Evil exists. It is a fatal mistake to think that it does not. Yet, it is very hard to find anyone who is doing an evil act who will admit to doing so, even to themselves. Most often, sophisticated people doing great evil will justify their actions, convinced to the depths of their souls that they are doing what is absolutely good, right, and noble. Indeed, the right course of action is rarely obvious. Truth and falsehood; right and wrong; these are not simple distinctions.
Not surprisingly, the word of the Lord and the language in which it was written offer us a tool to help cut through the moral fog.
The nation spoke against the Lord and Moses,
“Why did you take us from Egypt to die in the desert,
there is no bread or water and our souls are disgusted
with this lightweight bread.”
This complaint is about the miraculous Manna from Heaven, one of God’s great blessings! In response, the Lord sends venomous snakes to attack the nation, killing a great number of people. Realizing the gravity of their ingratitude, the nation approaches Moses and acknowledges that they erred in grumbling. Moses prays to God on their behalf. God instructs Moses to make a serpent and place it on a stick. Moses makes a copper snake and miraculously, any stricken person who looked at this snake survived.
Isn’t this more work than is necessary? Why offer a cure for the snakes rather than simply removing them?