Read Numbers 21
The route they were on had taken its toll. The only reason they were on it was because Edom refused to let them pass through their country. Going around Edom added about 175 miles to their trip. And the Israelites were cranky.
I wonder why God hadn’t just given them victory over Edom 175 miles back and granted His mercy to just let them pass through.
That was exactly what they needed — God’s mercy. As much as they liked to think it was Moses’ fault or Aaron’s fault that they were where they were, the truth remained — it was God alone who held their future. He granted the victory. He dished out the judgement.
He sent snakes to remind them of His sovereign and merciful ways. For, this time the Israelites themselves recognized their own sin and confessed. God’s judgement forced them to confess their own need for His mercy. “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you” (v. 7).
So God provided a cure. Just like He provided the cure for us. Caught in the consequence of sin and death, God has granted us His mercy through Jesus Christ. For the Israelites, it was a copper snake on a pole for them to look at. All they had to do was acknowledge it and they would live. (v. 9)
For us, it’s Jesus Christ, lifted up for the judgement we ourselves deserve. Taking sin we ourselves have committed. And when we acknowledge Him as the only way to real life, the One true and merciful God, He lets us live.
After He saved them from His judgement, God blessed His people with a spring of water that made them celebrate like they had not celebrated in years.
Perhaps you’ve heard it said that mercy is not getting what you deserve while grace is getting what you do not deserve. I believe that rings true here in these verses. After God granted His mercy and did not give the Israelites what they deserved, He gave them abundant flowing water. The gift of grace, which they did not deserve. Because Almighty God is good. And He is full of mercy.
He stills grants His mercy. When we look to Him whom He raised up on the cross to take the judgement for it, He showed us His mercy. Now He gives us life, real and abundant life.
He gives us grace we don’t deserve. Because Almighty God is still good. And He is full of mercy.
Have you received His mercy? Have you taken Him up on His grace?