Many years ago the Children of Israel were traveling from Egypt to Canaan. They had become a nation of about a million people. God led them out of Egypt in a miraculous way, with Moses as their leader. By night He gave them light from a pillar of fire, and by day He shaded them from the heat with a cloud.
Soon after they were on their way, their enemies, the Egyptians, followed and overtook them at the Red Sea. God commanded Moses to stretch out his hand and rod over the sea, and its waters parted for the Israelites to walk through. They walked through on dry ground. When the Egyptians followed, the Lord caused confusion among them. Then the waters came together again, and the Egyptian army drowned in the sea. When the Children of Israel saw that they were rescued from their pursuing enemy, they sang a victor’s song.
As they traveled on, they met with other trials and temptations, such as lack of water and food. But the Lord heard their cries and gave them water out of a rock, food (manna) from heaven, and meat in the form of quail.
Many of these Israelites fell into temptation and sinned. But the Lord was kind and longsuffering toward them. Again and again He tried to impress upon them the need of having faith in Him. They needed to follow His teachings as given to Moses.
One time after the Israelites had spoken against God and against Moses, the Lord sent “fiery serpents” (poisonous snakes) into their camp as a punishment (Numbers 21:6). They bit the people. There was much weeping and crying among them, for it was a painful, deadly bite. “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” (Numbers 21:7).
The Lord told Moses to make a brazen serpent and set it upon a pole so that everyone could see it. God promised that whoever was bitten by the poisonous snakes and looked up (in faith) to the raised serpent should be healed. Those who looked were healed. What a wonderful and simple method of healing that was! Do you suppose there were any that were bitten who refused to look for healing?
We notice in Numbers 21:7 that the people first of all recognized their sin, were sorry for their disobedience, and were anxious to be healed. God does not save us (neither are we in a position to be saved) until we repent and turn away from our sins. Jesus preached, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). We are invited to look to the crucified One, the One who was “lifted up” that we might be healed (John 12:32).
Sin, like the bite of the poisonous snakes, is very deadly. There is only one cure for it-the cleansing by “the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:7). Our Heavenly Father has provided this way to heal all who have been bitten by Satan; that is, all who have sinned. Looking by faith to Jesus is our only hope. He was nailed to the cross and shed His blood for the remission of sins (Romans 3:24-25). Jesus Himself says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am your God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22).
Will you look?