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#4 Moses and the Statue of the Serpent

Updated on March 4, 2018
Steven Harris MBA profile image

With more than a decade of ministry experience, Steven has earned both his Bachelor's in Theological Studies and Master's of Business Admin

...And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up (John 3:14 ESV).

While the Israelites were in the desert transitioning to the Promised Land, there was a time of rebellion and when the Lord became angered, He sent poisonous snakes to enter the camps (Numbers 21:6). This caused many to die quite rapidly and the outcry was eventually heard by Moses. He made intercessions for the people and their sins, and the Lord told him to make a statue of a fiery serpent that whoever has been bitten by a snake, and looks upon the statue would live (Numbers 21:8).

When looking at this passage from scripture, it is not difficult to imagine a large number of people coming forward to Moses, and they would have been fighting to stay alive while poison was rushing through their veins. Some would have suffered from dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, weakness, blackout, and other severe symptoms while clinging to whatever life is left in them. Imagine the relief they would have felt when the statue was available, and they went from near death to life restored. It would have been humbling for any human being to go through that.

Around 1500 years later, Jesus was walking with a Pharisee named Nicodemus and He made the statement, “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” Those who call upon the name of Jesus are to look upon Jesus as the Israelite's did the snake in the wilderness. It is here we can be free from the poisonous venom of sin and shame that sucks life and joy from our lives. Freedom from the oppression of sin is only a moment away!

Where has the poison of life and the lies of the enemy made you feel overwhelmed? What venom is Jesus calling you to look upon His face to remove from your soul this day?

Today's Prayer

Father God, please help me to look upon the face of Jesus this day that I be healed of the poison and the effects of (name the sin and oppression) in my life in Jesus name, Amen.

Artist rendition of the statue Moses made of the serpent

Chapter 3 of the book of John is one of the most famous, if not the most famous chapter in the entire Bible. In this discussion with the secret more liberal member of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus proceeded to have a seemingly candid conversation with Jesus. Nicodemus was taking the time to investigate and seek answers from this new famed rabbi by doing what we call in modern times, “picking his brain.” When reading the text closely, it would appear that Jesus and Nicodemus were having two different conversations. Nicodemus was asking questions from one perspective of thinking, and it seemed Jesus is was paying no mind to him, not even hearing what he had to say. Rather, Jesus told him what he needed to hear.

In chapter 3 verse two, it seems the point of Nicodemus’s meeting with Jesus was to affirm he did believed Jesus is from God because simply, no one could do the miracles Jesus is doing if they were not from God. Nicodemus is undoubtedly most curious to find out why and how Jesus obtained these supernatural abilities. As the dialogue continues Jesus begins talking about being born again, and how to enter the kingdom of God. These seem to be out of the scope of what Nicodemus was looking to hear as he begins asking Jesus many questions in reply to Jesus' dialog.

The conversations continues to progress to what is without question the most famous verse in all of Scripture, John 3:16, which needed to be shared with Nicodemus. But before Jesus went on to proclaimed His famous words “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus declared “and as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)” Similar to the people of Israel believing if they looked upon the statue of the serpent, they would be healed from death caused by the poison of a snake. Jesus proclaims that those who look upon Him for salvation would receive everlasting life.

"Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him"

John 3:2

— Nicodemus

When we look at Numbers chapter 21, we see the people of Israel were growing very discouraged and impatient with God. This led to the progression of negative thoughts and murmuring that provoked them to even go out of their way to speak against God and Moses. Also cursing the supernatural provision from God of food called manna (v.5). This led to God removing His protection for them from the wildlife in the area, and allowing them to see what life is like without His gift of protection. This humbling experience led to the creation of the bronze serpent which when looked upon, brought salvation from physical death caused by the venom of a snake.

Miracles in the Gospel of John

Water turned to wine
Healing the nobleman's son
Healing the crippled man at Bethesda
Feeding the 5,000
Walking on the Sea
Healing the blind man
Raising Lazarus from death

© 2018 Steven Michael Harris


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