Read Numbers 21:4–9; 2 Kings 18:1–8
They spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!" Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. Numbers 21:5–6 NIV
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During the Exodus from Egypt, God sent a plague of snakes because the people grumbled against God and Moses. The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us."
So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." (21:7-8)
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Hundreds of years later, the people of Judah were worshiping the bronze snake, instead of honoring God who had brought them out of Egypt. When Hezekiah became king, He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (2 Kings 18:4)
The bronze snake was a gift from God for healing and they focused on the gift instead of the One who gave it–making it into an idol.
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Dear Father, the bronze snake could not heal in itself, but it represented the One who could–Jesus Christ who was lifted up on the cross for our sin. Lord, keep my focus on You, the giver of every good and perfect gift.
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"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." John 3:14-15 NIV