Once again the Children of Israel were taking the long way around. Upon the crossing of the Red Sea the LORD did not allow them to make a beeline for the Promised Land; instead He guided them to a desert place to regroup and spy out the land before entering. Because of their unbelief in conquering the land with God’s help, He caused them to wander in the wilderness for 40 long years until the unbelieving generation died off leaving their descendants to enter the land flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 13-14).
Moses had heard it all before; the people were once again complaining about a lack of food and water but this time they even loathed the manna from Heaven that had kept them alive throughout the previous decades. Not only were the men, women and children of the new generation grumbling against Moses for their present circumstance, they were murmuring against God, too. It was then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people. Those who were sinning in rebellion against the LORD were bitten, causing “much people of Israel” to die from the venomous bites (Numbers 21).
As the people came in repentance, confessing their sin and asking Moses to “pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us,” the LORD instructed Moses to make a serpent of brass, set it on a pole, “and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” In John 3 Jesus told Nicodemus “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus then spoke the words of the most familiar verse of Scripture, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:14-16).
Look to Jesus in Repentance of Sin