Look to Jesus!
“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 desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:13-15)
In our verses for today we are presented with the Easter story … couched in unfamiliar words. Jesus was sent from heaven to save us from the sting of death!
The story of the snakes in the desert takes place in Numbers chapter 21. The Israelites were, once again, grumbling and complaining against God and Moses. They were sick of the lack of bread. They were sick of the lack of water. They were sick of the miserable food. And while their bodies were healthy, their attitudes were sick! Taking their eyes off God and placing them on their circumstances certainly did not fare too well regarding their behavior, but their complaining fared even less well with God. I am reminded of the verses in Philippians that have become our family mantra:
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. (Philippians 2:14-16)
God was not happy with their stinking attitude and, I might add, He is not happy when my attitude stinks either! In the case of the Israelite people, He sent venomous snakes–biting many among them–causing death. The people turned to Moses immediately, crying that they had sinned and asking for his intersession. Mercifully, God told Moses to make a snake and place it on top of a pole. Anyone who had been bitten could merely look at that snake and live.
-K. H. Von Bogatzky
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 desert? 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, he lived.(Numbers 21:4-9)
You know, we often grumble and complain over God’s provisions for our lives as well. We don’t like the house we have, or the car we drive, or the spouse we live with. Our job is too hard, our money too little, our joy depleted. Our children rebel, our health declines, our friends fail us. You name it; we can complain about it. We can call this complaining and grumbling whatever we want, but God calls it sin.
Notice in the passage in Numbers, God did not take the snakes away rather He gave them a way through the snakes. Sin will never be eradicated this side of heaven. Jesus is our only way “through” the “snakes.” We are all born stricken with this sin nature– bitten by the venomous snake of Satan–and in desperate need of a Savior. And just as God in His mercy had Moses craft a snake on a pole to save many who had sinned, He also, in His mercy, sent His Son down from heaven to save all who would believe. Jesus came to reveal God to man and to take away our sin!
Take It to Heart
Jesus, being without sin, took upon Himself all the sins of the world–past, present and future–so that in turn His righteousness could be given to those who would trust in Him by faith.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.