Summary of passage: The Lord tells Moses to make a snake and put it up on the pole and if the people looked at it, they would live. Moses obeyed.
7a) “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”
b) We are not told that Moses did think the instructions were strange. This is extrapolation. I did not see this snake as an idol. An idol is something worshipped as God by people. This snake is not being worshipped. I see this snake as not a representation of God. I see it like a pill we’d take today. The doctor prescribes a pill to cure you; you take it. Here, God says look at this snake; it will cure you. I in no way see this as an idol, and I don’t think Moses did either. This is pure speculation.
8a) The snake is a test of faith as Jesus is/was. God said merely believe this snake will cure you and it will. Jesus said merely believe I am the Son of God and you will be saved.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Complete.
Conclusions: I like how this lesson brings out Jesus’s reference. It is a great analogy of how faith alone is all God requires to be with Him. What I didn’t like was the interpretation of what Moses thought of being told to make a snake. It doesn’t matter what Moses thought about it. If God tells you to do something, you do it. Period.
BSF could be referring to 2 Kings 18:4 and how the people perverted the snake later into an idol (Nehushtan). But since they didn’t reference the passage or ask a question on it, this to me is out of place.
Maybe I’m just in a sour mood this week. Whatever the case, too many personal and opinion questions that don’t make a lot of sense. Our time would be better spent on more meat.
Not sure why we are spending one whole week on one chapter in Numbers. I see this as nothing we haven’t studied already: belief followed by unbelief so why spend so much time on it? Coming up, we will be covering the last 10 chapters of Numbers in one lesson and then the first 26 chapters of Deuteronomy in one lesson/week! Wish the readings could be spread out more. Reading big clumps of the Bible is an undertaking and one that is hard to absorb much learning under time constraints. This can be overwhelming and discouraging to many and keep them from coming to BSF when they can’t complete their lessons on time. Reading the Bible period is overwhelming and BSF helps to break it into manageable parts. But for me I’d rather not read so much and get something out of it then hurry up and complete the books and Moses’s life.
End Notes: The symbolism here is immense. Serpents are often associated with the devil and evil in the Bible (after all, the devil appeared as a serpent to Eve (Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9). However, bronze is a symbol of judgment as bronze is made through fire.
Thus, here we have an evil (snake) being judged (bronze). Thus Jesus became sin and was judged. A picture of sin overcome.
We don’t know how the serpent was positioned on the pole. If horizontal, we’d have the symbol of the cross. However, traditionally, the serpent is showed being wrapped around the pole. Here, we have the ancient symbol of a healer (see picture HERE). Now, upon further research, this is also an ancient Greek myth and a Roman myth (the Romans are infamous for stealing Greek ideas and claiming them as their own) surrounding this symbol.
If you click HERE, I have found a side-by-side comparison of the myths. Below is the Biblical version. Which is first? Who knows. It reminds me of how in many cultures around the world, the creation myth of a flood appears. It makes me wonder if man has any original ideas or they are just recycled.
I did not know this and find this fascinating where the imagery came from. Wish we spent some time on this in BSF.
We must remember this bronze snake was sanctioned by God and was not an idol. It was a test of faith only. It is man who perverts God’s will.
Bonus Read: Lengthy article HERE on serpents in the Bible, including analysis of this passage. Great explanation of serpents and the Egyptians.
Fun Fact: Michelangelo painted this IMAGE on the Sistine Chapel. Way cool!