By Doug Bing, Washington Conference president


I am not a huge lover of snakes. I have played with them when around other people, so they won’t know that I don’t like them, and I have held them for long periods of time. However, I would never choose to be around them. Wilma, my wife of 36 years, had one rule for our new marriage: no snakes in the house. Well that was quite easy to follow!

During my childhood, one particular experience with a snake stands out in my mind. I was playing with several of the neighborhood children outdoors and as we were walking towards the park we came upon a large 5-foot snake. Being children, the snake seemed to be 7-8 feet long at the time.

We surrounded the snake as it tried to escape, and it did what most snakes will do. It coiled up into a defensive position with its tail sticking up and shaking back and forth and its head came up ready to strike. This had all the appearances to us of being a rattlesnake. One of us raced home to tell my mother.

We were screaming and hollering, and soon other children were surrounding the snake too. My mother came racing from the house with a garden hoe in hand. Then my quiet unassuming mother transformed into one of the most aggressive humans I think I had seen in my short life. She didn’t check to see what kind of snake it was, she simply saw a snake that looked ready to harm a child.

She took that hoe and went to work. She darted towards the snake and as she came closer the snake stuck at her. She would jump back and hit the snake at the same time. Over and over this dangerous dance happened. It finally ended when the snake lay dead at my mother’s feet. We later found out that it was not a rattlesnake and yes, we should have left it alone and it would have gone on its way to keep the mice and rat population down.

While the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, they had poisonous snakes that came into the camp. In Numbers 21 it states that people were getting bitten and were dying. The people came to Moses and God instructed him to make a bronze snake and place it on a pole. The instructions were that if you were bitten by the snake, you were to look at the snake on the pole.

In the past when Israel had been facing danger, God had simply removed the danger. But this time instead of making the snake go away, God told them the way to solve their pain and to avoid dying: Look at the snake on the pole.

Why one might ask? It was a way of confession. One can only confess wrong doing when they face their wrong doing fully. If you wanted to live you had to confront the thing that was going to kill you. By them looking at the bronze snake they were confessing their sin as well as expressing faith in God to take care of it for them.

Jesus on the cross transformed the entire situation with sin in the world. He was saying to us if you look to me you will live. He will transform into a sin fighter in front of you and will take on the serpents that are among us. He will keep striking at the serpents that strike at us until they are completely gone. As you go throughout the rest of this week, please keep looking to Jesus to deal with the snakes in your life.