A Story of Meaning (Part 3)

By | November 30, 2023

[November 30, 2023]  The Exodus story of meaning is a three-part series that attempts to dive into the meaning of one of the greatest stories ever told in the Bible.  I will explain how this story can help each of us in a dramatic and positive way.  See Part 1 and Part 2.

The Israelites are now out in the desert, and they’re there for 40 years.  You might think, what kind of leadership do they have?  It’s not that big of desert.  The answer is the desert after tyranny is no joke, and maybe it takes three generations to get through it.

The Israelites are wandering around in the desert.  What happens?  They’re worshipping false idols, and they’re tempted.  And it’s no wonder they’re tempted because their lives are not going so well while they’re in the desert.  No wonder they’re having a crisis of confidence.  Maybe they’re pining for the old days, and they’re not so sure that the God who informed them that being the subjects of tyranny was wrong because now here they are in the desert, and so they lack faith.

Their lack of faith is understandable.  What does God do when he hears their complaints?  He sends poisonous snakes in there to bite them.

I think that’s pretty brutal, and that’s the sort of thing that makes the atheist types recoil about the conceptions of God in the Old Testament.  It’s not exactly what you’d expect from an all-merciful being.  Those poor Israelites, first they were in the tyranny as enslaved people, then they had to go across the Red Sea, and now they’ve been wandering around in the desert, and that’s not good.  And God’s best solution is to send a bunch of snakes in to bite them.

What happens if you lose faith or start looking for faith in the wrong direction?  The answer is Hell gets a little deeper.  Hell is a bottomless pit because no matter how bad it is, you can always do something to make it worse.  So now the Israelites have not only lost their faith, but venomous creatures are biting them.

The Israelites get tired of being bitten by the snakes, and they go to Moses and say, please have a chat with God because you seem to be reasonably tight with Him.  How about you get Him to call off the snakes and maybe we’ll behave a little better.  And Moses says, okay, I’ll see what I can do, and he goes and has a chat with God, which is no trivial matter.

God doesn’t do what you’d expect.  You’d think, okay, all right guys, you’ve been bit enough, no more snakes.  But that is not what happens.  It doesn’t happen because there’s no getting rid of the snakes.  You have to learn to contend with them.  Maybe it’s better to learn to contend with the snakes than it is to inhabit a world where there’s no danger.

God says something astonishing and very interesting.  He tells Moses to cast a snake in bronze and to raise it up on a staff.  The staff seems to reference the staff of Moses, which is what you put in the ground to orient yourself.  It’s like, here I stand.  It’s a center point of life.

In any case, you put the bronze snake up on staff.  That’s also the symbol of healing, the physician’s symbol of healing, the staff with the snakes, and so it’s a symbol of transformation, partly because snakes shed their skin and are reborn, and so they’re viewed as agents of transformation.  And all that is lurking in that symbol.

And then God says, get the Israelites to go look at the snake on the staff, and then the poison won’t poison them anymore.  Now, that’s interesting because one of the things we learned in schools of psychotherapy in the last 100 years is that if you get people to voluntarily confront what makes them afraid and what makes them want to avoid, they get better.  It’s curative.

That’s the message here.  It’s like if something is terrifying you, pay attention to it.  That’s actually what you teach people in psychotherapy; it’s their cardinal technique.  If people can discover what they’re avoiding and then confront it voluntarily, they’ll get better.  The reason seems to be that if people confront what they’re afraid of, they don’t get less afraid; they get braver.  And that’s different.

It’s not like they get accustomed to what they’re looking at and are no longer afraid; that isn’t what happens.  They discover that there is a lot more to them than they thought.

Now they’re braver because they’ve confronted this thing that terrifies them, and it’s so interesting in that story that God’s cure for the venomous serpent is voluntary exposure to the source of terror.  It’s so interesting that that’s the case.  This idea is relevant to the issue of suffering.

Focus your attention on that which you would like to avoid.  Look into the abyss at what frightens you the most because that is where you will find your courage to carry on.

NOTE: I hope you enjoyed reading this series.  I credit Dr. Jordan Peterson and Carl Jung for studying this topic and helping me, through their writings and lectures, to better understand the connection between the Bible and us.


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

42 thoughts on “A Story of Meaning (Part 3)

  1. Jessica Luden

    Best article ever by Gen. Satterfield, thank you sir. You opened my eyes.

    1. Randy Goodman

      I agree Ayn but what Gen. Satterfield has brought to us here is a deep look at the meaning, an easily understandable meaning of one of the important stories of the Old Testament. We are rarely introduced to a “meaning” or how the Bible can directly apply to our everyday lives. This is what makes this specific part of the series so important. Thank you Gen. S. for your look inside a major story of the Bible and I hope you continue doing so. 😉

    1. Mikka Solarno

      Yep, that is why I’m a free member of this blog and will stay on as long as Gen. S. writes articles for us.

  2. New Girl #One

    The awaited final installment on this series is finally here. Truly enjoyable and educational. Thank you Gen. Satterfield for telling the story of what God did with the snakes sent into bite the Israelites in the desert. 👀👀👀👀

    1. Newbie in Seattle

      Hi Bob! You bet. I’ve been waiting for this article now for two days and I was not disappointed. I love how Gen. Satterfield points out items in the Bible that turn out to be ‘proven’ in science 2,000 years later. Like to face your fears and you will become stronger – not less afraid – but braver. What a wonderful, positive message.

