“Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” Numbers 21:8 (NIV)
What if you were taking your last fleeting breath? As of June 2020, there are over 7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 400,000 deaths worldwide. Certainly, a heart-wrenching statistic during these unprecedented times. If an effective treatment was known for this pandemic, many lives would have been spared, and possibly avoid a global lockdown, and an unstable economy. Whether the ailment is an infection, cancer, heart disease, or even fever, if there is a treatment option available, an ill person is sure to reach for the cure.
Not a pandemic, but with a high mortality rate, Israelites suffered while journeying to the promised land. Growing impatient, God’s chosen people, started to grumble, blaspheming God and condemning Moses for bringing them out of Egypt to starve. It’s difficult not to wonder, had they not learned their lesson? How could they forget the Red Sea dividing, manna supplying, all-powerful Yahweh? The wrath of God now delivered the deserving punishment. God sent fiery serpents among the people, to bite their heel and inflict death. Can you imagine these venomous snakes slithering into their tents? Not just one or two, but thousands! Charles Spurgeon quotes, “we are told by the old writers that these serpents when they bit caused vehement heat, so that there was a pain throughout the body, as if a hot iron had been sent along the veins. Those who had been bitten had a great thirst; they drank incessantly, and still cried for water to quench the burnings within. It was a hot fire which was lit in the fountain, and which ran through every nerve and every sinew of the man; they were racked in pain, and died in most fearful convulsions.”
Now, during this agonizing time, the Israelites remembered God and confessed their sins. God then 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 obeyed as God commanded. All that a bitten Israelite had to do was look up to the bronze serpent on the pole and the convulsions, bleeding, fever, and nerve pain would subside and the person would be miraculously healed. This deliverance was provided by God for the tormented generation.
Death is certain for all of us but so is victory and life, if only we look up to the cross
Interestingly, when Jesus was speaking to a Jewish teacher named Nicodemus who was seeking salvation, He said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” The most awful sting one can face isn’t that of a serpent or the corona virus, but it is the wages of sin. The ultimate effect of sin is that it separates man from God. Sin is an eternal death sentence for all unbelievers. Such is the condition of man as we all have been struck on our heels by the Serpent of old.
But Praise be to God, for even though our heels were struck, Jesus Christ has crushed the head of the Beast, the Ruler of the Darkness. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor 15:55, 57). As Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness on a pole, so was Jesus lifted up on the cross of Calvary to redeem us and heal us. We are saved by looking to Him in faith. Death is certain for all of us but so is victory and life, if only we look up to the cross and seek and believe in the Son of God who came down into this world to offer us eternal life. Lift up your eyes to the hill from where comes your help. Your help comes from Jesus of Nazareth, who made the heavens and the earth.
George John resides in Hawthorne, New Jersey with his wife Eirene and four children. He is in active fellowship with the believers in Elmwood Park Bible Chapel, New Jersey and serves as the Sunday School Principal. George is also a pharmacist by trade.
(Image is taken from http://bryansmessianicmusings.blogspot.com/?m=1)