Day 69: The bronze serpent

Numbers 21:4-9 The bronze serpent is an example of God requesting or permitting an image that pointed allegorically to the meaning of Christ’s Redemption. The bronze serpent, which appeared to resemble the serpent that symbolizes sin and evil, did not in itself affect the cure of the snakebite victims; rather, the power of God cured them. Christ took upon himself the sins of ALL PEOPLE as if he had sinned himself and hung on the Cross to save us. Hence, Christ refers to this episode with the following words: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3:14-15). (CCC 613-618, 2130)


Deuteronomy 22:13-30 While these regulations reflect a certain inequality between men and women customary in the ancient world, they represent a considerable advance in protecting the rights and dignity of women. In adultery, both the man and the woman are to be stoned; in the rape of a betrothed woman, the man would be punished by death. (CCC 2356, 2380-2381)


Psalm 102 This psalm speaks about the MYSTERY OF TIME. Human life, no matter how long one lives, is short relative to eternity. This reflection was prompted by the need to rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity of the Jewish People. Jerusalem was in ruins, its wall in rubble, its Temple destroyed, and its general infrastructure nonfunctional. People from neighboring nations had moved in and settled on the land. There was much work to be done. The psalmist knew that he would not see Jerusalem rebuilt in his lifetime, but he trusted that God would see to it that his city and his Temple would be restored to their former glory. His children and grandchildren would enjoy the fruits of the hard labor that he would barely start before his death. Even in the desolation of post-exilic Judah, there was the ultimate hope for the future, which would usher in the Messiah who would save his people. (CCC 212)

Key Event 28: Bronze Serpent (Numbers 21:4-9)

The people again lose faith and rebel, complaining about the lack of food and water (Num 21:5). In response, God sends serpents that bite the people. After the people repent, God instructs Moses to set up a bronze serpent so that all who look upon it may live (Num 21:9). Jesus interprets this event as PREFIGURING himself (TYPOLOGY!!), lifted up on the Cross so that all who believe in him may live (see Jn 3:14).

Ok so...What is the BOOK OF THE WARS OF THE LORD?? (Numbers 21:14)

WARS OF THE LORD, BOOK OF (סֵ֖פֶר מִלְחֲמֹ֣ת יְהוָ֑ה). One of the several books no longer extant (in existence) which are mentioned in the OT and which played an important, if somewhat obscure, part in Israel’s literary history. It is cited by name and quoted in Numbers 21:14f. to substantiate the narrator’s statement concerning the boundary cut by the deep ravines of the Arnon between Moab and Ammon. The quotation as it stands is obscure (the syntax is apparently incomplete and nothing is known of the names Waheb and Suphah) and sheds little light on the character of the book itself. It is a plausible conjecture, however, that vv. 17f. and 27-30 are drawn from the same source, not only because of their proximity to the first quotation, but in the case of 27-30 because of the occurrence of a number of identical place names as well as the suitability of the taunt itself for the content of the book as suggested by its title.

Evidently the book consisted of a number of victory songs written to be sung in celebration of the triumphs of Yahweh in the conquest of Canaan by Israel. That Yahweh was “a man of war” (Exod 15:3) who brought Israel victory in battle was a fact the nation loved to commemorate in song.

What is apparently another book of this type is the Book of Jashar (or “the Upright”) mentioned and quoted in Joshua 10:12f. and 2 Samuel 1:18ff. What relationship may exist between these two books (or are they the same book?) and certain other unidentified poetical quotations in the OT (e.g., Exod 15:1-18; Judg 5; LXX 3 Kings 8:53) can no longer be determined.

Questions of the date and authorship of this book remain shrouded in obscurity but it would seem naturally to derive from the heroic age, and thus to be among the most ancient of Israel’s lit.

Bibliography O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction (Eng. tr., 1966), 132ff. https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/encyclopedia-of-the-bible/Book-Wars-Lord

  • We want to focus on the fact that Numbers 21 a couple major things have happened

  • We have already heard about some of these things

  • At the beginning of Deuteronomy (umm….maybe 20 days ago?) Moses was giving a recap of all the things that have happened

  • Moses mentions that they were not allowed to go into the land of the Edomites, the descendants of Esau

  • But they were led into battle against Sihon, the King of the Amorites and Og, the King of Bashan

  • Today we get to hear that story how the people of Israel were led by the Lord into battle

  • At the beginning of Numbers 21, the people AGAIN COMPLAIN

  • “God has only led us here into the wilderness to kill us”

  • So The Lord God sends fiery serpents (man I’m already terrified of snakes. Can you IMAGINE being attacked by FIERY SNAKES? AAAUUUUGGGHHHH!!!) to bite people and they died and then what happens?

