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The Meaning Behind the Bronze Serpent

Moses was told by God to make a bronze serpent and lift it up on a pole so that when snakes bit the people they would look to the bronze serpent and live.

Bronze is an alloy about 90% copper and 10% tin. Starting out with added arsenic, as it is heated in the furnace, the fumes become toxic. When the furnace reaches a certain heat, it becomes a completely different material. The copper and tin can never be separated again, and bronze is a material which can’t be found naturally.

Jesus said, in talking to Nicodemus, that just as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent, so the son of man must be lifted up. He was talking of the cross. ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must the son of man be lifted up that whosoever believes may have eternal life’ (John 3:14).

Bronze is a mixture of two things that can’t now be separated, copper and tin. Copper represents Jesus as the divine Son of God, but by itself that’s not enough. Tin represents Jesus as the son of man, who became sin for us.

Arsenic is a poison and it kills. Jesus became sin. Sin kills, (the wages of sin is death).

As Jesus became sin, He cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!”

When we’re born again, in the way that Jesus told Nicodemus we must be born again, we’re ‘in Christ’, and no longer just a human being. We’re born again of the Spirit of God, never to be separated again, and having eternal life. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Jesus was a human being who was truly God, but also truly man. Jesus had to endure the furnace of affliction in the cross, and from that moment something changed forever as the ‘copper’ and the ‘tin’ came together. Something eternal happened, symbolised by bronze. When men look to the cross they no longer die as a result of the snake bite of sin.

The two parts are inseparable. He gave us the right to become sons of God only through the finished work of the cross. How absolutely amazing this truth is in your life and mine today!

If you’d been alive in Moses’ day and were bitten by one of these venomous snakes, can you imagine you wouldn’t have looked at the bronze serpent on the pole in order to live?

How sad, then, that today people get bitten by the snake of sin and don’t look to the cross of Jesus for forgiveness and eternal life.

Prayer: I thank You, Jesus, that You were lifted up on the cross for me. I thank You for the forgiveness of my sins and placing me in an inseparable relationship with You as a son of God. I pray today for those in my family and friends who don’t look to Your cross for salvation. Please draw them to Yourself. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 

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Scripture

So Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole and if anyone was bitten, if he looked at the bronze serpent he would be healed
Numbers 21:9, NIV

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Today's Writer

Jill Southern-Jones is the founder of Ellel Ministries Pierrepont and directed the work for 21 years. She has recently stood down from that role but still teaches on the NETS programme and has the passion to train and equip God's people to fully walk in their destiny and calling. She is the Regional Director for Ellel Ministries International in South East Asia and China and is also on the Executive Leadership of the ministry.

Jill Southern-Jones


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