(This is the first in what will be weekly posts on different scriptures. I am taking an online religion course, and one of the assignments give you the option of writing a blog post, as well as several writing prompts to use as you are writing. Though I will try to make sure they are doctrinally sound, they are obviously my own thoughts and not meant to be anything official.)
There is a story in the Old Testament (Numbers 21:4-9) that has always captured my attention. The Israelites, once again under pressure, turn to murmuring. Trying once again to teach them humility and to trust in Him, they are bitten by 'fiery serpents' which take the life of many of them. Repentant, the Israelites come to Moses, and ask Him to ask the Lord to take away the serpents.
The Lord does provide deliverance to them, but not in the way they are expecting it. They asked for the serpents to be taken away, instead they are given a way to be healed from the serpent's bites. Moses has been commanded to make a pole and fashion a fiery serpent to put upon it. When the people have the faith to turn and look at it, they will live. Many people looked and were saved. However, like Alma points out (Alma 33:19-20) some of the people were hard-hearted and simply refused to look.
This is the part that always gets to me. You are surrounded by poisonous snakes, one of which has bitten you, which means you will die. The Prophet of the Lord has told you that if you look at the snake on the pole you will live. Yet, you will not look? Even if you don't believe it will work, how can you not look anyways, just in case?
However, in looking around the world today, I can't help but wonder - how many today would look? The serpent upon the pole was symbolic. As with most scriptures I think they have many different meanings. First, and most often referenced is the similitude to the Savior. He was lifted up that all men might know where to look and not perish. Do we look to the Savior?
Do we read the words He spoke? Do we try to follow those words in our daily lives? Do we seek His will in our lives? Do we reach out to Him in prayer? Do we really try to align our lives with the example He set for us? Is it any harder for us to do these things, than it was for the Israelites to come near to Moses and look up at the pole?
The other thing that the story symbolizes, to me anyways, is our willingness to Follow the Prophet. The people were in danger of destruction. The Lord shared with them how to avoid it through His mouthpiece the Prophet. Are we willing to follow the Prophet to avoid spiritual destruction? Is the advice the Prophet gives us taken seriously in order to avoid events he is warning about. Does it seem too simple? Do they seem antiquated, or not 'politically correct'? Do they go against our social views?
The Israelites were tempted in many different ways, in order to test them, and purify them for entrance into the Promised Land. We too, will be tempted in ways that are almost too much to bear - when that time comes, and we are in that moment of decision - Will We Look?