The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” (Numbers 21:8)
What a Gospel shadow we have been given to both encourage and equip us! The Israelites, who had grumbled against both Moses and God, were judged by God when He sent venomous snakes in their midst as punishment. Moses intervened by praying for the people. In His mercy, God instructed Moses to make a serpent and set it upon a pole so that when the people would look upon it in faith as the only provision for their problem, they would be healed and live.
The same principle holds true today. One who realizes that he or she is a sinner and that “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20), need only look to Jesus in faith, and that person shall be raised from death to life. When we look to Christ alone as the source of salvation, not thinking that there is some “antivenom” of good works that we must add to His finished cross work, we will be healed from the deadly bite of the serpent and receive new life in Christ.
But there is more to this promise for the Christian: Every day after that gracious salvation, we are commanded to “Look and live!” Jesus promised to give us the abundant life, but we will only find it by looking to Him. The abundant life will not be found in our jobs . . . or our finances . . . or our possessions . . . or our relationships. The abundant life will only be found in Jesus Christ. If we are to “look and live,” we must be looking to our Lord alone.
If you are dealing with a bite from the serpent, fear not! Look to Jesus and live. You may be filled with the venom of sin running through the veins of your life and believe your condition is beyond hope. Fear not! Look to Jesus and live. The Israelites were utterly beyond hope until God graciously created a provision for their critical condition.
Perhaps you already have, by grace through faith, received new life in Christ. You understand that the serpent on the pole was a shadow; you have the Substance of that shadow in Jesus. So look to Him, regardless of what you are dealing with today, and live! Jesus brings life to miserable marriages, fractured families, derailed dreams, sadness in your singleness, and joyless jobs, just to name a few areas where He can and will bring new life.
One final point: those Israelites who did not look by faith did not live. Perhaps the cure seemed too simple or too silly, and they refused to believe in the promise. Those who did not look died in their sin. If there is anything obstructing your view of your Savior—if you have any doubts about the promise of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ—ask God to remove that barrier at once. Then look and live!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!