“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live” (Numbers 21:8-9). Why would God use a bronze serpent to heal the Israelites when a serpent often represents Satan and evil?
Jesus recalls the imagery of Moses’ bronze serpent to illustrate his death on the cross: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). God had instructed Moses to make a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole where the people could see it. All who looked at the bronze serpent would be healed of the deadly bites of very real serpents. The serpent was placed in the midst of the camp, not in the tabernacle, because nobody is saved by keeping the law, but only by looking at the uplifted serpent, just as Christ is the only Savior of our sins. Each Israelite had to look at the serpent for himself. None could look on behalf of another. Salvation was individual and personal.
But why a serpent? The bronze serpent on the pole foreshadowed Jesus on the cross. As God used a serpent to heal the people of the venom of serpents, on the cross Jesus became sin to heal us of the deathly venom of sin.
My Savior, You and You alone came to my rescue. Only You could and only You would. Your love is so deep that you went to the cross because of and in spite of my rebellion. God, I repent. I turn away from the old way of life and I will follow You. Teach me what is right and good, and change me to love purity and live generously.
You not only saved me from my sins, but You made me holy. I’m different now, and it’s a good difference. I desire Your pleasure more than anything else. You are my Lord, my Savior, my God.