronze snake on the cross. Turn your head to look at it and receive eternal salvation. Fill your mind with God and pray for our nation and the world. God will hear your prayers and our Good Father will grant your wishes and give you peace that surpasses our understanding. 

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