Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14-15. The apocryphal Wisdom (Wisdom of Solomon 16:5-12) says "they were troubled for a small season that they might be admonished having a sign of salvation ... for he that turned himself toward it was not saved by the thing that he saw, but by Thee that art the Saviour of all." The brazen serpent typified the Son of man, in that
(1) the brazen serpent had the form without the venom of the deadly serpent; just as Jesus was "in the likeness of sinful flesh" yet "without sin" (Romans 8:3), "made sin for us" though He "knew no sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21); the brazen serpent seemed the most unlikely means of curing the serpents' bites; so the condemned One seemed most unlikely to save the condemned.
(2) The brazen serpent lifted up on the pole so as to be visible with its bright brass (which also is typical: Revelation 1:15) to the remotest Israelite answers to Jesus "evidently set forth before the eyes, crucified" (Galatians 3:1), so that "all the ends of the earth" by "looking unto" Him may "be saved" (Isaiah 45:22), "lifted up from the earth," and so "drawing all men unto Him" (John 12:32-34).
(3) The cure of the body by looking naturally typifies the cure of the soul by looking spiritually; faith is the eye of the soul turned to the Saviour (Hebrews 12:2), a look from however far off saves (Hebrews 7:25; Ephesians 2:17; Acts 2:39); the bitten Israelite, however distant, by a look was healed. The serpent form, impaled as the trophy of the conqueror, implies evil, temporal and spiritual, overcome. Wisdom (of which the serpent is the symbol) obeying God is the source of healing; as wisdom severed from God envenoms and degrades man. Moses' serpent rod was the instrument of power overcoming the magicians' serpents (Exodus 7:10-12). (See NEHUSHTAN on the worship of the relic; so the cross of Christ itself was perverted into an idol.)
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