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Look and Live

Day 5

Today's Reading: Numbers 21:4-9

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. (Numbers 21:4-9)

God prescribed an interesting solution for the problem of His people’s sin in today’s passage. Due to their rebellion and grumbling in the wilderness, the Lord sent fiery serpents among the Israelites to bite them! When Moses interceded for the people, God provided a way for them to be saved. But this was no ordinary means of salvation.

God told Moses to set a fiery serpent on a pole so that anyone who had been bitten could simply look at the serpent on the pole and live. Now, looking at a snake may sound like the last thing you would want to do after being bitten by a snake. However, as God did throughout the Old Testament, He was ultimately setting the stage for the advent, or coming, of Jesus. Notice the connection Jesus makes between this story in Numbers 21 and the purpose of His own coming:

“And 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)

When Jesus talks about being “lifted up,” He’s talking about being lifted up on a cross. Like the Israelites, we too deserve death for our sin, and the only way we can be saved is by lifting up our eyes and looking at a man dying on the cross. Here we have a powerful picture of how we’re saved, and it’s not by doing good works or checking off boxes of religious duties. It’s by looking and living. It’s by believing and finding life. It’s the familiar yet gloriously good news of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”


Thank God that He has saved you based not on your own righteousness or efforts but rather on what He has accomplished by sending His Son to die for your sins.

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Copyright 2019 by David Platt and Radical, Inc.