Tonight’s sermon was an overview of Numbers. The pastor, in discussing the brass serpent in Numbers 21, referenced the connection made in John 3:14-18 of the parallel between the brass serpent and Christ on the cross. He made a passing remark that it was an odd parallel, though one supported by Scripture.
For the rest of the evening, I’ve been pondering that parallel. It is indeed odd, because of what serpents represent in Scripture. Satan appears in the form of a serpent to tempt Eve to sin. So is the serpent a picture of Satan? Close, but not quite.
In Genesis 3, the serpent tempts Eve to sin. Here, in Numbers 21, the fiery serpents are sent as a punishment for the Israelites’ sin. It seems that sin is the common thread.
And, with this, the connection to Jesus comes into clearer focus. II Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (KJV). Jesus took on our sin and became sin in our place, that we might be made righteous.
Of course, the story of the serpent doesn’t end there. Having atoned for sin, Jesus rose on the third day, and brought the story full circle by fulfilling the promise in Genesis 3:15 to crush the serpent’s head.