  • MOSES INTERCEDES ONCE AGAIN!!

  • Even though Moses has already heard (yesterday) that HE WILL NOT ENTER INTO THE PROMISED LAND, he CONTINUES TO INTERCEDE on their behalf

  • He CONTINUES TO BE A SHEPHERD OF THE PEOPLE

  • He CONTINUES TO BE A FATHER FOR THESE PEOPLE

  • Even though HE KNOWS HE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED INTO THE PROMISED LAND

  • Moses continues to go before God for the people

  • Moses continues to bring the Lord back to the people

  • God says, “Make a BRONZE SERPENT and as often as people look upon it, they will be healed.”

  • Jesus will say later, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up that all who look upon Him will be saved.”

  • When they cast their eyes upon the BRONZE SERPENT, they were SAVED

  • When we cast OUR EYES upon JESUS CHRIST CRUCIFIED, our Salvation is GIVEN TO US IN THIS UNIQUE AND POWERFUL WAY

  • Why would God ask Moses to make a BRONZE SERPENT?

  • The serpent was the cause of their pain and death

  • So they looked upon an IMAGE of what caused them to DIE in order to HAVE HEALING, in order to HAVE LIFE

  • Jesus on the Cross took the CURSE upon HIMSELF (Remember yesterday in Deuteronomy?)

  • The sign of OUR DEATH, the sign of OUR SIN becomes the SYMBOL OF HIS VICTORY

  • On the Cross, Jesus is CARRYING OUR SINS

  • THAT IS THE SYMBOL OF MY SIN WHEN JESUS IS ON THE CROSS

  • When we look upon Christ, METAPHORICALLY AND TRULY, we see the SIGN OF OUR SHAME, the SIGN OF OUR SIN, and it BECOMES THE SYMBOL OF OUR HOPE

  • That is what happens with the Numbers 21

  • That is what happens in Christianity

  • THE SIGN OF OUR SHAME BECOMES THE SYMBOL OF OUR HOPE

  • THE SIGN OF OUR SIN BECOMES THE SYMBOL OF OUR HOPE

  • Deuteronomy: Miscellaneous Laws

  • This is SO IMPORTANT FOR US TO UNDERSTAND

  • These people are living in a BRUTAL, VIOLENT world

  • God is giving us His Word so that it is a LITTLE LESS VIOLENT, AND A LITTLE LESS BRUTAL

  • The command is basically IF YOUR BROTHER NEEDS HELP, YOU ARE GOING TO HELP HIM

  • Another command is MEN WEAR MEN’S CLOTHES AND WOMEN WEAR WOMEN’S CLOTHES

  • Another command is to SHOW KINDNESS TO ANIMALS (except Pomeranians, they are punks 😡 JUST KIDDING since I bet at least one of you loves Pomeranians 😉 )

  • Think of the KINDNESS OF GOD HERE

  • A bird’s nest, whether it has eggs or newly hatched birds, if the mother is there, you cannot kill both the mother and the young because that would be cruel

  • You can take the eggs, but let the mother go (if you’re going to make an omelette, you’re going to have to break some eggs after all 😋)

  • Here is God who has even these small acts of kindness

  • When you build a new house, make a guardrail on your roof so you may not bring guilt upon your house should someone fall off your roof

  • Ok now for SEXUAL MORALITY

  • PLEASE KEEP THIS IN MIND

  • Up until God revealed Himself,

  • Up until Israel,

  • Up until the Jewish People, WOMEN WERE CONSIDERED SECOND CLASS CITIZENS

  • WOMEN WERE CONSIDERED LESS THAN

  • Just like children were considered to be LESS THAN

  • Ever since the first chapter of Genesis, GOD MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE IN HIS OWN IMAGE AND LIKENESS

  • BOTH OF THEM

  • MALE AND FEMALE

  • This adds EQUALITY AND DIGNITY even if there is INEQUALITY when it comes to circumstances

  • This is God leading a BRUTAL and VICIOUS people in a world where men and women were NOT CONSIDERED TO BE EQUAL

  • Remember in the conquest of another city (Except Canaan, remember?) they do not take the woman as a SLAVE or a PROSTITUTE

  • THEY TAKE HER AS A WIFE

  • Of course, they may be TEMPTED to make her a SLAVE OR PROSTITUTE

  • BUT NO NO NO

  • They must CARE FOR HER and LET HER BE YOUR WIFE

  • We might be bothered by all this

  • BUT REMEMBER!!!

