Many people can recite man 3:16, but how numerous know what man 3:14–15 says? Jesus’ native in these 2 verses have created confusion and also controversy: “And together Moses lifted increase the serpent in the wilderness, so must the son of male be lifted up, the whoever trust in him may have actually eternal life.”

John 3:15 gift no problem; the declares the gospel—that Jesus, the boy of male in this passage, is the true object of belief for all who would have eternal life. The an obstacle lies in city 14, whereby Jesus compares His destiny top top the overcome to a serpent “lifted up” in the wilderness.


In this analogy, Jesus paint, etc on numbers 21:4–9, one of numerous incidents in which the Israelites complained around their circumstances on your journey come the promised land. God punished your impatience and also lack of belief by sending out venomous “fiery serpents” into the camp (Num 21:6). After numerous fatalities, the civilization begged Moses to intercede with God on their behalf. God relented and instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent and set it top top a pole. Everyone bitten by a serpent would certainly be cure by gazing at the bronze serpent.

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Although the parallel in between the serpent on the pole and also Jesus top top the cross is apparent, the event raises questions. Why no God cure the world directly? to be the copper serpent an idol, and also thus a violation that the second commandment? i will not ~ the Israelites have actually recoiled in ~ the association of healing through a serpent?

Not out of Eden

We can incorrectly link the serpent top top the pole (Num 21) and also the serpent in the garden (Gen 3), however the only similarity between these two passages is words serpent (nachash, נחשׁ). The nachash of Genesis 3 is a figure acting independently of—and in opposition to—the will certainly of God. In number 21 the biting serpents space God’s instrument of referee for sin, and also the nachash top top the pole is God’s tool of healing for those punished for sin.

Maybe Magic

In component the answer come “why a serpent?” is uncovered in the old practice of sorry magic—the idea that a human afflicted by things can be cured or ceded by picture of that same object. In the absence of advanced medical knowledge, old cultures search cures because that physical ailments or viewed curses by together means. Us can uncover several examples of this old medical approach in other places in the Old Testament.

For example, the Philistines fashioned five golden objects that corresponded to one affliction Yahweh sent upon their cities (1 Sam 6:5–18). Both Moses and Elisha purified drinking water through using facets that would otherwise taint that (Exod 15:25; 2 Kgs 2:21). Elisha got no instruction from God to proceed as he did, and so that apparently believed God would empower the gesture. In numbers 21 God renders use of this familiar social idea to interact an sell of divine deliverance to the Israelites.

Also Symbolism

God’s usage of serpent symbolism for healing was suitable for other reasons. Israelites, like various other Semitic peoples, linked serpents with life and healing. Snake were believed to have regenerative heal powers due to the fact that they burned their skin. Serpent images were a usual motif in ancient Near eastern art. Warehouse jars often had serpent imagery—perhaps come ward off theft or spoilage. The Greek god that healing, Asclepius, was depicted as a snake. The rod of Asclepius, a staff entwined by a snake, is still a symbol because that medicine and also healing today. Here, Yahweh uses this imagery to proclaim His sovereignty over various other gods.

Aside from their association through healing, serpents were familiar symbols that protection. Consider old Egypt, where the snake is one ever-present symbol.

The uraeus serpent ~ above the crown the the pharaoh was thought to render him immune from harm and enable him come heal. Other serpent icons served as magnificent guardians. The confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh, in i beg your pardon the serpent that God devoured the Egyptians’ serpents, sent out a powerful theological message around the superiority of Yahweh (Exod 7:8– 13). Yahweh—not Pharaoh—had strength over the natural and also divine worlds and the government to dispense or withhold judgment or mercy. He was truly God; pharaoh was an amateur magician.

Some of these messages room conveyed in both number 21 and John 3:14–15. First, Yahweh was not a God through whom come trifle. He might punish faithlessness by commanding the pressures of nature—sending venomous serpents against the Israelites. However He additionally had the power to reverse the effects, providing His divine healing v a bronze serpent. Heal came v one condition: The Israelites had actually to exercise faith in the offer.

Jesus’ use of this check of the “obedience of faith” create a fitting analogy to His very own destiny. Death, the herbal world’s most consuming force, would certainly be reversed because that all that looked come Jesus, increased up top top the pole the the cross—if only the afflicted would believe.

See more: Escucha Las Oraciones E Indica Si Lo Que Dice Cada Una Es Cierto O Falso, Según El Dibujo.

Biblical recommendations are from the English traditional Version (ESV).

Article courtesy of Bible research Magazine released by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 5 No. 2