sexta-feira, 9 de outubro de 2015


Moses made a bronze snake
and put it up on a pole.
Then when anyone was bitten by a snake
and looked at the bronze snake,
they lived.

Numbers 21:9 (read 21.4-9) NIV

This passage is hard to be understood literally. The literal interpretation of the passage presents a God who is intolerant of human weaknesses. He sent venomous snakes to kill people because they complained about being in the desert with no water, no bread and miserable tasting food. But Moses had compassion on the people and interceded with God on their behalf. The hero of the story was Moses who saved the people from a spiteful and capricious God. Some use this type of interpretation as a tool for practicing spiritual terrorism, saying that you had better be good or “God’ll get you”. Then they proceed to tell us what they mean by being good.

I understand that this is not the moral of the episode. It speaks of human spirituality rather than the attributes of God. It speaks of the facts of life and how to face them.

First fact: Life is hard. To follow the path of goodness does not guarantee that we will not have hardships, frustrations, failures and defeats. Living through hard times is not reserved only for evil people. Often wicked people fare much better than those who follow the path of goodness and justice. The Israelites were hoping to improve their lives. They were coming to the conclusion that their servile state in Egypt was better than the hostile desert.

Second fact: to complain and blame God or other people does not improve the situation. The people were being passive and waiting for a good and comfortable life to “fall from heaven”. When that didn’t happen, the culprits were God and Moses. The game of putting blame on others brought venomous snakes. Complaints turned into poison. This has a deep symbolism. Often when we complain about life we forget that we are part of the world we live in and that we have a participation in the bad as well as the good. Many times we are part of the problem. Passivity and omission on our part contribute to evil and create venomous snakes that come to bite us.

Third fact: God does not eliminate the problems, but gives us the means to meet them and find solutions. The snakes did not stop biting. They stayed on and continued to inflict the people with deadly bites. A bronze snake was taken and placed on a pole. By looking at the snake image the injured people were healed.

This story portrays humanity. The problems (venomous snakes) in the society are of our own creation and will not go away. Solutions depend on where we focus our gaze.

The bronze snake, placed on the pole, is the gift of life. Jesus took this symbolism (John 3.14-16). The "look to Jesus" reveals a new life of active love, which counters the effects of human alienation. The symbolism is that the cross becomes life.



They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

Nenhum comentário: