“Lifted up was He to die ………
Heav’n exalted high”
This week my daily readings have all been chosen to reflect the title “Life through faith” and the first of these came from the book of Numbers
chapter 21 vs. 4-9, which recounts the story of Israel’s complaints, yet again, against the Lord and Moses about being in the desert with no proper food and drink. “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness” v. 5.
This occurred straight after the Lord had given them a great victory against the Canaanites in answer to their plea for help – how quickly they had forgotten the answer to prayer! As a punishment, the Lord sent poisonous
snakes among the people and many of them were bitten and died. This disaster brought the Israelites to their senses and they pleaded with Moses to pray for deliverance. Moses is told by the Lord to fashion a bronze snake, mount it on a pole and if the people
will look up at the snake they will be healed.
When I had read this passage, my mind immediately went to the words of Jesus referring to this situation and likening it to His eventual crucifixion. “Just as
Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him” John 3 :14.
I am ashamed to admit that I knew this quote came from
John’s gospel but could not remember its exact location! I was rather chastened then to find that it came in Jesus’s talk with Nicodemus, two verses before one of the most well – known verses in scripture regarding our salvation! After I
had found the New Testament passage, I then discovered, the next day, that my reading was that very story as the compiler of the readings wanted to bring home the way Jesus used His knowledge of the Old Testament to teach His followers about His purpose on
The Israelites were only healed if they both obeyed God’s command to look up at the snake on the pole and believed they would then be saved from death. We too must look to Jesus and believe He is the
Son of God who died and rose again so that we may have eternal life. The Greek used for the words “lifted up” in John, can also be translated “exalted”, which is Christ’s position now!