Think about it...3 times a day, 365 days a year...that's more than a thousand times every year we pray that little prayer. That's a lot of blessing and a lot of gratitude. But can you imagine sitting down at the table and saying, "I'm disgusted with this wretched food"? The Bible calls the Jews a stiff-necked people. That means stubborn or hard-headed. They had been in the desert a long time and maybe manna wasn't exactly tasty. But can you imagine telling God that you're disgusted with it?
Anyway, God dealt with them in a powerful way...He sent snakes...lots and lots of slithering, biting snakes. Snakes are very symbolic in the Bible. They stand for the devil and for sin. So when the Israelites saw the snakes, they also saw their own sinfulness and lack of gratitude. In Numbers 21:7 it says: "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.”
Verse 8 tells us that when God sent the snakes, He also provided the remedy. "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." The pole is also symbolic because it prefigures the cross of Christ. Like Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:14-15: "And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
God didn't send the snakes among the Jews to condemn them but to open their eyes to their own sinfulness. And He didn't "send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:17)
Lord God, we are your children and we know that You love us. Only Your love can overcome our pride and our stubbornness. Only You can take the hardness from our hearts and turn our complaining into gratitude. Open our eyes, Lord, and help us to trust You in all things. In Jesus name we pray, Amen