Are you growing impatient?
Sometimes I get impatient. Do you?
I don’t just mean I’m eager to Christmas to come or for a vacation to start. I mean I’ve reached the “what’s the deal? This is taking too long” grumbling stage kind of impatient prayers. Like looking for a godly man to marry all those years ago, or after my miscarriage, waiting for another positive pregnancy test.
I know my last posts on the whining people of Israel put them in a bad light. (Every time I read or think about their lack of faith in God’s love, I cringe – because I recognize myself and MY whining in THEIR story.)
Impatient hearts rebel
Today we’re looking at Numbers 21:4-9. Verse 4 says, “They traveled from Mount Hor along the Sea of Reeds in order to go around the land of Edom. The spirit of the people became impatient along the way.” Yep, just 7 chapters after their faith in the fearful reports of the Promised Land got them a 40-year stroll in the desert, they are impatient with the process. They grumbled against Moses and God.
- No bread
- No water
- “Our very spirits detest the despicable food.” (V. 5)
What food? Oh, just the heaven-bread “manna” that God gives them daily. The food they wouldn’t have to eat if they’d just gone into the land God had for them!
Impatient hearts get rattled
God is not a fan of our impatient whining – especially when it is a result of our own choices. In this case, Moses doesn’t mention any discussion with God about it. God just responded — with deadly snakes. (Numbers 21:6)
Knowing how God not only CREATED all of nature but still CONTROLS it, my best guess is that those snakes went after the most impatient people first. Scripture doesn’t tell us. But the consequences were severe and swift. Probably not actual rattlesnakes, but that’ what is so common in my region that we have weekend festivals to round up the snakes in several communities…
Not the first
Keep in mind that these snakes weren’t the first time God responded to such blatant disrespect. In Numbers 16, we see the story of Korah from the Levite clan – those set apart to care for God’s holy Tabernacle. Korah assembled 250 men to rebel against Moses’ leadership and by extension the Holy God who put Moses in charge.
In this instance the earth opened up and swallowed Korah and his 2 leaders, their families and all their belongings. Then the earth closed back up again. (Kinda like the Red Sea closed over the Egyptian army…) And then God rained fire on the 250 rebellious followers. All of Israel saw God punish this rebellion. And how quickly they forgot!
Impatient Hearts Repent
Those bitten by the snakes then recognized their sin and begged Moses for relief. God’s response wasn’t to instantly cure them.
Instead, He had Moses fashion a snake from bronze and put it on a pole in the middle of the camp. Anyone who had been bitten was to simply look at it and be healed.
It took their deliberate act of faith to save them from certain death. They had to crawl out of their tent and look up, believing mercy and healing were available to them. How sad for those who no doubt refused this offer! There are always those who refuse to bow before the saving grace of God.
What it means for me:
- Being discouraged because of my bad choices isn’t a sin UNTIL it attacks my heart and I grumble at God. I have to own my choices, not become impatient with the consequences.
- I should learn from how I see God correct others’ disbelief and rebellion so that I don’t make the same mistakes.
- When I do forget and complain about God or my spiritual leader, I absolutely MUST confess this rebellious heart to God, knowing that…
- God lifted up His Son for me to be saved from certain death.