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” (Numbers 21:8)
The Israelites were on their way to the Promised Land – and grumbling began. The evangelist John Wesley once spoke of grumblers as ‘tearing the flesh from my bones.’ In Numbers 21 the grumbling coincided with the onset of venomous snakes – and it was a judgment. Moses prays for mercy, and the divine cure is given. If it was serpents that caused the problem, then let the antidote be…. a serpent. Perhaps it was something of the principle that ‘like cures like.’
The connection would also have been made in people’s minds that in the beginning it was the Serpent, Satan, that brought the DEATH PRINCIPLE into our human story. But then here is also the FAITH PRINCIPLE. ‘Fasten your gaze upon God’s remedy – and you will live!’ Third, there is the SALVATION PRINCIPLE. ‘Look and be saved.’
Certainly the bronze snake was only an emblem. In the case of the skin-disease of Naaman (2 Kings 5) he had only to wash in the Jordan to be delivered. ‘Go and wash!’ Here it is ‘Look – and live!’
The reality beyond these Old Testament shadowings of God’s saving power for the human race is found in the dying love of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. As He himself declared, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:14,15). So ‘believing’ is equivalent to ‘looking.’
And ‘whoever’ must surely include you….