In my last post we looked at the wonderful news that God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit are One.
They won the battle of good and evil at the cross. But the question still remains “why the cross?”
Why would God choose the cross as the doorway to such a Wonderful Gift?
The answer was given by Jesus.
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness,
so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
John 3:14-15 (NIV2011)
What do Moses and snakes have to do with Jesus and the cross? In order to understand what Jesus was talking about, we need to go back and join the Israelites, on their journey to The Promised Land.
God provided for them at every turn, but they were still not satisfied. They were not interested in learning the lessons of the journey. They wanted The Promised Land now! Numbers 21:4-5 records the people became “impatient.”
Often when we are delivered from a bad situation, we are overjoyed. Part of the joy comes from our anticipation of the wonderful things that will come next.
When we keep getting farther and farther away from where we left, but the “Promised Land” is no where in sight, we often start getting impatient.
That is the very time satan will strike. He will tempt us to question whether we heard God right. Maybe we are not on the road to the Promised Land at all.
As we continue to try to connect with God and things remain the same, satan will take it up a notch and tempt us to doubt God.
Does God have a Plan for us? Is it a good plan? If it is a good plan, then why are things not working out the way we expect?
Satan continues to draw us farther and farther into his trap. He will tempt us to consider whether God is good at all. Maybe God has lured us out in the desert just to torment us for His own enjoyment. Maybe where we just left wasn’t that bad after all. Maybe we should go back.
Satan is then poised for the next step. He will tempt us to consider whether God is really there at all. Maybe He has abandoned us. Or maybe He was never there. Maybe we imagined Him.
In the deserts of our life, things get reversed in our minds and in our spirits. Bad begins to look good and good begins to look bad. God begins to look evil and satan starts to look good.
The Israelites fell prey to every temptation of satan. They defected to his army and began to criticize and accuse God.
Then a curious thing happened. God sent poisonous snakes into their midst and the snakes began to bite them. This is the point in the story where some might be tempted to say, “See, that just confirms God is bad. God is against us. He is vengeful and punishing.”
But that was not the case at all. Satan, who was identified from the beginning of the Bible as a snake, was simply unmasked by God. He and his demons were brought out into the open where they could be seen as they were — evil and poisonous.
God’s Light not only revealed to the people that satan was evil, but He also revealed the evil that had crept into their hearts.
God allowed the people to feel their powerlessness to save themselves. He directed them back to understanding that He alone was God. He alone had The Power to remove death and restore Life to them.
So Moses prayed for the people.
The LORD said to Moses,
“Make a snake, and put it on a pole.
Anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”
So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole. People looked at the bronze snake after they were bitten,
and they lived. Numbers 21:4-9 (GW)
Why would God do such a thing? Wasn’t He opposed to idols? Didn’t He say not to make any graven images? Why did He want the people to look at the symbol of satan? Most puzzling of all, why would staring at a bronze snake bring about their healing?
God wanted the people to stare at the snake and remember the agony it had brought them. It had poisoned them. It had brought pain, illness and death. It had brought grief and loss. And now it was powerless to do anything else.
In the hands of God through Moses, the snake was nothing. It was defeated. The healing of the people came not from following the ways of the snake, but in choosing to obey God.
Jesus’ Life was a study in obedience to God. Satan’s life was a study in rebellion against God.
God is good all the time. Satan is evil all the time. The cross unmasked for all to see the evil that satan could bring. But it also brightly illuminated the Joy that comes from obedience to God.
The cross should remind us that satan has been unmasked. He is out in the open challenging The Lord of The Universe. He wants to win the battle by luring us to his side.
But he is made powerless by our obedience to our Creator. When we look through the cross, we see what Jesus saw.
“For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of The Throne of God.”
He is our Gateway to the Joy of Eternity!
“I am The Gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
“I have come that they may have Life and have it to the full.”
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”