The Snake Lifted Up in the Desert and Jesus at Work
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 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 3:13–15 NIV Read More
When the Hebrews were in the wilderness, they grumbled and complained against God a lot. One time when it happened God sent a plague of snakes on the people to get their attention off of their own priorities and back on to God’s plan. It says ‘fiery’ snakes in some translations, but just like we say a hot pepper can ‘burn’ your mouth, it’s an idiom for poisonous or dangerous. God sent the snakes and gave Moses instructions to make a bronze snake statue and put it up on a high pole. Whoever got bit by the snake could look at that pole and be healed instantly of the snake bite.
Kind of weird, isn’t it?
We know from all over the scriptures that God doesn’t want us to deliberately suffer. He’s not some bully trying to find a way to beat down His victims. Hebrews 12 says that all hardship can be endured as discipline that is training us to be God’s kids. From that perspective, you can see that the whole snake deal is like distracting a crying kid from their fit by saying “OOOH LOOK AT THAT!” and pointing to something. The attention shifts, the fit stops, the family can move along.
God gave a struggle to enhance the situation, then He gave deliverance to show His miraculous control over all things. For the people that continued in their hatred towards God, there was death by poison snake. For the people that turned to trust in God, there was healing and long life. The snakes didn’t go away after you got healed, but neither did the brass snake on the pole.
You can imagine that at some point, people didn’t care about the snakes. You could keep looking at that brass snake on the pole and bite after bite would be a nuisance, an inconvenience, but no big deal. You’d start walking over the tops of snakes, smashing them and tossing them aside as they bit you to no effect.
In John 3 Jesus brings us into that scene as an example of the Christian life. The Devil can bite and annoy, but as we look to Jesus, the effects wear off. Eventually, the nuisance of sin won’t affect us nearly as bad as it used to. Keeping our focus on Jesus and not complaining about the wilderness creates a path that leads us through to everlasting life.
Just as that snake was lifted up on a pole, Jesus is predicting His death on the cross. Or is He? We also lift up Jesus when we talk about Him at the dinner table or at work. We can lift up Jesus every day so that those around us that need rescue from the snakes can be healed.
Walk on. Don’t be afraid of those snakes and keep looking and lifting up Jesus.
You can get the Daily Bible Readings to your inbox via email every day by subscribing here. Join the discussion online on Facebook or Twitter.
One Life Podcast on iTunes
One Life Podcast on Google Play