Numbers 21:4-9, vs. “8 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.”
Simple instructions to the Israelites, if bit, look to the bronze serpent on the pole and you will live. It does not make sense but that is the simple instruction, faith in the basics. They didn’t have to do anything, only look and you will live. Killed by serpents or delivered by a serpent both from God.
What puzzles me is why God would use a bronze serpent when in the bible often times the serpent is in reference to evil. Remember in the garden Satan in the form of a serpent was cursed. We can easily tell that the killing serpents are in reference to our sins. There is nothing good in us, in fact the bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and DESPERATELY WICKED”, Jeremiah 17:9. Which would mean, we are destroyed by cursed evil poisonous venom already sipping through our system chocking out whatever life left. The bible continues to say, “…a soul that sins shall die”, Ezekiel 18:20. Is this not clear that we die slowly having been bitten by the serpent sin and the only way to live is to look at another serpent lifted up on a pole? We can understand the serpent that kills, the dilemma we have is the serpent hanged on the pole. Would we say God is associating Himself to a serpent? Of course we know the serpent on the pole is a symbol of deliverance but why a serpent lifted up on a pole?
Jesus comes later in the NT and refers back to the serpent Moses made and raised up on the pole. John 3:14-15, “vs. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”. Now the symbol of the serpent on the tree is becoming clear, the Israelites needed the serpent of bronze on the pole to live, we needed Jesus being lifted up on the cross and dying for us to be saved but how can a serpent have similarity to Jesus? “The serpent signified Christ, who was in the likeness of sinful flesh, though without sin, as this brazen serpent had the outward shape, but not the inward poison, of the other serpents: the pole resembled the cross upon which Christ was lifted up for our salvation: and looking up to it designed our believing in Christ”, John Wesley
The first serpent talks of evil, the made serpent talks of judgment and it hanging on the pole symbolizes Jesus hanging on the cross as the One who bore all our sins. 2Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin TO BE SIN FOR US, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”. Not that He became a sinner as some teach, NO, God treated Him as though He had sinned. He identified with us, and on the cross He became sin for us without sinning that we would be saved. The reason the Father could not look at Him directly was because of our sin on him identifying with us. While on earth, Jesus always referred to God as His Father, I don’t recall reading that He ever referred to Him as “My God” until when He was crucified that you hear it, Matthew 27:46, “…Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”. This shows us a picture of how sin separated us completely from God, it took away His presence for us. For our sin to diminish and live, Jesus in the image of a man had to be lifted up on the cross (pole). In John 12:32, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
Numbers 21:9 “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”. We have all been bitten by the fiery serpent of sin (our nature of sin) and some of us have already looked to the serpent on the pole (Jesus who knew no sin made to be sin for us) and we have been saved by repenting of our sins and putting our trust in Jesus alone for our eternal salvation, what about you who has not done that? What are you waiting for? Tomorrow is promised to no one, today is the day of salvation. If you died in your sins, God will be forced to give you judgment unless Jesus on the cross bore your sins. Under the killing serpent you have no hope, under delivering serpent, there is hope for eternity for Christ is the delivering Savior. Christ in you, the hope of glory. Blessings Ev