Here we go again. The Israelites got their daily bread and even got variety in the form of quail. Water flowed from rocks. And yet, in the first lesson from today's Daily Office readings, they are again cranky about the whole wilderness adventure. So, God sends poisonous snakes, a quick reminder that things could be a whole lot worse!
Then God gives instructions I find very startling. At God's urging, Moses makes the image of a snake from bronze and puts it on a pole, telling the assembly that anyone who is bitten but gazes upon the pole will live. This feels a whole lot like idol worship. Is a bronze snake better than a golden calf?
But closer reflection reveals God's purpose. The people were not invited to worship the bronze image nor pray to it. They were invited to trust God's instructions. The trouble arose from lack of trust in God, so the cure was to completely trust in God's instructions.
I find the way God went about structuring this little exercise in trust to be very profound. God indulged the need of the people for something tangible to make the focal point of their devotion. God met them where they were in their spiritual development. They didn't get a lecture. They just got a plan within their capabilities that accepted their mindsets.
God will meet us where we are. We don't need to read a book or climb a mountain. We just need to open our hearts.