There is a fascinating story in Numbers 21. Many of the Israelites had been bitten by snakes so God instructed Moses to make a bronze snake and put it up on a pole so all the people could see it. God told Moses, “Anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”
It seems a strange, unbelievable story but I find it interesting because it says something about God. The Norwegian pastor/author Ole Hallesby points out that the Israelites did not even need to come to the bronze snake to be healed. All they needed to do was look at it and live. If someone lived in a part of the Israelite camp that was far away from the pole, they could simply look in the direction of the pole and live. Hallesby observes that an individual needn’t even possess the capacity to walk, they could be crawling, they could have fallen to the ground on the verge of death and they could be healed right where they were with nothing more than a look at that bronze snake.
Sometimes I feel like one of those Israelites—on my last legs, in distress. It is good to know I follow a God that desires to preserve my life and restore it, no matter what state I'm in.
When Jesus spoke with Nicodemus in John 3, he likened his own future death with that bronze snake. He said that just as the snake was lifted up in the desert, so the Son of Man would be lifted up. If that is so, then I am the prisoner hanging next to him. It only takes a glance and enough air in my lungs to utter three small words, “Lord, remember me.”
Even before I speak the words, he knows they are formed in my heart. Still, it is good for my soul to speak the words: “Lord, remember me.”
Are you in distress? Do you feel like you are on your last legs? Do you feel like it would be better to die, better if you had never been born? No matter what part of the camp you’re in right now—the center, the edge—no matter what state you find yourself in—freshly bitten and staggering, or on the ground, on the verge of death—rich or poor—having failed or having succeeded—there is a God who cares. He has given up his life to restore yours. He is lifted up—on a cross—so you should have no trouble whatsoever seeing where he is. He is the one dying for you. He is the one loving you sacrificially. Simply incline your heart to him today in whatever way you wish. He comes to the aid of those who but look to him when they are in distress. It only takes a look. That is easy enough, isn’t it?