The Serpent and the Cross: A Story of Redemption in Numbers 21

The book of Numbers tells a fascinating story in chapter 21 about a time when the Israelites, on their journey to the Promised Land, became frustrated and grumbled against God. As punishment, God sent venomous serpents among them, which bit many people and caused death.

Seeing their suffering, the people repented and pleaded for forgiveness. Here’s where the symbolism gets interesting:

The Bronze Serpent: A Sign of Hope (Numbers 21:8-9)

God instructed Moses to create a bronze serpent and mount it on a pole. He declared, “Anyone who is bitten and looks at it will live.” (Numbers 21:8) This might seem strange at first – how could looking at a metal serpent heal someone from a snakebite?

The bronze serpent wasn’t meant to be a magical charm. It was a symbol of hope and faith. By looking to the serpent on the pole, the Israelites were acknowledging their wrongdoing and turning their trust back to God. Their faith in his mercy and forgiveness brought them healing.

Looking Ahead to the Cross (John 3:14-15)

Centuries later, Jesus spoke about this event in the book of John. He compared the bronze serpent lifted on the pole to himself, who would be “lifted up” on the cross (John 3:14). Just as the Israelites looked to the bronze serpent for healing, so too could people look to Jesus on the cross for salvation from sin.

What Does This Symbolism Mean for Us Today?

The story of the bronze serpent reminds us of several important things:

  • God’s Forgiveness: Even when we make mistakes, God is willing to forgive us if we repent and turn back to him.
  • Faith Brings Healing: Our faith in God’s love and mercy can bring healing to our lives, both physically and spiritually.
  • Jesus as Our Savior: Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross offers us forgiveness for our sins and the promise of eternal life.

The image of the serpent and the cross may seem like a puzzling story at first glance. But when we understand the deeper meaning, it becomes a powerful reminder of God’s love, forgiveness, and the hope we find in Jesus Christ.pen_sparktunesharemore_vert