The Serpents in the Wilderness

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Many of us know this scripture, but how many know the two preceding scriptures to this verse?

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

So let's explore the reference that was made to Moses a little. You can find it in Numbers 21.

Numbers 21:4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

It starts with the people of Israel being discouraged. This discouragement caused the people to speak against God. It was what was already in their heart. Because of this God sent the fiery serpents and many of the people died as we see in verse 6. For the wages of sin is death. The people requested that the serpents be taken away, but God did not grant their request. In other words the Israelites wanted their circumstances removed. God however created the circumstance to show them a better way. It was their circumstance that would lead them to Jesus. Rather He instructed Moses to make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who was bitten, when he looketh or beheld the serpent on the pole, they would live. So it wasn't enough for the people to know that the serpent on the pole existed, they received their healing only when they beheld the serpent on the pole.

As believers we all know the crucifixion story, how he went before Pilot, was beaten and nailed upon the cross. What about the Roman soldier who stood back and beat his chest saying surely this must be the son of God. Roman soldiers were war hardened and used to seeing horrible sights. So what made this soldier react this way? Well we have to understand that Jesus was made to be sin, and when the sins of the world were laid upon Him it had an effect on His body.

Isaiah 52:13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. Isaiah 53 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

In Isaiah 53:10 Notice it says "he shall see his seed" God looked down and saw my sin, your sin being laid upon Jesus. I want you to look upon Jesus and see that your sin was laid upon him and know with full assurance God has been satisfied with Jesus' suffering under the penalty both you and I deserve! Truly your sins have been forgiven and the penalty paid so that you might receive eternal life through the grace that comes by faith in Jesus.

Psalm 88 O lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:2 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.4 I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength:5 Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.7 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.8 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.

9 Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: Lord, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.10 Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.11 Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?12 Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?13 But unto thee have I cried, O Lord; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.14 Lord, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?15 I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.16 Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.

17 They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.18 Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.

Now seeing the precious gift of LOVE that Jesus gives open your heart and ask Jesus to grant you eternal life and the freedom that comes through grace by faith in Christ. Know that with full assurance you have been forgiven and that God remembers your sin no more. Be not discouraged by circumstances and situations. Rather behold Jesus. Know that He loves you and that all things work for the good of those who are in Christ Jesus. For you have not received the spirit of fear again to bondage, but of power, love and a sound mind!!!



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