Moses and the Bronze Serpent – Gospel in Life

Moses and the Bronze Serpent

Tim Keller |  August 27, 1995

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  • Sin
  • Salvation
  • Jesus' Death & Resurrection
Numbers 21:4-9, John 3:12-17
RS 264-13

Numbers 21:4–9; John 3:12–15

In Numbers 21:4-9, we find the story of Moses, the Israelites, and the bronze snake. The Israelites are grumbling against God, and as a result, they are plagued with venomous snakes. God tells Moses to make a bronze snake, and those who look at it are healed. Jesus later refers to this in John 3:12-17, comparing the bronze snake to Himself being lifted up for our salvation. Nowadays, you often see this symbol in hospitals, reminding us that sin is deadly, but Christ’s sacrifice is the cure.

1. The problem

Let’s talk about sin. Think about terrible events like World War II. They show us that people aren’t always good by nature. Even the smallest sin is like a minor headache that could indicate a bigger problem. Take dating in New York City as an example. People are never satisfied because sin makes us believe nothing is good enough. This dissatisfaction started with Adam and Eve, who didn’t trust that God knew what was best for them.

2. The solution

God used the venomous snakes to show the Israelites that their sin was making them spiritually sick. He told Moses to lift a bronze snake on a pole, symbolizing God’s power to heal and give hope. This is later associated with Jesus’s death on the cross, His sacrifice for us all. The story also discusses hell, a place of unending thirst, which Jesus experienced on our behalf. It stresses that believing in God’s love is the way to salvation.



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