Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1) — Look and Live!
This week’s Torah Portion is replete with moments and illustrations worthy of being discussed for a number of portions. However, this week’s portion will focus on 21:4-9 for two primary reasons. The first is strictly sentimental but utterly poignant. This passage was one of my dad’s favorites and he passed away on July 4, 2000. He preached from this passage whenever he went to a new church, and I cannot tell you the number of people who became truly a believer in Messiah Jesus as a result of this sermon. The second is due to its prophetic significance to the life of Christ (John 3:14-15). And so, I will borrow from my dad’s sermon to illustrate this Messianic significance.
Jesus referenced this account in his night encounter with Nicodemus. He noted that as Moses lifted up the serpent, the Son of Man would be lifted up as well. Jesus drew Nicodemus’ attention to the reality that Moses’ act of placing the brass serpent on the pole was to draw the people to the fact that they were incapable of saving themselves.
Jesus wanted Nicodemus to realize that some other action must be done because a person’s good works could not do it … Nicodemus was a very good man! The command to look upon the brass serpent symbolizes the reality that while many people love Jesus’ teachings it takes more than that for eternal life (John 3:15). As the people in the wilderness had to look to (at) the serpent, we must look to only one person for our salvation, Jesus of Nazareth. And in modern times, playing church (i.e., playing around the reality of the cross) will not do it. Looking to our hope (Messiah Jesus) is the only way we can receive our hope of life.
Thank you for this opportunity to remember one of my dad’s most favorite of sermons. But most of all, remember the words of the old hymn – look to Jesus and live. Shalom. God bless.