May 29 I Saturday
2 Chronicles 7-9
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” —John 3:14-15
The opening verse of this devotion talks about an Old Testament event, but how does it relate to Jesus? The story comes from Numbers 21:4-9. Moses was leading the nation of Israel out of their bondage of slavery in Egypt. They were wandering for some time and the Israelites were getting fed up, and in their stubborn hearts, they spoke out against God and against Moses, saying, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” (Numbers 21:5). The food they detested was manna that God miraculously provided for them.
As the Israelites grumbled, God sent venomous snakes among them that bit people and killed many Israelites. They realized they had sinned and went to Moses pleading, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” Moses prayed for the Israelites and God told Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live” (Numbers 21:7-8). Moses followed God’s instruction; anyone who was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake would live.
There are a number of parallels in this story to the New Testament. One in particular is that God instructed Moses to fashion a serpent as the source of salvation for people who have been bitten by a serpent. As we have studied Scripture, we learn that the serpent refers to our enemy, the devil. Why would God make the serpent the very thing to look at for salvation? What does it have to do with the cross that Jesus is referring to when He said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him” (John 3:14-15)?
What does the cross symbolize? For the person who receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, they will look at the cross and see heaven’s redemption, the Son of Man pouring out His life for the forgiveness of our sins. But when heaven looks at the cross, it sees God’s punishment, wrath and condemnation being poured out on His One and only Son. The paradox of the cross is that it is a symbol of satanic condemnation, while at the same time, of heavenly salvation and grace.
The cross represents the enemy’s attempt to destroy the Creator, but it became the very place where the Creator triumphed over the enemy. What do we see when we look at the cross?
Prayer: Creator God, thank You for giving us Jesus, that I may look at Him on the cross and see mercy, hope and forgiveness. Amen!