For the week of July 9, 2005 / 2 Tammuz 5765
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 19:1 - 22:1
Haftarah: Shoftim / Judges 11:1-33
Revised version of
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." (Bemidbar / Numbers 21:8)
This week's portion contains a story that remarkably foreshadows the coming of the Messiah and the salvation that can be ours through him.
The people of Israel had criticized God and Moses yet again. As a result, God sent poisonous snakes among them. 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 apart from this method, but this was his chosen method. Why he did it this way is not as important as the fact that this is what he did.
Some may find this method offensive. Snakes don't represent healing and life in the Scriptures. It was a snake that tempted Eve in the Garden, and in this story it was snakes that were killing the people. Yet how tragic it would have been for those who were offended, if they would have not looked to the bronze snake and be healed.
Many years later Yeshua used this story to illustrate what he would do for us. He said,
In the garden of Eden our first parents were figuratively bitten by a snake. Having succumbed to his temptation, the poison of evil has flowed in the veins of every human being since, and has been the cause of suffering and death.
Yeshua took upon himself the consequences of what the snake did in the Garden by dieing in our place on a Roman cross. If we look to him, meaning put our trust in what he did, we, just like the people of Israel who looked to the bronze snake, can experience healing – a greater healing - eternal salvation.
The concept of the Messiah dieing on a cross is very offensive to some people. Yet the incident of the bronze serpent shows us that God does indeed use offensive methods at times.
No matter how offensive
his death on the cross may seem to us, it is still God's chosen method
for our salvation. Therefore let us look to him and live.
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