Devotions

Category Archives: Memoirs of Moses

Lift Your Eyes

Brazen Serpent | Devotion 6: Lift Your Eyes
Roger Allen

We have all seen the video where a person on their phone walks into the signpost, right? Remember when you first learned to dribble a basketball? Concentrating on the ball, we kept our head down as we dribbled down the court, failing to see our wide-open teammate under the rim. So often in life, we proceed in a similar manner. We have distractions in our everyday life. We tend to keep our eye off the important things. We allow errands, travel sports, and “chasing the dream,” to become the focus of our attention. Failing to look up, we lose out on so many things.

In the book of John, we find just such a scenario. Chapter 3 starts with the story of Nicodemus. Considered a “ruler of the Jews,” Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He would have been religious, pious, and observed all the Jewish laws. To most, he would have appeared to have it together. He was considered as a man that surely had his eternity secured. We see him come under cover of darkness to question Jesus about who He claims to be. This is where things get interesting, and we see Nicodemus for who he truly is. When questioned about spiritual matters, he fails to understand what Jesus is saying. Sarcastically, Jesus asks him as a teacher why he can not understand what He has said. Because his religiosity had blinded him, he almost failed to see who Jesus truly was.

Right at the end of this interview, John 3:14-15 says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

So often, like Nicodemus, the lost world tends to look at the physical instead of the spiritual. Blinded by the religious experience and worldly desires, they miss the most important aspect of their lives. Making a list and marking it off gives them a sense of security. When we read John 3:14-15, we may be confused by what we find. We might even read right past what Jesus is saying to Nicodemus. Why does Jesus compare Himself with a serpent? It seems odd; does it not? The serpent, the representation of evil in the world, lifted up for all to see, for whoever looks on it will live (Numbers 21:4-9). Is this actually the foreshadow of who Jesus is? Are we to look upon the embodiment of evil for our salvation? It is not until we read this next verse that it becomes apparent to us what Jesus meant, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

High and lifted up, unblemished, sinless, perfect in every way, Jesus becomes sin for us so that we may have an eternal relationship with God. When we look on the cross, we see our past, present, and future sin, rendered dead and buried. As the representation of the serpent, our transgressions have been cast out, and we are found righteous by the act of our Savior. God furnished the “perfect lamb” for our atonement; we are now free from the penalty of our sin. Yet, there will be those that believe they have lived a righteous and holy life, only to find they will be cast out. Others have heard the call and completely turned their back on God. The religious men and women, that through the theology of works, keep their eyes to the ground, only to miss out on the salvation of their souls. All they had to do was “look up” and see what Jesus did for them. The gift of grace is free, and all we have to do is trust and believe in Him. “For God so loved the world” He sent His only Son to pay our price in full. Look to Him that beat death, Hell, and the grave.

John 3:16 promises, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

Look for Jesus

Brazen Serpent | Devotion 5: Look for Jesus
Isaiah Combs

Reading the Old Testament can be hard. I struggle through chapters and verses like everyone else. However, I have found the key to reading and studying the Old Testament – look for Jesus! The whole Old Testament is filled with pictures of Jesus and mankind’s desperate need for a savior. That savior is Jesus. I love how the New Testament writers inspired by God used Old Testament verses and stories to prove that Jesus is the answer.

Could you imagine growing up your whole life being forced to study and learn the Old Testament? You know all the stories and laws by heart and your life is built around what the laws, thoughts, and stories say. Then a guy, John, who was a follower of Jesus writes in John 3:14-16, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

The story John is describing in these verses is found in Numbers 21:4-9. God sent fiery snakes to bite and kill the people of Israel as punishment for their sins and dumb things they did. Verse 6 says that many people died. However, God gave the people a way to save themselves from death after being bit by one of these fiery snakes. God had Moses build a bronze statue of one of the fiery snakes, and if you got bit all you had to do was look at the statue, and you would survive.

Remember, when I told you to look for Jesus? I hope this story sounds familiar. Our Savior Jesus, the Son of Man, was lifted up on the cross and died for our sins. When we look to the cross and believe Jesus died, was buried, and rose again, we will be saved from death and eternal damnation.

Jesus is the key to the whole Bible. He is the fulfiller, author, and finisher. The whole Bible is about Him and for Him. Look for Jesus!

Come to Jesus Moment

Brazen Serpent | Devotion 4: Come to Jesus Moment
Pastor Ryan and Cathy Story

Have you ever had what you would consider a “come to Jesus moment” with someone? This may have been with one of your children, a family member, or even someone at work. This statement can be used to describe situations where people have a serious or truth revealing conversation. The English language has many statements where we describe situations or things in one way but do not mean those words literally. There are times where these figurative language statements could not be true. When someone says that it is raining cats and dogs, you would not expect actually to see cats or dogs falling from the sky. While the statement that someone had a come to Jesus moment could be figurative, John 3:14-16 shows us the importance of using this statement in a literal context.

