JESUS AND MOSES’ SERPENT
July 3, 2020
Recently, Ginger and I read;
14“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
15so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
John 3:14–15 (NASB95)
We followed the cross-reference for Moses lifting up the serpent to Numbers 21:6–9 and read;
6The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
7So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people.
8Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.”
9And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived. (NASB95)
Jesus’ analogy in the Book of John equates “the Son of Man” in John chapter 3 with Moses’ bronze serpent in Numbers 21.
The fiery serpents in the wilderness represented sin and its resulting death. The people asked that the fiery serpents (sin) be removed. Instead, the Lord gave them a cure for the deadly venom of the serpents (sin). That cure was in the form of a bronze serpent fashioned by Moses by the Lord’s command, and the cure was effectual when the people looked upon the serpent of Moses.
What confounded us was that the Lord chose the type of Jesus to be a bronze serpent. Beginning in the Garden, the serpent typically represents something Satanic or demonic.
We could not figure out God’s purposes in that, and we prayed and asked Him to show us.
A couple of hours later, the Lord said,
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
(see 2 Corinthians 5:21)
With that, the light shone brightly –
Moses’ serpent on the standard was Jesus on the cross. Having taken the sins of the world upon Himself, He became sin. When the people in the wilderness looked upon Him, their atonement, they were healed. That’s the connection between Jesus and Moses’ Serpent. Approximately 1,400 years before the Messiah was born, God gave the Israelites instruction (and healing) as to how the Gospel would be worked out.
The typology is perfect and beautiful.
13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”—
Galatians 3:13 (NASB95)
Two Reasons For Sharing This –
1. I’ve been a Born-Again Believer in Jesus Christ for 40 years and do not recall ever hearing an explanation of why God had the Israelites look upon a serpent to be healed. Perhaps there are many such teachings out there, but this has always been a mystery to me until now.
I suspect that there are others like me who had not put this together.
2. Even if you have understood the typology of Moses’ Serpent on the standard in the wilderness, God’s answer to our prayer for understanding is a testimony of His faithfulness to “teach you (us) all things.” Thank you, Lord!
Lord, give us grace to begin to comprehend your love and sacrifice for us – the price you paid.
THE REST OF THE STORY (and a challenge)
What happened to Moses’ Serpent?
4He (Hezekiah) removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan.
5He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.
6For he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.
2 Kings 18:4–6 (NASB95)
Approximately 700 years after Moses fashioned the Serpent in the wilderness, Judah worshipped that same bronze Serpent which pointed to Jesus Christ the Redeemer, rather than worshipping the Redeemer Himself. Hezekiah, the most righteous king and reformer, destroyed the serpent which had become an object of worship.
Jesus charged the Pharisees with the same idolatry.
39You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,
40yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
John 5:39–40 (NIV84)
The Pharisees worshipped the Scriptures as their source of salvation / eternal life; except, like the Bronze Serpent, the Scriptures point to Jesus in Whom we have eternal life.
This is cause for self-examination. Where is our focus?
With the Internet we have virtually unlimited sources of Bible study, teaching, & preaching, etc.; and with social media we likewise have unlimited opportunity to share with each other what’s on our heart.
A simple test will indicate where our heart’s priorities lie. When we review our on-line posts, do we most often focus on a teacher, preacher, ministry, world events and circumstances, or even the Bible? Or is our focus on the Person Who is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
18“But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.
Matthew 15:18 (NASB95)
34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
Matthew 12:34 (NIV84)
From what I see, we need to drastically change our priorities. Do not confuse any person, ministry, teaching, or even the Bible; with our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He must truly be the Beginning and End of all things to us; and that will be evident by what we communicate.
Let’s be of the same heart and attitude as Hezekiah who,
“clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him”
Please seek Jesus and, in Him, find the way to go from here. He is faithful to teach you all things.
July 3, 2020