A Shadow of Calvary


Have you availed yourself of the power and mercy of Christ?


Eternal One, Your wisdom is infinite and Your timing is perfect. I bless You and trust in You.


Numbers 21:1-9


Consider:  "The Scriptures...testify about me" (John 5:39). It is amazing--but we can see it so easily in today's reading.

Think Further: 

Jesus tells us that the Old Testament Scriptures testify about him (John 5:39). They do so through both prophecy and typology. Prophecies foretold the coming of the Messiah. For example, Moses' prophecy that the Lord would raise up a prophet like him (Deut. 18:15) is understood in the New Testament as pointing to the coming of Jesus (Acts 3:22; 7:37; John 1:21). Types, on the other hand, were events that were later regarded as "shadows" (Heb. 8:5; 10:1) of the work of the coming Messiah. Today's passage is a fine example. Jesus himself uses the bronze-snake incident as a teaching model to explain the significance of his coming crucifixion (John 3:14-15).

Israel has been four decades in the wilderness. At last the time has come to advance toward the Promised Land along the King's Highway (20:17) running north from the Gulf of Aqaba ("the Red Sea," 4). But any optimism was shattered by the refusal of the king of Edom to allow Israel passage (20:14-21). The prospect of a long detour proved too much. The brittle morale of the people segued into bitter complaint against God and Moses (5). Once again, God's patience had been pushed too far. Venomous snakes invade the camp (6).

In this incident Moses points us to Christ in two ways. First, he reflects the spirit of Jesus. Like Jesus, he intercedes for those who despitefully used him and blesses those who had cursed him (1 Pet. 2:23; cf. Matt. 5:44). Second, Moses prefigures the death of Jesus. He hoists the bronze snake on a pole, and all who look at the snake live. In these two ways Moses is our example. He calls us to forgive our personal enemies and to pray for them. He urges us to lift up the Christ, who was lifted up on the cross by sharing the Good News with others.

Apply:  Have you availed yourself of the One pictured here? What does this incident tell us about mercy and repentance?


Lord Jesus, I look to You again today, my healer and my life. I stand amazed before Your mercy and power.

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