“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 people of Israel were wandering in the desert. The desert is an awful place, and there is not much in it. There is not much water and food.
There are a lot of things in the desert. There are a lot of prickly plants. There are a lot of snakes and scorpions. There are also a lot of vultures to remind you of what will happen if you don’t get out. The weather is not pleasing. It is hot in the daytime, and really cold at night.
The Israelites had been in the desert and there was no hope. Some began to complain. The Bible says, “They became impatient on the way.” They said, “Moses, why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no food and no water, and we hate this miserable food. We roast in the day and freeze at night.”
The people complained and God allowed poisonous serpents to bite them. Some of them came to Moses and asked him to pray to God that this curse would end. It took a while, but they finally turned to God.
God planned to save Israelites not to destroy them. God was leading them out of slavery. God heard their cries of pain and it hurt. God felt the fierce serpents as they did. God saw they were turning back to the Lord.
God said to Moses, “Make a bronze serpent. It will remind people of their disobedience, but it will also be the means of their salvation. Nail the bronze snake to a pole. Lift it high so that it can be seen from every part of the camp. When anyone is bitten by a serpent they need to look up at the bronze serpent and they will be healed.”
Moses did as God directed and the people were saved. But there were a few stubborn people. This is how human nature is. Some refused to follow God’s directions. There were some who would not look up to God because they are stubborn. And they perished.
The people of God have always been in a wilderness. I’m not talking about the land in Israel and the Holy Land. I am talking about the spiritual surroundings in which the people of God live. This world is an awful place to wander spiritually. Often times it is hard to find spiritual food.
The world knows nothing of the bread of life. In this desert the nights are dark and as cold as a dead heart, and the days are as hot as the fires of hell. And there are many sins waiting to sting and bite.
Many people are perished in a wilderness of sin. They are bit by various desires. Some lost in the darkness and cold of night. Some burn under the heat of the day.
Look at the world around you! People are possessed by sins of greed and lust. Many are possessed by desire for drugs. People ignore those in need around them. They fall and lost in the desires of the flesh.
But God is not blind to what is happening. God sees and cares. God sees the perishing. God hears and feels the cries of pain of their suffering.
So, God loves the world. God decided to offer salvation for people. But this situation is bigger. The problem is bigger. It was not just a group of pilgrims in the wilderness. It is an entire world of people lost in sin.
The cause of suffering is not just a few hundred snakes. It is all the demons and serpents of hell. Sin and death are killing people. The solution is a global one not just a local one. It is to heal the world of the effects of sin. It is to cure death itself and ensure eternal life.
God took the sins of the world poured them out of an old dusty flask. God mixed them with the tears of a mother and a father. Then God called his son and poured the sins of the world on him. If that were not enough, God took his son and nailed him to a pole.
God lifted him up high for all to see and said, “Look at what I have done for you. Look at the sins of the world poured on the only righteous person ever live. Look upon your sin and be saved. Jesus death is for all.”
There were some stubborn people refused to look up. They would rather look down and perish. They loved the darkness, not the light. And they perished.
Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so must the Son of Man be lifted up, for God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God sent his son to die so the world might be saved. So, those who look up to Jesus for salvation will be saved. Shalom and Amen!
Scriptures: Numbers 21:4-9, John 3:14-21