Jesus Lifted Up

Pat Dirrim   -  

This year the students are studying through the OT during our time together at WIRED.  Each week we are taking a look at one book, or as the New Testament believers would have said, “scroll.” In fact, during the time of Christ the OT was the sum total of what the people had while the NT was being written by the contemporaries of Jesus.

Today, many Christians view the OT as obsolete, out of touch, or as representing a God who is quite different than the God found in the NT.  The reality is that none of that is true! The OT is the beginning of God’s revelation of Himself to His people which culminates in Jesus Christ as revealed to us in the NT.

The OT is replete with hints, shadows, figures and ceremonies that point towards Jesus – He can be seen all throughout the OT. In fact, on the road walking to Emmaus with two men, Luke says that Jesus “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, interpreted to them in all the Scriptures [the OT] the things concerning Himself” (Lk 24:27).

The OT is replete with hints, shadows, figures and ceremonies that point towards Jesus – He can be seen all throughout the OT.

This past week the students looked at the book of Numbers which has many hints and foreshadows of Christ. Perhaps the most poignant one is found in Numbers 21:1-9. This passage finds the Israelites in the midst of their 40 years of wandering for having doubted that God could have enabled them to drive out the giants from the Promised Land.

During their wandering here they became impatient and spoke out against God and Moses asking them if they had been brought out of Egypt to simply die starving and thirsty (Num 21:4-5). In response to their sinfulness, God sent ‘fiery serpents’ among the people who bit them causing many of them to die.

Yet, in the midst of His judgment against His people, God also provided a way to preserve a remnant. He did so by telling Moses to fashion a bronze serpent, to fasten it to a pike and to lift it up high.  All those who looked upon the lifted-up serpent would be saved and delivered from God’s wrath (Num 21:9).  And that is the end of the episode in Numbers.

What is amazing is that Jesus directly linked Himself to this episode in John when He said, ‘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’ (Jn 3:13-15).

On its own, the fiery serpent account in Numbers seems slightly odd. But, through the lens of the NT, we can see that not only was God providing deliverance for His people back then from the poison of the snake bites, but He was also foreshadowing His glorious Son who, through His crushing of the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15), would provide deliverance for all who would look to Him!

This is but one episode in the OT that points towards our all-satisfying Savior. Lord willing, as the students continue on in this study throughout the year, we all will come to treasure Him more and see His entire revelation – both the OT and the NT – as worthy of our study and consideration.

Photo credit: John Romano D’Orazio