Numbers / Bemidbar 19:1 - 22:1
For the week of July 4, 1998
10 Tammuz 5758
The LORD 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 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 (Numbers / Bemidbar 21:8,9).
This week's portion contains a story that remarkably foreshadows the coming of the Messiah and the salvation that we can discover through him.
The people had criticized God and Moses again. As a result God sent against them poisonous snakes. When the people confessed their sin and asked Moses to pray to God that he would remove the snakes, God prescribed an unusual solution: He told Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Anyone bitten by a snake who then looked at the bronze snake on the pole would live and not die.
God could have, of course, made the snakes go away and heal the people who had been bitten. But instead he chose this method. Why he did it this way is not as important as the fact that this is what he did. It wasn't understanding what God was doing that saved the people; it was just trusting him that made the difference.
To trust God in this way is not a mindless activity. It would be if the person doing it didn't really know God. But when you know him, you can trust what he is doing, even when his instructions seem strange.
Some may find this method offensive. After all it was the snakes that were killing the people. Also it was a snake that tempted Eve in the Garden. Snakes don't usually represent healing and life.
Many have a similar difficulty with Yeshua. Yeshua likened what he going to do to this very story. Yeshua said,
Yeshua took upon himself the curse instigated by the snake in the Garden. Having tempting Eve to disobey God, death came upon the human race. Yeshua took upon himself our sin and died in our place on a cross. If we look to him, we find salvation.
The Israelites experienced a temporal healing. Yeshua provides eternal salvation. No matter however offensive his death on the cross may seem to us, it is still God's chosen method for our salvation. Let us look to him and live.