Look and Live (Numbers 21:8–9) - Radical

Look and Live (Numbers 21:8–9)

“And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole. And everyone’s who 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 21:8–9

This is a very interesting story. So God’s people are yet again rebelling against God and what’s happening is there’s basically a curse among God’s people and they are all getting bit by snakes and dying. And as a result of these fiery serpents among the people, God says, “Hey, take this pole, put an image of a fiery serpent on it and whenever people are bitten if they look at this then they’ll be able to live.”

We find life by looking to a picture of death. Jesus went to the cross to bear our sins and die the death we deserve. Only in Him do we find life.

This Verse Finds Life in the Midst of Death

So I’m putting myself in the shoes of Israelites at this point, who are being bitten by fiery serpents. The last thing I want to look to is a fiery serpent in order to live. But this symbol, this picture of death actually becomes a symbol, a picture of deliverance. So you find life in looking to a picture that symbolizes death. And in this the stage is set for Jesus to say in John 3:14 “just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert. So the son of man must be lifted up that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” So think about it. How do you and I have eternal life? By looking where? To Jesus’s death on a cross.

When Jesus talks about being lifted up, he’s not talking about being exalted here in Heaven at the Father’s right hand. He’s talking about being lifted up on a cross. This picture of death and this is how we find life by looking to a cross. We find life by looking to a picture of death. This is the Gospel. It’s the Gospel and Numbers 21 made clear in John Chapter 3. It’s one of those places we see in Scripture where we’re just reminded in a Luke 24 kind of way.

Numbers 21:8–9 Points Us Toward Jesus

All of Scripture is pointing us to Jesus. All of Scripture is helping us to understand the salvation we have in Him. The relationship we have with God through Him. And so we are compelled to pray based on Numbers Chapter 21. God, we look to Jesus. We look to Jesus for life. We look to Jesus’s death for our life. God, we confess today. We do not have a life apart from Jesus’s death on the cross for our sins.

So Jesus, we praise as we look to you for the life you bring through your death. We praise you for taking the payment of our sin upon yourself and dying for us. We praise you for being lifted up on a cross so that we might have life. And we pray that you will help us to point other people to you today to say, “Look to Jesus on a cross and live.” God may that message be clear from our mouth’s today. God, please, please, please. I think about the most recent statistic I saw just in the Church I pastor where two-thirds of people, who are there on a Sunday, rarely if ever share the Gospel. Like less than two times over the course of the last year.

Numbers 21:8–9 Praises Jesus for His Salvation

God please may that not be so among us. Lord, help us to share the Gospel today. Help us end conversation today to tell somebody, “Look to Jesus and live. Jesus died on a cross for you. Look to Him. Put your faith in Him. Believe in Him and you will have life.” God help us to share that today. We pray. Use us to introduce people to Jesus we pray. And the salvation that we find in the death of Jesus. God please use us to bring that kind of life to others today. So Jesus, we praise you for dying so that we might live. In your name we pray. Amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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