So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. 7 Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people.8 Then the Lord told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!”
|Life on a tree
As we approach the end of the book of Numbers, we see the children of Israel, finally after 40 years getting to the Jordan border where the promise land of Canaan lies. A journey, which the Bible says needed to take only 11 days, “Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir. But forty years after the Israelites left Egypt…” (Deut. 1:2). This in itself is a lesson for another day. However our story today is a simple but profound one, let me set the context.
Israel is coming to the final years of their 40 years journey and as they get closer to their promise they are even more weary from misplaced hope and Satan’s temptations. This is evidenced by the increased battles, grumblings and temptations Israel faces just before they arrive Jericho ( Num 21-25). Our story today comes in after Israel wins a big battle with the Canaanites. Israel had asked the Lord for victory and God had answered their prayer and they were very victorious. However not long after this, Israel starts grumbling about wanting to go back to Egypt, complaining against the food they had, complaining about their situation.
So God disciplines them and sends snakes in the camp to kill them. This got Israel’s attention and they admitted to Moses that they were wrong and that they had sinned against God. So they asked Moses to call on God on their behalf, asking him to take the snakes away.
God’s plan for making sure the children of Israel did not die from their snakebites was one that shows a direct reflection of How He intended to save the entire world from their own death. In John 3:13-15, Jesus Christ says, “No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life”. He goes on to say, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him”(John 3:16-17).
Let us see in more detail the parallelism between our story today and God’s ultimate plan to save mankind from death and eternal separation from Him.
The People group
Consequence of man’s actions
Consequences of God’s Plan
Israel in the desert
Disobedience to God
Death by snake bite
Look at the snake on the pole
The rest of the world
Disobedience to God
(Rom 3:10-18, 23)
Death and eternal suffering in hell
(Rom 6:23, 2 Pet 3:9-15, Rev 21:7-8)
Believe on Jesus who hung on the pole (cross) to pay for the consequences of man’s sin and rose again to give man eternal life with God.
Eternal Life with God (Jhn 3:16). Right with God (Rom 3:22). Friends with God (Rom 5:10), love relationship with God (1 Jhn 4:16), rulership with God (Rev 20:6), God leaving us an inheritance (Eph. 1:11-14).
I love this story because of how it points to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. If the children of Israel who had snakebites did not look to the pole, they would have died. However all those who were destined to die, lived, because they obeyed God and followed His plan for saving them (21:9). In the same way today, God has already laid out the plan for eternal life and right standing with Him. Man always wants to work, achieve and control their own life, but man's plan to save himself will never work (Rom3:25, 30-31). Only God’s plan works because He is the one who created us and this world (Ps 100:3), so He knows what is best for us (Rom 11:33-34).
For me this brings great comfort for my soul. I am comforted knowing that right standing with God is not based on anything I have done or can do, but it is based on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for my sin (Eph. 2:8). I am comforted because I know for sure that I have eternal life (1 Jhn 5:13), because His Spirit lives in me and is the guarantee seal (Eph. 1:13-14) that all what the Lord has promised, will come true (2 Cor. 1:21-22). He says, “The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him” (Eph. 1:14).
My prayer is that you who know the Lord will delight in the security of your salvation and you who are still investigating the Christian faith, would study the scripture references and find true, everlasting comfort for your soul. Until next time…Read, Share and Be Comforted.