Category Archives: numbers

Snakes

Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.’ So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live. Numbers 21:6-9

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.John 3:14-15

The thing about the snakes is that they were the judgement as well as the cure. The snake was lifted up in order to free the people from… snakes. Snakes, sent by God to punish the people. Is Jesus (or John) just telling us about the lifted up Son of Man saving us, or is he also quietly reminding us that the same Son of Man represents judgement…

Or even that God’s judgement always contains within it the mechanism of salvation?