While many people are able to quote John 3:16 from memory, not as many people are able to quote verses 14 and 15. John 3:14-16 writes, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

In Numbers chapter 21, Moses was commanded to place the bronze serpent on the pole. To be saved from death caused by the fiery serpents, one had to look to the bronze serpent. John 3:14 tells us that in this same way, “The Son of Man [is to] be lifted up.” Just as looking at the serpent on the pole saved lives, looking to Jesus on the cross saves us when we believe. For this to happen, we need to have literal come to Jesus moments.

The Bible frequently writes about us coming to Jesus. In Matthew 11:28, it is written, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” John 6:37 adds, “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” Matthew 19:14 says, “But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me.’”

Although we have an open invitation to come to Jesus, there are people who decline this invitation. Some feel that they need to get their lives “right” before they can come. Others feel too busy to take time to come to Jesus. Others are simply unsure of how to come to Jesus. We are able to come to Jesus in many different ways. Through prayer, fasting, reading God’s word, worship, and fellowship, we can come to Jesus. While there may still be times we have these figurative “come to Jesus moments” with others, as believers we must make sure we have literal moments of us coming to Jesus to grow deeper with Him. God has called us, He is calling us, and even for those who may be resisting the call, He will continue to call you. His desire is for us to come to know Him in a personal way, through the death of His Son on a cross.

He who intercedes 

Brazen Serpent | Devotion 3: He who intercedes
Max Sinclair

As we are wrapping up the story and life of Moses, we come to a strange story and interesting narrative. Here in Numbers chapter 21, we see the story of the bronze serpent and the children of Israel’s salvation from being killed by poisonous snakes due to their grumbling and complaining. In the ESV, it uses the word “pray” in verse number 7 when the Israelites ask Moses for help, but in the Christian Standard Bible, it uses the word “intercede.” This word struck me, as I read in preparation for this devotion, how important for us to have someone who intercedes for us. According to the Pulpit Commentary, this is the first and only time that is recorded that the Israelites asked Moses to intercede to God for them.

Now many of you, much like myself, probably did not know what that word “intercede” actually means. According to the dictionary, interceding is being the mediator between two parties, or to intervene on behalf of another. We can see why the Israelites cried out for help from Moses. Look at the rest of the book of Exodus and Numbers, and we can see time after time the Israelites complain. Time after time, God does provide, and time after time, they go back to complaining. They began to cry out to Moses and to God that their miserable lives would be so much better in bondage to the Egyptians than it would be wandering through the desert, and so God shows them His majesty and power by sending serpents into the camp. Soon enough the Israelites realize their folly and ask for someone to repent for them, they realize that at that moment they do not deserve to be forgiven, they have committed treason unto the Lord, and with that, the punishment should be death. Yet, Moses goes before the Lord and asks for His forgiveness.

This event will rattle through time to when Christ did the same for us. We sinned and have committed High Treason against the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We deserve punishment because of that, yet Christ pays the debt and intercedes for us to His Father. This can be seen in Hebrews 7:22-25, “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Consistently, Christ is going and interceding on our behalf to His Father, showing Him that once we have come to know Him as our Savior, we are covered in His righteousness.

Medical Symbol

Brazen Serpent | Devotion 2: Medical Symbol
Wes McCullough

Sometimes children fuss for no reason. Life is not exactly the way they want it. This attitude will make some parents think, “Stop crying, or I will give you something to cry about!”

It is easy for us to read the Old Testament in hindsight and understand God’s plan, but for the Israelites living it day by day, it was far from easy. God provided for and directed their journey through the desert, but it was a long and exhausting trip. Like they had done many times before, they complained about Moses and God because life was not everything they thought it should be. Like before, God saw fit to straighten them out, this time by sending snakes to bite and kill them.

Initially, I thought it odd that God would direct the Israelites to look to an object for saving. With some research, the concept became clear. Serpents were often used to represent sin. Bronze was associated with judgment because it is made by passing through fire for purification. John Wesley explains it clearly,

“This method of cure was prescribed, that it might appear to be God’s own work, and not the effect of nature or art: and that it might be an eminent type of our salvation by Christ. The serpent signified Christ, who was in the likeness of sinful flesh, though without sin, as this brazen serpent had the outward shape, but not the inward poison, of the other serpents: the pole resembled the cross upon which Christ was lifted up for our salvation: and looking up to it designed our believing in Christ.”

God was teaching the world a long time ago that salvation would not come from man’s efforts. We would have to look up and have faith in the efficacy of God’s grace.

John 3:16 is a very well known Bible verse. The verses preceding it say, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

One final note of interest: can you picture the modern medical symbol of a serpent wrapped around a post? Surely you have seen it many times and not thought of the origins of its design. Now you know. It is so cool to see all the influences biblical stories have had on our world and culture.



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