< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Snake on a stick

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Snake on a stick

I love the "ah-ha" moments in the Bible when something in the New Testament really explains something in the Old Testament. There is a story in Numbers 21:4-9 about how the Israelites were grumbling about God and Moses. God sent deadly snakes among the people of Israel because of their sin. The people asked Moses to pray to God for relief and God told Moses to make an image of a poisonous serpent out of bronze and set it high on a pole so that "everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live."

In the book of John 3:14-15 Jesus uses this story to prepare Nicodemus for the revelation He was about to give Him concerning His redemptive work on a cross. He said, "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 Israelites would never have thought of the bronze snake as their salvation from the biting serpents. Looking at the very thing that was killing them to save them.

What the Israelites were told to do in the desert we are told to do with the cross. Sin is the serpents biting us. Jesus became sin on a cross. He told Nicodemus that He would be so identified with sin, death and punishment that He would be lifted up like a snake."

2 Corinthians 5:21 says "For our sakes He made Him who knew no sin - sin, that in Him we might become the rightousness of God."

Like the Israelites with the snake, it's something we would never have thought of ourselves.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18 Paul wrote, "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved it is the power of God." God deliberately chose something people see as folly so we can know salvation is God's doing. Not ours! He has created a way for us to live with Him for eternity. Believe it.

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At 6:23 PM, Blogger Julie said...

I love it! Another blog entry just for me. I have joined an Orthodox friend in reading the Early Church Fathers during Lent. We completed reading Justin Martyr recently. He alluded to this story in his First Apology only he said that the Jews had lifted up a cross. I just got done writing how this is one of the Bible stories that baffle me. And... you write the story, publish it in the Christian Carnival so it is easy to find and even create a catchy title...

Thank you for sharing your insight!

At 6:37 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

Thank you for the feedback, Julie.
I too love when light bulbs go off!


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