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Riddle of Moses' brazen serpent solved

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  • Riddle of Moses' brazen serpent solved

    I say solved; I mean for me it is. I've always wondered about this story of the brazen serpent from Exodus. Here's a quick review: God sent fiery serpents among the people in the wilderness because of their grumbling. He told Moses to fashion a serpent of brass and fix it to a pole. If a person was bitten by a serpent, he or she could look at the brazen serpent and they would be healed.

    The text doesn't really give us any more information about the brazen serpent itself so we're left to speculate.

    We know from hindsight (John 3:14), the brazen serpent was a type; it foreshadowed Christ's death on the cross. There's really only one conclusion that can be drawn: symbolically, the brazen serpent represented a dead serpent. This is why it had healing power. It prefigured Christ's death on the cross.

    2 Kings 18:4 tells us that the people had started worshiping the brazen serpent, which the righteous king Hezekiah smashed to pieces. Obviously God was displeased with their idolatry; but I believe there's another important piece to the puzzle. The people had actually named the brazen serpent: Nehushtan. They apparently had come to view it as a living god or entity. They completely missed God's original purpose altogether: that is, the brazen serpent wasn't living, but dead.
    Love is patient, love is kind; it does not envy, it does not boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
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