Numbers 21 begins with the Israelites winning a conclusive victory over the Canaanites located in the Negev. However, as they continue their journey, they begin to complain against both God and Moses, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt? There is no food and water, and we hate this miserable manna!” God sends fiery serpents among the people, and many died from the venomous bites.
The people cry out to Moses, repenting and begging for deliverance. God instructs Moses to fashion a bronze image of a fiery serpent. Whoever looked up and beheld the bronze serpent would live.
Yeshua mentions this story in John 3:14 saying that he would be lifted up like the bronze serpent in the wilderness and those who believe in him will gain eternal life.
This story speaks plainly to us as we contemplate this time of change, of repentance. The fiery serpents can be seen as the damage we inflict upon each other with our tongues—the sad way we weaponize our words against each other and even against our Savior. The venom of these serpents is enhanced by looking at our feet, at our problems, at the circumstances sabotaging our lives. The serpents come to life as we revive them with our complaining and murmuring. Lifting our eyes to Yeshua, our Savior, heals us and sets us free.
In the story of David and Goliath, the men of Israel are gathered in the valley of Elah against the formidable foe, Goliath. They had rehearsed the might and size of Goliath, the weight of his spear point, the vast shield he carried, the overwhelming spectacle of this fearsome warrior. They had released among themselves poisonous fear and were completely immobilized by dread of their enemy. David comes to the camp and asks the question—who is this uncircumcised Philistine that defies the armies of the living Elohim? When you read the Psalms, you see David continually rehearsing the mighty deliverances God had performed in his behalf. His eyes were on the Almighty and his ability to save.
Why a bronze serpent? Yeshua came to destroy the works of the devil. How harmful or venomous is a bronze serpent? It is a picture of a defanged, defenseless, harmless enemy. Lifting him up exposed the serpent’s defeat. In the same way David removed the head of Goliath and took it to Jerusalem so that Israel would know that their enemy was conquered and utterly defeated. As we walk through these 40 days of change, we can choose to lift up our heads. Our Savior Yeshua has won the battle and always leads us in triumph.
Whatever you are experiencing you will gain strength by looking up and beholding your Messiah, the one who died for you, and who makes all things possible. Make that choice today!