Monday, March 7, 2011

Jesus Is the Bronze Snake (Num. 21)

SEAN - Surrounded by snakes and about to die, Israel was given a chance to be saved: look at the bronze snake and live, or perish. For us, Jesus is the snake. God sent His Son that we might believe in Him, and not perish but have eternal life. That's the John 3.16 Gospel right there.

Based on's Chronological Bible In a Year schedule. If anyone would like to join in, this blog's comments sections would be a good forum in which to share insights from the text.

First Comes Guilt: Our God Is A Consuming Fire

A lot of non-Christians don't like it, and a lot of Christians are too scared to offend by admitting it, but God hates those who sin (Psalms 5.5) and lots of people are really going to Hell (Matthew 25.41). Not only did Israel deserve to get slaughtered by a crap-load of snakes in Numbers 21.5-7, but you and I deserve to go to Hell. I mean it. We slap God in the face every day when we turn our backs on Him, and there is nothing saying that He has to be kind about it.

Then Comes the Fire: Snake Bites, Darkness, and Torment
The Israeli tribes were attacked by poisonous snakes in today's reading (Numbers 21.5-9), which were sent by God to punish His people for speaking against Him. But that was just a death sentence. After death, in Hell, the punishments are much worse. Some of the pictures are there in the Bible to give us an idea: it is like burning alive forever (Matthew 25.41), being trapped in darkness (Matthew 8.12) and fed on by maggots (Isaiah 6.24), so that you want to commit suicide but you can't because you're already dead (Revelation 9.6). It has been written, it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10.31). While some Christians say that Hell is a place where God isn't present, the Bible says the damned will be 'tortured in the presence of The Lamb [Jesus], and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever' (Revelation 14.9-11). This isn't a Saw-like fascination with torture here; I'm trying really hard to make sure that you -whether you're a stubborn unbeliever or a cowardly Christian- know what's at stake here. This isn't so much the strong approach as it is the honest approach.

Then Comes Grace: Jesus Is the Bronze Snake
Numbers 21 does not end with people being slaughtered by snakes, and our story doesn't have to end with us going to Hell. In Numbers 21.8-9 God made a way out: Moses made a bronze snake and had it lifted up, and anyone could live if they just looked at it. For those of us who are in danger of going to Hell, or those of you who are Christians and need a reminder of how your friends can be saved, God did this: he sent His Son [Jesus] so that anyone who believes in Him might not perish [got to Hell] but have eternal life [go to Heaven] (John 3.16). The way out is just as easy as it was in the Old Testament - for Israel it was 'look at this snake and believe,' and for us it is 'look to Jesus and believe.' You would be crazy not to take that offer.

Other comments and observations can be found in the comments section! Join in.


  1. A lot of this should go without saying, but it's crazy how many mainstream Christian figures have said that there is no eternal Hell: C.S. Lewis, John Stott, Rob Bell, Mother Teresa, Brian McLaren, just to name a few. This passage from Numbers seemed like a good text to jump into this issue with.

  2. THE GOSPEL: "Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God." -2 Cor. 5:21


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