April 12, 2018
READ: Numbers 21:1-9
As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up (John 3:14).
The origins of crucifixion are unknown, but the Roman Empire was infamous for inflicting the debasing practice on society’s lowest. Yet today, the cross—the representative symbol of crucifixion—is often prominently displayed, cherished by believers in Jesus around the world.
The Israelites experienced a similar turnaround during their sojourn in the wilderness. After an exhilarating victory (Numbers 21:1-3), God led His people through a detour to avoid engaging another nation in battle. “But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. . . . So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died” (vv.4-6).
Moses prayed for the people and received this divine instruction: “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” (v.8).
This probably would have struck Moses as odd, given the commandment forbidding graven images (Exodus 20:4) and the understanding that anyone who hung on a tree or pole was cursed (Deuteronomy 21:23). Yet he obeyed, and, as God had promised, anyone who’d been bitten found healing when they looked at the bronze snake (Numbers 21:9).
In that wilderness, a symbol of death and judgement was transformed into an instrument of life and healing. But God didn’t stop there—just “as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man [was] lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).
In difficult times, remember—God can transform even what’s most painful in your life into a place where you experience His healing power. Wait on Him for new life and hope.
365-day plan: 1 Kings 1:28-53
Read Galatians 3:13 for further insight into how Jesus transformed the meaning of the cross.
Jesus’ work on the cross has the power to transform the darkest and most shameful parts of our lives. What will you lay down at the cross today for His healing touch?