The Serpent on the Staff


Moses and the Serpent on the Staff by Sebastien Bourdon

From Mount Hor they set out by way of the Red Sea, to bypass the land of Edom, but the people’s patience was worn out by the journey;  so the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” So the LORD sent among the people seraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of the Israelites died.  Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you. Pray to the LORD to take the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people,  and the LORD said to Moses: Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover – Accordingly Moses made a bronze serpent – and mounted it on a pole, and whenever the serpent bit someone, the person looked at the bronze serpent and recovered.  Numbers 21: 6-9

I have spent some time contemplating the above passage.  The people had been rescued from slavery by God, yet they complained and did not trust.  As always, when I read the bible, I think God gives us multiple meanings in the stories He left us.  I believe they actually happened, but there is an underlying message too.  God is a God of detail, and not of coincidence.  He is in everything. And everything is connected.

The metaphor I see here is that the serpents that are biting us are actually our own sin.  The sins we have committed, and the sins committed against us by others.  Sin brings death, just as the serpent bite did.  It can bring death when we sit in un-forgiveness and rage toward those who have wronged us.  It can bring death when we sit in the pride of our sin, never examining ourselves, never repenting.  He will make transparent the wrongs, revealing them to all.  The truth shall set us all free.  Anyone who thinks they can hide or cover up will soon find that they cannot.

We can only be healed when we stare straight at it.  When we examine our conscience and repent.  When we look at those who have wronged us, and we forgive them and love the way Christ does.  For some of us, those wounds are gigantic, and seem insurmountable.  But for God nothing is impossible.

I have read many prophecies about a “warning,” some call it an, “illumination of conscience,”  and I have even heard the term, “rescue.”  One day in my prayer I felt the Blessed Mother tell me that these are all the same thing.  It is a warning, to turn back to God.  It is a an illumination of conscience, because you will be shown exactly who you are in the eyes of God.  It is a rescue for many, because you will be saved from perdition.  You will stare at the serpent on the staff, if you are open to healing.  If you are not, you will look away, thereby taking your eyes off of God.  You can, of your own free will, choose God and be healed, or choose death.  The choice is up to you.  He is the exacter of the judgement you have chosen.  Take care to examine yourself daily, so when you stare at the serpent on the staff, you can forgive and be forgiven, and be totally healed.  Whether this is a one time event for all of us, or perhaps when each individual is shown his or her own soul (as I feel happened to me), or just upon death, or perhaps all of that, I know not.  I just know your time will come and you must choose.

I have often been asked if I am a Prophet.  All I can tell you is, if a Prophet is someone who calls people back to God, then yes, I have accepted that assignment.  I cannot speak for God, except through my own interpretation of what He tells me.  I have been wrong. He never has.  And last night I was sitting on my porch, watching a fairly raging storm.  I was in awe of the power of God, and I felt so small.  I felt God tell me He has SO MUCH MORE in store for us, and yet we think so little, we fear suffering, we trust not at all.  He wants us to trust.  He showed me awhile back just a glimmer of His creation – and he did it using a tree.  We have everything backwards when we worship the earth.  If we worship the creator, he lets us have harmony with the earth.  On that particular day, I totally understood the Canticle of the Sun that St. Francis wrote.  Our preparation in these perilous times is not one of worldly preparation of bunkers and food.  It is spiritual.  It is about knowing and trusting your Creator.  It is about asking for your will to be one with His.  Here is what I recorded in my journal last night;

I want to draw you into eternity to live in my will.  It makes you one with me the Creator so you are drawn into creation.  I AM outside of time.  I AM outside of space.  I AM, so you will BE.  Just BE.  BE in the present moment.  The past–your memories, the present–your now, the future — your hopes and anxieties, all wrapped into one.  BE present.  BE in the Spirit.  With each breath you take know that you can BE in ME.  Transcending everything.  I AM love.  I AM perfection.  I AM all of creation.  The Angels bask in the glory of my now.  So too shall you live.  I gave you a small glimpse of this when I let you feel but a drop of creation in that tree.  Heaven IS.  And the time for Heaven is now.  So just BE in Me.  Receive Me.  I will give all of Me to you just as I did in My Son.  The storm will rage. The lightening will strike.  The thunder will roll.  And you will know the Great I AM and you will BE.  And all will be amazed.  Contemplate creation and I will give it to you now.

Exodus 4:11

So I want to tell you to go forth and contemplate meeting your maker.  Just BE with Him. Examine yourself, go to confession if need be, and then just settle in and rest in the healing He can bring to you, if only you allow it.

