Serpent vs. Serpent

While reading my chronological Bible, I found a strange story that made me sit up, ponder and wonder. It’s found in Numbers 21:4-9.

The people of Israel complained again (for the umpteenth time) and God again (!) punished them.  Even after being severely punished over and over by God for past disobedience, they never learned their lesson.

This time, the Lord sent fiery serpents that bit people to their death.  

And as he did many times before, Moses begged the Lord to spare the people. God, in his infinite patience, again relented. He provided a very specific, odd remedy to save them.

God instructed Moses to make a fake fiery serpent made of bronze and set it on a pole. He said that anyone who looked at it will live.

Moses did just that.

Now, why would God use a serpent to save the people from the serpent? Why would He tell Moses to make an image of the very thing that was killing his people?

This must have been the same questions asked by some of the stubborn Israelites who simply refused to look—and died. 

But those who looked upon the bronze serpent with the eyes of faith lived, even as the serpent’s venom was already draining life from their bodies.

Many years later, however, the reigning king, Hezekiah, destroyed the bronze serpent after consultation with God. Why?

Over time, it morphed into an object of idolatrous worship—it had become a god. People burned incense before it and worshiped it, instead of God.  What was meant to be good was turned into evil.

That is the story of our lives.

In the beginning, Adam and Eve were given a paradise. But they believed a serpent more than God. Again and again, despite umpteenth chances, man keeps falling into evil ways.

That’s why over two thousand years ago, God gave sinful men the ultimate Grace on a cross: His only Son became sin so that through Him we will have a chance to be in paradise with God. 

Those who gaze upon that cross with the eyes of faith will be healed from the scourge of sin and live with Jesus forever.    

"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”  Ephesians 2:8 (NLT)

Photo: Moses and the Brazen Serpent, 1898, Augustus John (1878–1961), Oil on canvas

1 comment:

Yay Padua-Olmedo said...

This story makes us realize how man can turn to idols in a minute, then go back to God the next, then to idols again. We're really stubborn mules. Grace lang talaga that we are not consumed.