Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” (Numbers 21:8)
One of the great mysteries in the Bible is why God instructed Moses to make an image of the very thing that had afflicted Israel in order to be the very thing that could bring healing and deliverance to them. It is a strange sign, indeed, but that is the sort of thing that should prompt us to look even closer at what the Bible describes to us. It is particularly interesting when you look at a literal rendering of the Hebrew — it says: “Make a seraph and appoint him as banner. Everyone who is bitten by the serpent and doomed to die, when he sees Him, shall live.”
As a matter of point, the Hebrew word for serpent isn’t in the text but is understood. שרף Seraph is the word translated as “fiery serpent” which, in itself, is interesting considering that seraph is typically used to describe an angelic being. Couple this with the fact that, according to the Hebrew, the one who is placed upon a pole (literally “banner) is “appointed” as the one the people are to look unto for their salvation — you can see where this is going. Put simply, this is just one of many strange signs in the Torah that points us to the Messiah. By the way, the Hebrew word משיח Mashiach (Messiah) has a numerical value of 358 which happens to be the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word נחש nachash or “serpent.”
There is a Messianic prophecy found in Isaiah which says: “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious” (Isaiah 11:10). In other words, all who have been infected by the Serpent’s poison can look to the One who “stands as a banner to the people” for salvation. And just in case some might have a hard time making that connection, Messiah said this: As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14).
As His disciples, it is part of our mission to make certain He is “lifted up” in our lives so that others who have been “bitten” may see the source of their salvation. Each and every day, let us live in a way that all those we encounter “see” the Messiah in our lives and live.
Blessings and Shalom,