October 14, 2018

A Bronze Snake on a Pole

Numbers 21:4-9

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.

—  John 3:14-15

A snake on a pole may seem a strange image to represent healing and blessing from God. But in the context of the story in Numbers 21, that’s what happened. God made it so. And the people learned, as they ­often had done before, that they needed to trust in God.

We might not be surprised that the people grumbled against God and Moses in the desert. All around them was a trackless, howling wilderness, with searing heat and blinding sandstorms. Ahead of them were powerful enemies, barricaded in high, walled cities.

But God had solved all of their crises before: bringing them through the Red Sea, giving them manna (bread), quail (meat), and water each day. With such a firm foundation for faith, was there any reason for the people not to trust God with their future?

The same question can apply today for God’s people who might grumble against him. And we have a lot more of God’s faithfulness in history to remind us of his care. We also have the good news of salvation through Jesus, who was lifted up on a cross for our sake. He took on himself all the punishment for sin and rebellion that was rightly ours to bear. Jesus even explained that the snake on a pole in Moses’ day pointed to his saving work on the cross. So everyone who looks to him and believes may now have eternal life.

Do you trust him?

Lord, turn our eyes upon Jesus, give us faith to trust him, and save us. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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