About veilofveronica

I am a mother and wife as well as an RCIA and Adult Faith Formation catechist at a parish in the south. I have 3 children and a great husband.
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11 Responses to The Serpent on the Staff

  1. Christina says:

    Needed. I’ve been having a hard time forgiving and being cheery, but I’m noticing that it’s coming in the face of my own sins sometimes – even when it’s simply just hunger or sugar deprivation. Thank you for this. I sometimes feel this “transcendence” from our earthly constraints and anxieties, and I’ve privately called it “walking on the eternal plains” to myself over the past few years when I want to remember – as if I’m walking on one, long, beautiful, and vast space with God all around and not fearing the valleys and mountains below me. Hope all’s well with you and your family:)

  2. Anne says:

    Thank you for this….this morning in prayer I kept hearing….. Death to self. Hand ones self over to God and in the face of His overwhelming Mercy be ruthlessly honest about oneself. Then the Holy Spirit can fill us to overflowing……. Because all the space I have taken up is available!!!
    Then I read this…. So wonderfully expressed.

    • He tells me to die to self all the time… God Bless!

    • Marie says:

      Anne, my spiritual director once said “We must be BRUTALLY HONEST with ourselves….”

      One reason is God is TRUTH and we must abide in the truth in order to abide in Him, by coming out of the dark cave of falsehood and self deception into the blinding light of His Truth.

      Another reason is God already sees us as we really are and wants to heal us, but until we admit how sick we are our self love blocks His cure.

      We need to plunge into this knowledge of our sinfulness as into an ocean without holding back. The sooner we do that, the sooner GOD can cleanse us to the depths of our souls.

      It is freeing…it is healing…it is only then we will taste God’s unconditional LOVE for us, hovering over us with the remedy to all our ills.

  3. Tarja says:

    I am sorry to intervene but I think that picture of Archangel Raphael might be inappropriate. I suspect that this picture is from New Age sources because of the caduceus he has in his hand. The real symbols in Archangel Raphael pictures/icons/statues can be found in here

    I’m an Eastern Orthodox Christian and that’s why I know you can find many icons of Holy Archangel Raphael with his proper symbols.

    I loved the article!

    In Christ, Tarja

  4. Marie says:

    Susan, I just read this in Three Ages of the Interior Life, and it made me think of your post:
    “Ch 36 : The Cause of the Passive Purification of the Spirit

    Having described the passive purification of the spirit as it appears especially in the interior lives of the great servants of God, we shall now explain this spiritual state theologically by determining its cause.

    “We have seen that it consists chiefly in a profound experiential knowledge of our indigence and wretchedness and, by contrast, of the infinite majesty of God, a knowledge which is accompanied by great spiritual aridity and a lively desire for perfection. What can be the cause of this obscure and painful contemplation?

    “St. John of the Cross (1) answers, as theology must do, by invoking Holy Scripture, which speaks to us in a number of passages of a purifying light, a spiritual fire that rids the soul of its stains.


    “The Book of Wisdom says of the just: “As gold in the furnace He hath proved them, and as a victim of a holocaust He hath received them.” (2) Gold in the crucible is purified by material fire; a still more intense fire is needed to transform coal into a diamond; likewise, in tribulation the soul of the just man is purified by a spiritual fire. Scripture often insists on this thought, telling us that God is a fire which gradually consumes whatever hinders His reign in souls.(3)

    “Jeremias writes in his Lamentations: “From above He hath sent fire into my bones. . . . He hath made me desolate, wasted with sorrow all the day long.” (4) In the light of this spiritual fire, which in him, the prophet sees far more clearly the sins of Israel, the justice and goodness of God, and he prays earnestly to Him for the salvation of sinners.

    “The Psalmist says likewise: “Who can understand sins? From my secret ones cleanse me, O Lord.” (5) “My substance is as nothing before Thee.” (6) “O my God, enlighten my darkness.” (7) “Create a clean heart in me, O God.” (8) Thus, like a flash of lightning, the Holy Ghost illumines the soul He wishes to purify. He says at times to the soul: “Do you wish to be purified?” And if the reply is what it ought to be, a profound work begins in it; divine truth is given to the soul to deliver it from the depth of self-love that still so often deludes it. “If you continue in My word,” says Christ, “you shall be My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (9) If anyone lives seriously by the words of Christ, correcting himself, the first Truth will gradually penetrate into his soul and deliver it from that most pernicious of lies, the lie that a person tells himself while cherishing his illusions.

    “We can never too strongly desire this purifying light which Scripture speaks of. Unfortunately we often flee from it, because we are afraid we may be told the truth about ourselves, when we so greatly love to tell others the truth about themselves.”

  5. Pingback: Radical Trust and the Purification of Suffering | Veil of Veronica

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