In this sermon, Pastor Neil preaches on how the Lord’s provision for the Israelites in the desert is like His provision for us, based on Numbers Chapter 21. Here are some excerpts:
…God’s provision of the bronze snake as a means for healing from the poisonous snakes in the desert was a pre-figuring or foreshadowing of the sin-atoning death of Jesus on the cross for us. Do you see that? In Numbers, the snake-bitten Israelites were required to look at the bronze snake – a symbol of God’s judgment upon them, a judgment from God they totallydeserved because of their grumbling and rebellious hearts. They deserved to die. But God provides the bronze snake as an expression of His mercy. In His mercy, He did not treat them as their sins deserve (Psalm 103:10). Which is true for us as well.
The Lord’s provision, though, was not automatic. This was no blanket provision of healing. The people had to do something in order to be healed of the poisonous snake bites. They had to look at the bronze snake. Whether they understood it or not, they had to obey God by looking at the bronze snake and trust in His power – God’s power, not the power of asculpture – to heal them. They had to acknowledge their sin and see that it had been judged by God.
God could have removed the snakes. Instead, He left the snakes but provided a remedy. But this was only a foreshadowing of what God would do in the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross for us. We are all under the curse of death because of our sins. Whether it is grumbling against God or having other gods before Him, whether it is failing to love others orpride or lust or lying or greed or selfishness or … you name your sin … we have all sinnedagainst God more times than we can count and in more ways than we know. What we deserve is the judgment of God. What we deserve is to be cursed by God. Our good deeds can never cure us of the snakebite of sin.
But, as He did with the people of Israel in the desert, God has provided the remedy for us. The remedy is the death of Jesus on the cross for us. Jesus was lifted up on the cross, where He bore our sins – yours and mine – in His body (1 Peter 2:24). The Bible says: “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might” be made righteous and holy in God’s sight (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus “redeemed us from the curse of the law” – the law that none of us can live up to – “by becoming a curse for us, as it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13).