They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. – Numbers 21:4-9 NKJV.
This takes place during the time that the people of Israel were wandering through the desert. They had been delivered from slavery in Egypt and had witnessed amazing miracles performed by the hand of God. God had provided food for them in the desert, a supernatural food called manna. They had received the Commandments directly from God written on stone tablets by the finger of God. They were headed for the promised land that was overflowing with milk and honey. Great success, victory was just ahead. But, they did have a problem, it was their whining, their endless complaining, and their lack of faithfulness. That was when God sent the plague of snakes.
Thankfully for the Hebrews, Moses prayed for them and God gave a way to deal with the snakes. Put a bronze snake up on a pole, so when someone is bitten by a poisonous snake if they look at the snake they will live. What was it that they saw when they looked up at the bronze snake? They saw a lifeless bronze snake on a pole, but beyond that they saw the Heavens beyond reminding them of their Creator. The bronze snake had no power in itself; it was the looking at it and the Heavens beyond with the eyes of faith that brought the healing.
We have all been bitten by the snake of sin (Romans 3:23) and it is a deadly bite (Romans 6:23). As Jesus tells us in John 3:14-16 NKJV, “And 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. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Have you looked to Jesus?
There is something else important to see here and that is that God provided a way to survive the snakebite, but He didn’t remove the snakes. Once we know Jesus as our Savior, there are still going to be snakes. What are we to do? We must continue to look to Jesus! Hebrews 12:3, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”