“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” Numbers 21:8-9 (NKJV)
“And 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 (NKJV)
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)
I always wondered why God allowed the Israelites in the wilderness to be healed by looking at a serpent on a pole. After all, isn’t a serpent a symbol for Satan? Moreover, what does that have to do with Jesus, and why does God compare the crucifixion to the serpent being lifted up in the wilderness? The verse from Second Corinthians answers these questions! The serpent is a symbol for Satan and for sin. When the Israelites looked at the serpent on the pole, they were healed from the serpent’s venom. The Bible does not say that the serpent on the pole healed them; it simply states that “they lived.” The serpent was crucified. When the people acknowledged that fact by looking at the serpent, God healed them. Just as the serpent was lifted up on the pole in the wilderness, Jesus became sin for us on the cross. When He was crucified, His blood conquered sin for all time and eternity. When we acknowledge His sacrifice on our behalf, God heals us from the poison of sin. Sin was crucified when Jesus went to the cross. The power of sin and its toxic effects in our lives was conquered forever. Hallelujah!