March 5, 2018
Numbers 21:4-9 … “Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died.” vs. 6
Sometimes the stories that the Israelites told about God reflect a very human understanding of how God operates. In this one from the book of Numbers, the people have been complaining in the wilderness—they even show contempt for the food that God has been daily providing them. So the Lord gets even. We can imagine the Lord saying, “Don’t like the food, huh. Well I’ll show you.” And he sends poisonous snakes among them and many Israelites die. We might not like the story but there are a whole bunch of folks who believe that this is exactly how God operates. They say it to those who say or do wrong things, “Better watch out, God’s going to get you for that!” As a result of such thinking, when bad things happen to us, almost by instinct we think that what has happened is punishment for bad behavior. Now it is true that some of our words and actions do have consequences—they can get us in big trouble. But is God really like this? If this is indeed how God operates, then the preachers who see hurricanes and floods as God’s punishment for human wickedness are right. But if Jesus is the true revelation of God, we get a different perspective. In him we discover a God who loves sinners, who doesn’t “get them” for their sin, but who instead generously forgives.
Thought for the Day: What is my God like?