“And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.” Numbers 21:9
Right after God delivered Canaanite cities to the Israelites, the Israelites complained against Moses and God.
“Why have you brought us up from the land of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” Numbers 21:5
First, they said there was no food; then they said they hated the food. The manna that God rained down from heaven each morning, six days a week, was like coriander and honey wafers.
Everywhere they went, God provided manna and water for them, and one time, He provided quail.
I like variety, too. I think I might complain if I had only bread and water to look forward to day after day, even if the bread was sweet. But …
The manna pointed to the Messiah.
“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” John 6:48-51
Because of the Israelites’ complaining, God sent fiery serpents to bite and kill them. Once the Israelites started dying, they recognized that their complaints were sins and confessed to Moses, requesting that God remove the serpents.
Moses made a bronze serpent and attached it to a pole and told the Israelites to look upon the bronze serpent and they would live. They had a choice – they could ignore the serpent and die, or they could look upon it and live.
In the Bible, bronze represents judgment. The serpents represent sin. Moses constructed a structure that represented their sin judged, and it brought healing, life, to their bodies and saved them from the wrath of God.
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:14-16
The serpent on the pole pointed to Jesus on the cross.
Jesus, who knew no sin, took our sins upon Him. Everyone who looks upon Jesus and believes that He is Lord will be saved from the wrath of God and enter into eternal life.
“and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
The cross also points to Jesus our Healer.
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Even though I had read these verses many times, I did not equate the cross with healing, only salvation.
I grew up in a Midwestern Methodist church where I learned that the gifts of the Spirit and miracles were for the early church but not for today. Yes, God is able to work miracles and does on occasion, but for the most part, I was taught that He chooses not to provide miraculous healings.
The Bible says that God does not change, that He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
I read through the Gospels and Acts and wondered why there were so many miracles and healings if miraculous healing is not something for today.
As I unlearned what I had been taught, I discovered a more compassionate Jesus. This Jesus came to die on the cross to pay the price for my sins, but on His journey to the cross, He stopped to teach, to heal, to raise the dead, and to eat with sinners.
I could retell the miracles of Jesus, but before I decided to remove the boundaries I had placed on my understanding of my Savior, these stories were only head knowledge.
It took over a decade of fibromyalgia to meet Jesus as my Healer. The head knowledge that Jesus is present with me today, became spirit wisdom, and I absolutely know that He is with me and is my sustainer today. What freedom there is when we remove the boundaries we have set for our God! He is so much bigger.
My prayer for you
Gracious Father, You abound in patience and mercy. Our Savior and Healer, thank You for increasing our understanding of You. Please show us when we limit You and draw us to an understanding of Your fullness of grace, mercy, and love. Thank You for loving us and dying on the cross for us.
How are you limiting God?