  3. American Girl

    Gen. Satterfield, once again, gives us some practical look at how ancient ideas are not really old and worthless like so many in our modern society claim. These old stories are perfect for us TODAY and as long as we exists. Understanding this will help us immensely. Keep this biblical series going, Gen. S. I love it.

  4. Maureen S. Sullivan

    Gen. Satterfield, you hit the ball out of the park with this article, and the two leading up to this. Please give us some more ideas about Exodus or any part of the Bible. It makes me appreciate the Biblical stories that much more.

  5. Eddie Gilliam

    Excellent conclusion to Israelites in the desert. The center theme of the Bible is Relationship. Relationship with GOD and Man. Relationship with man and man. When Moses was called by God to come up to the top of Mount Saini to give him instruction to write the 10 commandments. The commandments are rules to help goverd the people behavior. The 1st two deals with our relationships or love ❤️ for God. The rest of the commandments deals with relationships with man and man. Here’s where God cause the snake to appear is while Moses was up on the mountain, the people get impatience Moses gone to long. They melted gold medals to make a staus, a god. God anger 😠 😡 with people made them drink the melted gold and sent snakes.
    General Douglas you brought up a Excellent point about the lack of Faith was the result of the people not looking to the staff with the snake on it for healing. Hebrews 11:1 stays Now Faith is the substance(the make up of something) of things hoped for and the evidence(the proof )of things not seen. Faith is a God pleaser. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith to believe God to heal your body, marriage , family and job issues .
    FAITH =Forwarded All Issues To Him.

      1. Northeast

        I second that. This article is one of Gen. Satterfield’s best. Pointing out the symbology and “connecting the dots” between our psychology and the Bible is rare and should be encouraged more. That is one of the reasons I’m a fan of https://www.theleadermaker.com and why I will always be so. Now, I’m going to encourage Gen. s. to write more of these Bible articles. Even the atheists will have to read them because there is no denying the links that Gen. S. has brought out for us.

    1. Patriot Wife

      🇺🇸 The message is here strong. Being a Christian is a way to resist being a slave. No surprise that the neo-Marxist LGBTQ crowds will hate the message here because they are slaves to their own ideology. 🇺🇸

  6. Suzzie

    Thank goodness, someone who actually understands the Bible and can communicate!

    1. Eddie Gilliam

      With my friend Doug permission when he needs a monthly article dealing with life issues. I would be happy to help out. I been preaching and teaching the Bible since June 1992. I am honored to read all the comments each day and the positive feedback you and others posted.

      1. Martin Shiell

        An honor to have you here Mr. Gilliam. Your comments are spot on. Thank you!

  7. Good Dog

    Gen. Satterfield has, once again, knocked the ball out of the park. Home run! This three-part series was fantastic and I hope that those who are most religious take note and work with us to future the idea that the Bible is not an old, out-of-day book that has little or no value to a modern society (like so many today argue – esp. politicians). Take a look at what Jeff Blackwater wrote below. He is telling us the truth that Islam is NOT compatible with a democracy and Christianity is not compatible with Tyranny (found across the Islamic world). Now that is something that should be talked about but that discussion is banned across social media.

  8. Pen Q

    Gen. Satterfield wrote, “And then God says, get the Israelites to go look at the snake on the staff, and then the poison won’t poison them anymore. Now, that’s interesting because one of the things we learned in schools of psychotherapy in the last 100 years is that if you get people to voluntarily confront what makes them afraid and what makes them want to avoid, they get better. It’s curative.” Great job of looking at an ancient idea and connecting the dots to the present science of psychology.

    1. USA Patriot II

      Got that right Pen Q and that was the point. I hope there are more series like this one in the near future. Note that Gen. S wrote that those who are Christians cannot survive under Tyrants. And that is happening here in America. The best way to dominate people is to first take away their Christianity.

      1. Jeff Blackwater

        Is this the fall of America? Note also, something Gen. Satterfield did not write is that Islamic religions are compatible with tyranny and, in fact, can only exist under tyranny.

      2. Edward G.

        Yep, and allowing unregulated immigration (legal or not) into America of Islamists, is pushing America and the West away from Democracy since Islamists cannot exist peacefully in a Democracy. 😎

        1. Cow Blue

          Excellent discussion and very worthy of a read. feel free to expand upon this idea for us.

  9. Max Foster

    Fantastic ending. Gen. Satterfield, you’ve sold me on your ideas. Please Please, give us more of the Bible that can be translated into our everyday lives. Your point in Part 1 that you were given these stories and no context or how they applied to you hit home with me. I think that is part of the problem with ‘religion’ today.,.. just blurting out scripture without any attempt to relate it to our everyday lives. You’ve done this hear and it is greatly appreciated. And, also thanks for alerting me to Dr. Jordan Peterson and Dr. Carl Jung and their thoughts on this subject.

    1. JT Patterson

      Max, thanks, and we all know — being long-term readers of this blog — that Gen. Satterfield is most interested in practicality. And here he does it again. What I’d like to read — and he hints about it here — is the idea of leadership in this story. Now, that would be great too.

  10. Willy the Banger

    Sir, I’m new here and just will say THANK YOU for your coverage of part of the Exodus story. I’m happy I found you.

    1. Georgie B.

      Welcome Willy to the leadership forum where you can show ideas and have others politely and critically give you positive feedback. Hang in there and read these comments daily.

  11. Xerces II

    Gen. Satterfield, excellent !!!!!! The best ending ever for your series. thank you for your thinking thru the Exodus Story. ✝️📖🙏🕊️

    1. KenFBrown

      Got that right. Maybe Gen. Satterfield could write a book on a modern interpretation of the Bible.


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