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December 18 – Picture #4: A snake

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:14-15

Scripture reading: Numbers 21:1-9

By blessing the Israelites with bread and water every day, God made it good and clear that He could and would keep His people alive in the barren wilderness. And He did! After bringing them safely to the border of the Promised Land, twelve men went in and explored. They returned with a glowing report about the land, but a grim report about the people living there: “We can’t attack those people. They are far bigger and stronger than we are” (Numbers 13:23-27, 31-33).

What unbelievable unbelief! God got them out of Egypt. Surely He could get them into the Promised Land? Yes, He could! But their unbelief earned them forty years of wandering in the wilderness.

Fast-forward forty years. Had their behavior improved? Not really. They were again complaining about the lack of water and moaning about the monotonous manna. So God sent venomous snakes to inflict death-inducing bites. Many died.

Had God’s grace run out? No! When His children confessed their sin, He gave yet another picture of Jesus: a snake on a pole. By looking in faith at the serpent, the poisoned person was cured.

Shocking, isn’t it? Serpents are cursed symbols of sin and Satan. How could this be a picture of Jesus? While suspended on the cross, God laid on Jesus all our sin and rebellion, making Him a symbol of all that is heinous and evil. And there, Jesus redeemed us from the curse of eternal death by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God that just as the Israelites who looked to the bronze serpent were saved from physical death, so all who look to Jesus as the sin-bearer are saved from eternal death.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God DevotionalRev. Brian Zegers has been serving the Lord by working with Word of Life Ministry as home missionary to the Muslim community in Toronto, Ontario since 2015.

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