Based on Numbers 21:4-9
The blundering fools, why must they murmur so?
But I was one of them, and yes, I know
The judgment of our God is swift and sure;
His aim: a people holy, chaste and pure.
It wasn’t that our needs had not been met,
But what we wanted was a chance to get
The food we had in Egypt. This light bread
Was loathsome to our palettes, so we pled:
“God, why could You not give us more to eat
Than this light bread we gather at our feet?”
As soon as our complaint had reached His ears,
He sent His answer, but it brought us tears.
The serpents came by dozens all around;
The stricken people fell down to the ground.
Their fiery bite left many people dead;
Those living still lay moaning on their bed.
A snake of brass upon a pole was raised.
The God we once had cursed we all now praised,
For look was all we had to do to live:
As easily as heal, God could forgive.
I hesitated, fearing, for my sin
Was much too great, I thought with deep chagrin.
How could a simple look undo my wrong?
In misery I lay there all day long.
But God, Who ever loves me by His grace,
Compelled a friend to ‘stand me face to face:
“God made the way. If you will just believe,
Then look, dear friend, your healing to receive.”
I looked around to see what others did.
One man was trying vainly to be rid
Of serpent he was holding by the tail.
“I can’t let go,” he said as he went pale.
Then over there a boy was fading fast;
His mother, weeping loudly, looked aghast.
The boy, still trusting in his mother’s gaze
To save him, died, his eyes begun to glaze.
A little further out I saw a priest,
His body racked with pain, his eyes due east.
“Your service in the tabernacle I
Have given, Lord, so why must I thus die?”
A woman over yonder doing good
To all the people in her neighborhood
Thought her good deeds would keep her soul alive,
But she fell dead: no more would she revive.
And then I saw a man whom I despised
For he had stolen something that I prized.
If God could pardon him by greed so driven,
Why was I afraid to be forgiven?
My friend was waiting, pleading with me still,
“Just look and live! Be free from woe and ill.”
And so by faith I looked at serpent pole,
And God, in mercy, made my spirit whole.
October 25, 2002
© 2017 Angela Umphers Rueger – All Rights Reserved
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