Numbers 21:4–9; Ephesians 2:1–10; John 3:14–21 (read online ⧉)
You may recognize the description of the snake on a stick. This is almost identical to the Rod of Asclepius, which is often used (along with, erroneously, the caduceus) to symbolize medical organizations or people. Asclepius was the Greek god of healing, so it makes sense. It is quite interesting that the making of this staff, though instructed by God, would seem to be a violation of the commandment against idols (Exodus 20:4). Yet, as it was intended, it was to be a physical and symbolic reminder that it was their sin (speaking against God) that brought the curse of the snakes upon them and the grace of God by which they were healed.
We can readily tie the passage of Ephesians to this story. We (like the Israelites) lived life according to the flesh. We often allowed our desires and the world’s influence guides our decisions. We may even have spoken against God. Yet, as Paul points out, God still held out the hand and gift of grace through Jesus Christ. Through the life of Jesus, and his sacrifice on the cross, we have the opportunity to accept a gift we could never make or work for on our own. By accepting the gift, we accept Christ as our way of life, and the Spirit of the Living God dwells in us.
Jesus was explaining this to Nicodemus and brought into his explanation the story of the bronze snake, relating the lifting of the snake on a stick, to his own crucifixion. The crucifixion, just like the bronze snake was God’s grace in action. The difference between the two was that one preserved life here on earth, and one gave life here on earth and life eternal.
1) Are you too focus on the here and now to look for the eternal?
2) Have you ever done something where God brought you back into focus on him in a way that was unpleasant or painful?
In many respects, we can see COVID as a plague. While it is not a same situation, there is a single similarity. We can look around and be consumed, or we can look to and and trust in God to be free. Which will you choose?