OT19 | Eden to Exile

NT Connect: John 3:1-15

Weekly Reading: Numbers 12-14, 16, 21

Lifted Up and Looked Upon

This week in Numbers, we see the Israelites as a people who have so quickly forgotten the faithfulness of the Lord to rescue them from Pharaoh. Despite the warnings the Lord gave them through Moses (Numbers 11:1, 14:2), the Israelites continued to grow impatient in their waiting on the Lord and began to speak against him (Numbers 21:4). God’s judgment for this sin is seen in Numbers  21:6: “And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died” (NASB).

WOW. We see clearly how seriously the Lord takes our sin. How often I have been guilty of committing the same sin – quickly forgetting the Lord’s faithfulness in my life – only to be complaining about what I don’t have or how I don’t see him working in my current circumstances.

God’s punishment revealed their sin to the Israelites. They then went to Moses and confessed their sin (Numbers 21:7). We are able to see a clear picture of the Lord’s grace in his response to Israel’s recognition of their sin. It would have been just of the Lord to respond simply by telling Israel, “I gave you a chance; I warned you. You continued to disobey; this is the punishment.” However, he doesn’t respond in this way, and we see in verse 8 how he gave clear instructions to Moses on how he would provide a way to save his people, yet again. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that if everyone who is bitten when he looks at it, he shall live” (NASB).

The Lord asked his people not to fix their eyes on their surroundings, their struggles, or each other, but to look up at the bronze serpent that God had provided in order to save them. In the Gospel of John, Jesus references this provision of the Lord in the Old Testament as he is sharing with Nicodemus about who he is.

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life”( John 3:14-15 NASB).

Just as the Israelites in the Old Testament were instructed to look to the bronze serpent in order to live, today we must look to Jesus to have eternal life. It is only through the obedience, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the Lord’s grace and provision that we have access to eternal life. Today, may we pray that the Lord would reveal our sin to us and lead us to repentance. May we look to Jesus our Savior who was lifted up for our salvation.

Shannon O’Carroll