Numbers 21:9: “So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”

January 31st, 2023 by Pastor Ed in devotional

This image is very descriptive and loaded with Messianic symbolism. There are 3 things about this picture that are important for us to clearly understand its meaning. First, the metal, bronze or brass, was associated with judgment throughout the Old Testament. Second, a serpent was the form Satan took in the garden to tempt Eve. And third, this bronze serpent was hung on a pole, publicly, outside, in open view of everyone.

It says that the people bitten had only to look up to the image on the pole and they would live. We see in this image one of the clearest pictures of Jesus in the book of Numbers. Both Jesus’ act of atonement, through the crucifixion, and the serpent on the pole were set in very conspicuous places. The serpent was in the center of camp, high on a pole, where perhaps 2 million people could see it. The cross of Jesus was placed near the gate at Jerusalem and at the center of our calendar. The vast majority of cultures in the world still date history by Jesus’ birth.

In chapter 20, God told Moses to speak to the rock and it would give water to the children of Israel, who were thirsty in the wilderness. Paul, in the New Testament, said of that time, “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). Now, one chapter later, the people were told to look to the figure on the pole. Both the rock and the sign of sin, in the form of the bronze serpent pinned to the pole, pointed to the sacrifice of the Messiah. What a beautifully symbolic picture this is. Speak to the rock and you will be refreshed, your thirst satisfied. Look to the figure on the pole and you will be healed, saved from the deadly bite of the serpent, of sin. Who says the Old Testament is hard to understand? It all points to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. It’s just that some parts are easier to see than others.

“Thank you, LORD, for Your word that points us to You again this day.”