DAY 82 OF 365 IN 2021
Numbers 21:8 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent [of bronze] and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten will live when he looks at it.”
Just as you can listen to things and not hear anything, you can also look at things and not see anything.
“Looking to see” therefore had to be done from particular reference points: distance, perspective of the ‘looker’, an existing body of knowledge and so forth. In the anchor text for today, while it may indicate that all that was required to be saved was ‘looking up at the raised image’, a definitive kind of looking is suggested to produce those results.
First, in looking, there had to be an acknowledgement that one had been bitten. The serpents who entered the camp were venomous, so that was not the time to attempt deceiving oneself that ‘a bite was okay’ because only one outcome was guaranteed if anyone bitten did not look up – death beckoned. It is the same for an engagement with sin, which until an alternative encounter with the cross of Jesus occurs, has wages of death.
The second acknowledgement required in looking was to acknowledge what was mounted on the pole – not just the literal image, but beyond. Ultimately, this stood for a shadow of Christ being hung on the cross, so the people of Israel had to be accepting of the power and authority that came with the bronze serpent being lifted up. For while they may have appeared to be looking just at a bronze figure, they were engaging mysteries and power.
Like them, we also have to realise that Jesus stands exalted in our midst. And it is only by looking at Him: by acknowledging that indeed we are bitten, and that He has power and authority, we will live.