Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
The story in Numbers packs a powerful truth. The people were wallowing in Old Covenant darkness, forgetting that they were New Covenant children of father Abraham. "The soul of the people became very discouraged on the way" (21:4). They indulged in bitter unbelief and rebellion. Pure sin.
The Lord took the blame for what He did not prevent. He permitted poisonous snakes to afflict them. Fear motivated the people to "repent and beg Moses to pray that the Lord would "take away" the snakes (they couldn't pray!).
The Lord declined; instead, He appointed a way out for them: make one out of brass, lift it up so the people could see it on a pole; healing would come by simply looking. Other than that, no one was asked to "do" anything. We "see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death" "made to be sin for us" "who knew no sin," "that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (Heb. 2:9; 2 Cor. 5:21). Same idea: "seeing."
Worthy and unworthy people were treated alike: there's no record that the "good" were immune. The snake on the pole was for "all men."
Was the Lord teaching that law obedience is unimportant? No; He had another lesson for them that went deeper. Salvation is not secured by what we do but by what we "behold." The beholding brings "comprehension" of the "width and length and depth and height--to know the love [agape] of Christ which passes knowledge." Then we are "filled with all the fullness of God," ready for translation at Christ's coming (Eph. 3:18, 19).
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 31, 2006.
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