In the book of Numbers in The Old Testament, we find the events that occurred when the Jewish people were in the desert. The people bounced back and forth between rebellion and repentance towards Moses and God. Their complaints earned them painful punishments. The notable episode of the bronze snake shows the attitude of the people in the desert and God’s mercy towards them. Read on to learn the story of Moses and the Bronze Snake and the parallel that that the Gospel of John shows between Moses’s snake and Jesus’s cross.
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!’
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.
The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people.
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.”
Just as the Israelites suffered because of their complaints, we too suffer when we do things that do not please God. Sometimes it is judgments and curses that we bring upon ourselves or simply the consequences of our actions. Fortunately, there is a way to get out of this pain and stay alive: look up from your pain and see the bronze serpent upon the pole. What does that mean for us today? John 3:14-15 answers this question: “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.” Today, we are invited to believe in Jesus Christ to heal our wounds and suffering, because the Son of God bore them on the Cross.