Saturday, February 20, 2016
The Right Direction
One of my favorite Old Testament stories is found in the 21st chapter of Numbers. It is the story of the bronze serpent being raised in the wilderness. As the story begins we see the Hebrew people whining and complaining. They complained to Moses about bringing them out of Egypt. They fussed at God about the food He was providing. "...we detest this miserable food," they said. (Numbers 21:5) The miserable detestable food was the manna from heaven. God was not happy and soon the veil of protection was lifted so that the camp was invaded by poisonous snakes. When they cried out to Moses to intercede to God for them, God responded by telling Moses to make a bronze serpent on a pole and set it in the camp. When a person was bitten all it took for them to live was to look at the bronze serpent.
John, the gospel writer, remembered this part of his heritage and spoke of it as he wrote about Jesus. "...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." (John 3:15) The Scripture really is amazing. It makes you wonder if God had the cross in mind even as He provided a temporal prototype in the camp of those whining Hebrews. Certainly, John thought of the similarities. No one had to look at either. A stubborn snake bitten Hebrew could choose not to look and die. And, so we can we with the cross.
One man's death has provided life for all of us. But, of course, this one man was not just any man, but the very Son of God who "did not count equality with God as something to be exploited...He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death--even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:7-8) Like those ancient Hebrews, God provides our deliverance and then gives us the freedom to look toward it, or away from it. Be sure to look in the right direction. It matters.