Going around Edom — how to get back on the right path with God

Numbers 21
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Lately I’ve had “The Natural” on repeat in my bedroom.  If you’re not familiar with the film, it tells the story of a mysterious had-been baseball player redeeming his career with one last heroic year, reckoning with a forgettable past and a pair of roller coaster romances while swatting unbelievable home runs to lead his team to a pennant in dramatic fashion.

The movie is based on a book — which I admit I’ve never read — and the story in the book is likely much richer, but the movie still does a solid treatment of the depravity and redemption of man. The main character Roy Hobbs is portrayed as a faulty person who prides himself on his talent early in his career, yet makes an effort to do things right the second time around with spectacular results.

Likewise, Israel already has a track record of failure in Numbers 21. God has given Israel specific direction through Moses, yet their personal needs and desires take over, usually resulting in a cycle of disaster and renewed reverence. The story is elongated over hundreds of years, but the end result is also redemption.

In this chapter, Israel is gaining a reputation and generating hostility among the surrounding nations (sound familiar?) Canaan decides to attack Israel, likely out of fear and jealousy.  God grants favor to Israel and they promptly trounce the Canaanites and take over their land.

Proud of their previous victory, Israel begins complaining as God tells them they are to go around another nation (Edom) instead of attacking them. This doesn’t settle well with God — he lets loose a bunch of venomous snakes to take care of the whiners. Israel rightfully responds with humility.

And then God does something very strange thereafter. He asks Moses to post up a bronze serpent, and God proclaims that whoever looks upon this serpent will be healed in the case of being bitten by a snake. Essentially, He decides to make a way for them to be saved.

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We can all relate to a person like Roy Hobbs.  There are times when we believe we really “have something,” and we start attributing this accolade to ourselves, ignoring God altogether in the process.  We try to take a shortcut to fame and renown. And then, while we’re not paying attention, our feet get swept out from under us.

But then, something strange happens. While we deserve condemnation, God gives us a second chance:

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

If there is one method of redemption you can count on, it is Jesus Christ.  Instead of going around Edom, look to the Lord for direction today. And if you decide to go through Edom instead and you take a fall, look to the Lord anyway.  Either way, salvation is imminent.

I’m curious: are there any other films you know of that contain elements of redemption?  Please comment below.

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