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Monday, March 05, 2018

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In last Sunday's reading from Exodus, the people of Israel
heard a wondrous reminder: "I AM the Lord who brought
you out of Egypt." In the first verse of this week's reading
we are twice reminded that they are now "on the way"--
on a journey. Yet, are we really so surprised when these
people are hardly out the door before they are impatient
and dissatisfied, complaining about the pace, the food
and the accommodations? When a plague of poisonous
serpents brings them to their senses, in repentance they
plead for mercy. Fortunately, they have not forgotten
where their salvation has come from--from this merciful
God who now delivers them once again. The surprising
irony of this story is that their salvation comes in exactly
the shape they would least expect it. In God's merciful
way of forgiveness, the poisonous serpent of death
becomes the agent and sign of God's deliverance and

On this Lenten journey we are invited to relive that
surprising irony. We keep our eyes focused ahead to the
end of our journey--to the cross of Jesus. For we know
that there, precisely in the agent and sign of death, we
will be given to see God's forgiveness and salvation.

God of mercy, as we journey toward the cross, keep us ever mindful of your mercy and forgiveness that are able to sustain us with hope in the midst of our impatience and distrust that so threaten to occupy our attention. Amen.

James L. Boyce, '72
Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Greek,
Luther Seminary

Numbers 21:4-9 (NRSV)

4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way.
5 The people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food."
6 Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died.
7 The people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people.
8 And the Lord said to Moses, "Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live."
9 So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.