Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Serpents and Savior

I am currently doing a study in the Book of John.  In my study this week, I had to read the very familiar John 3:16.  I noticed in the margin of my page that I had written Numbers 21.  As I tend to forget what my notes actually mean, I turned to the Old Testament out of curiosity.

In the 21st chapter of Numbers, Moses is leading Israel out of Egypt.  In the previous chapter, Aaron has died so this means that Moses has been leading Israel on this journey for some time now.  God has already provided Israel with manna bread (bread from heaven, described in Numbers 11:7) to eat at this point and the people of Israel continue to complain about their circumstances as they are being led to The Promise Land.  Let's also keep in mind that they have a pillar of cloud leading them by day and a pillar of fire leading them by night (Exodus 13:21) to show them that He is always with them.  Just sayin'.  

There is a lot that happens through Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers where God shows His gracious provision* over Israel and His righteous wrath.  But for our sake let's just stick to Numbers 21- specifically 21:5-6 which says: And the people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread". 

Wow, that's some nerve, right?  God provides them with this sweet bread from Heaven and they call it worthless.  As a result of their selfishness, God sends down serpents which bite the people and many of Israel died.  Israel, thankfully, realize that they have sinned against God and ask for forgiveness.  So, the Lord tells Moses to make a bronze serpent to set on a pole and whoever is bit just has to look at the serpent in the eye and will not die.   Do you think there were any people among Israel who refused to look at the bronze serpent to be healed?  Who maybe thought it was a dumb idea and refused to do it out of pride?  Do you think anyone tried to search medicinally/scientifically instead of just obeying God's simple command and ended up dying because of it?  
We can clearly see that God always provided for Israel because He loved them so much.  If they had repentant hearts, He was quick to forgive and provide a way out, an escape, a savior of sorts.  

Let's now look at how this ties with John 3:14-15.  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. 

God provided a bronze serpent attached to a pole as a way for Israel to trust in their God.  It was a simple way for the people to put their trust in Him that He would save them from death. But, that wasn't enough for God.  He wanted to provide a Savior for everyone, whether it's from a snake bite or the tragedies of this awful, decrepit world.  The only way He could do that (note the word "must" in the scripture above) is by bringing down His Son as the ultimate sacrifice to die as an innocent lamb who is led to the slaughter, covering our sin with His blood, so that we might live.  (John 3:16)  Not only live, but live eternally with Him.  God has already provided the "serpent", we just need to come to Him with a repentant heart and put our trust in Him.  It's that simple.  

Isn't it awesome that God's provisions are so simple?  So, why do we hold back?  Why do we not lay it all down before Him?  

I urge you to search your heart, find out what is holding you back.  Is it pride?  Fear?  Anger?  Hurt? If this post stirs something in you, please don't push it away.  There is a void in us all, something we feel is missing, that can only be filled by God's love.  We are all a result of sin and in need of a savior.  He's there waiting for you.  Just look Him in the eyes with a repentant heart and you will spend eternity with Him.  He simply provides.  God will always provide for those who love Him. 

*Definition of provision: noun
a clause in a legal instrument, a law, etc., providing for particular matter; stipulation; proviso.
the providing or supplying of something, especially of food or other necessities.
arrangement or preparation beforehand, as for the doing of something, the meeting of needs, the supplying of means,etc.


  1. So encouraging, Brooke. It's so simple but something inside us always seems to want to try to get it figured out on our own first instead of doing what we should do and fall on our faces before the only One who can truly save, provide, comfort, etc. Thanks for writing this.

  2. Really great post! I can't say enough how encouraging it is to have a wife who is thinking and posting things like this. Praise God for giving me you!

    I think I'll use this section of Numbers when I talk about the beautiful simplicity of God next Wednesday. : )

  3. This is so true. It's so simple, and yet I feel that I need to hear this every day. It's so awesome that God didn't stop at just His people the Israelites with salvation but gave it to everyone who will simply believe on Jesus.

    Thanks for posting this!!
    (this is rachel)