After almost 40 years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites were heading north and nearing the Promised Land. The king of the Edomites, however, refused to let them pass through his country.They, therefore, had to turn south and take a much longer route to their destination.The Israelites began to grumble and complain about Moses and God.As a consequence, God sent poisonous snakes among the people.
There were many poisonous snakes in this region, including horned vipers, puff adders, cobras and carpet vipers. The Israelites were evidently protected from these snakes by the Lord up to this point, but that ended with this latest disobedience to Moses and God.Many people were being killed by the snakes, so they begged Moses to pray for them.Moses did pray for them, and this is what happened:
“The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” Numbers 21:8.9 (NIV)
Notice that God didn’t remove the snakes.The people kept getting bitten and poisoned, but He gave them a remedy.If they would gaze at the snake made of bronze on the pole, they would live, not die.It is curious that God told Moses to make a metal image of a snake and put it on a pole, but that is what happened.Then, after some time, the Israelites broke camp and moved on.
1400 years later, while Jesus was speaking to a man named Nicodemus,He talked about the snake made of bronze prepared by Moses.Here is what He said:
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” John 3:14-15 (NIV)
The next verse, John 3:16, finishes the lesson taught by Jesus:
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (bold print added)
John 3:16 is saying that God loved the world “in this way“.“In this way” is referring to Moses lifting up an image of a snake made of bronze on a tall pole.This event is recorded in the Old Testament’s Book of Numbers:
“The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” Numbers 21:8-9 (NIV)
Why did Jesus compare Himself to an image of a poisonous snake made out of bronze, and lifted up high on a pole?Below are two reasons:
First, the bronze metal snake was harmless, but was a symbol of sin.It was “lifted up” on a pole for all the people to see.Jesus was sinless, but made to be sin on the cross in order to save mankind.Jesus was “lifted up” on the cross for all mankind to see.
Second, when the Israelites bitten by snakes looked up at the snake made of bronze, they were healed and they lived.Likewise, when we, who are bitten by sin, look up to Jesus in faith, we are healed and obtain eternal life.
John 3:16 is saying that God loves the world in this same manner that He loved the ancient wandering Jews who were bitten by poisonous snakes. He told Moses to lift up a serpent made of bronze on a pole to save the lives of the Israelites that were bitten by snakes, and Jesus was lifted up on the cross to save us from our sins.
Just as the snakes were not removed from the camp of the Israelites, evil is not removed from around us. If we are “bitten by sin”, all we have to do is look at Him (believe in Him) and we will be healed (saved).The likeness of a serpent was lifted up on a pole to save the Jewish people from an earthly death, and Jesus was “lifted up” on the cross to save us from eternal death.
Are you being bitten and poisoned by sin in your life?Try looking up to Jesus who was lifted up on a cross for your salvation.Be healed and receive the free gift of eternal life.
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” Galatians 3:13 (NIV, bold print added)
Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died on the cross for the sins of man-kind?Do you have faith in Him and trust Him?Do you lean on Him daily and pray for guidance and forgiveness for the things you do wrong?Do you thank God, in Jesus’ name, for the blessings you have?Do you believe that there is no other way to Heaven except through Jesus Christ?
If your answers to these questions are “Yes”, then you are a child of God.God is your Father, and Jesus is your Lord in Heaven, sitting at the right hand of God. Also, Jesus has sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in you and guide you through this life.
Have you ever thought about how God sees us?Is He a concerned, involved Father?Is He strict and unforgiving?Does He have a plan for us, or are we on our own?
The Bible tells us how we, as children of God, are seen by our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.The verses below are all taken from the New International Version.
1.You are a child of God.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—“ John 1:12
2.You are sons or daughters of God.
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor. 6:18
3.Christ is the Vine, and you are the branch.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;”John 15:5
4.You are Jesus’ friend.
“. . . Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
5.You are no longer a slave to sin.
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— “ Romans 6:6
6.You are a co-heir of God, along with Jesus Christ.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,” Romans 8:17
7.You are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.God lives in you.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20
8.You are a new creature in Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Cor. 5:17
9.You are holy and blameless before God.
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Ephesians 1:4
10.You are redeemed and forgiven.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, . .“ Ephesians 1:7
11.You have been made to do good works.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
12.You are a citizen of Heaven.
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Philippians 3:20
13.You are holy and beloved.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Col. 3:12
14.God chose you and loves you.
“For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you,” 1 Thess. 1:4
This is how you are seen and loved by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Take a moment to reflect upon this free gift of love, and your response to it.