  • God is moving a BRUTAL AND VICIOUS PEOPLE and making them LESS BRUTAL AND VICIOUS

  • This did NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT

  • God is moving this people from GREAT INEQUALITY to a place of GREATER EQUALITY

  • A man may try to accuse a woman he just married of NOT BEING A VIRGIN

  • HE HAS TO PROVE THIS

  • Or else, he is falsely bringing SHAME upon this woman

  • THIS IS NOT ALLOWED

  • Remember Genesis 3?

  • Men and woman from now on are going to be BROKEN

  • They are going to try and DOMINATE EACH OTHER

  • They are going to try and MANIPULATE EACH OTHER

  • God, through Moses, is telling the Israelites, “Yup, that is the case”

  • Remember, Moses has lived with this people for the last 40 years in the wilderness

  • He knows their hearts

  • Moses has seen it happen where a man marries a woman and then he DETESTS her

  • He marries a woman and then he wants to put her away

  • YOU MAY NOT DO THAT WITHOUT REALLY GOOD CAUSE

  • The woman might do something wrong

  • The man might do something wrong

  • THE WOMAN IS NOT DISPOSABLE

  • In a world in which women were once considered disposable, GOD’S LAW SAYS SHE IS NOT DISPOSABLE

  • Genesis 1 & 2: God created MALE AND FEMALE, IN HIS IMAGE, BOTH EQUAL IN DIGNITY, BOTH EQUAL IN GOODNESS, BOTH EQUAL IN BEING MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE AND LIKENESS

  • God’s law makes this BRUTAL AND VICIOUS WORLD a bit LESS BRUTAL AND VICIOUS, and A LOT MORE JUST

  • SHE IS NOT DISPOSABLE

  • YOU ARE NOT DISPOSABLE EITHER!!!

  • Some of these Laws are challenging for us

  • One of the things these Laws are trying to affirm, is that YOU MATTER

  • You who may be a single man or a single woman

  • You may be a married man or a married woman

  • You may be a widow or a widower

  • You may be a child

  • YOU MATTER!!

  • Think about later on, Jesus is going to say, “Consider the sparrows that you are worth more than many sparrows. Not one of them falls to the ground without your Father knowing it (and caring about it). And you are worth more than that.”

  • All of these Laws are being given to a people in a very difficult situation to make it MORE JUST

  • It is to remind them that THEY MATTER

  • Therefore, how they treat each other MATTERS

  • THEY BELONG TO GOD, MALE AND FEMALE, YOUNG AND OLD, ADULT AND CHILD, STRANGER AND CITIZEN

  • So we are reminded of that as well

  • Move forward knowing this

  • If my life MATTERS, I need to live it like it MATTERS

  • For other people around me if their lives MATTER then I need to treat them like THEY MATTER

  • Deuteronomy 22: There are so many sensitive topics the Bible deals with

  • It doesn’t necessarily give us a warning that HEY, BY THE WAY, HERE COMES A SENSITIVE TOPIC!!

  • Deuteronomy 22:23 Here is a woman, a betrothed virgin and a man meets her and lies with her, BOTH OF THEM ARE STONED

  • They are committing adultery with each other

  • Both are guilty

  • But there is an AMENDMENT if she is ATTACKED AND RAPED

  • If she is being ATTACKED in the city, she should cry out for help

  • This is why this is so sensitive

  • We know the REALITY OF RAPE

  • It’s not always this clear, cut, and dry

  • There isn’t always someone to cry out for help to

  • Remember the CONTEXT that Deuteronomy is written in

  • These are people LIVING IN TENTS AMONGST EACH OTHER

  • THERE IS VIRTUALLY NO PRIVACY unless someone wants privacy

  • Is this perfect?

  • Absolutely not!

  • What it is trying to say is that if this was not agreed upon her, if he forced himself upon her, she should cry out for help

  • So many of you reading this will say “My experience was I tried calling out for help and no help came”, “I didn’t cry out for help,” or “I didn’t even know, I was so scared that I didn’t cry out for help.”

  • SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN IN THIS SITUATION

  • What the Bible is trying to do here is make a distinction between CONSENSUAL SEX versus RAPE

  • That is one of the reason that it goes on to say that if this happens OUTSIDE OF THE CITY, and it is a rape, ONLY THE MAN SHALL DIE

  • WHY?

  • Because most likely, she would have cried out for help, and there was no one to come to her aid

  • It is trying to make a distinction between PROMISCUITY and RAPE

  • Is it PERFECT?

  • NO

  • Is it an attempt to have JUSTICE?

  • YES

  • Is it an attempt to DEFEND WOMEN WHO ARE BEING WRONGFULLY ASSAULTED AND ATTACKED?

  • YES!

  • That is what is at the heart of this Law in Deuteronomy today

  • For the GOOD OF THE WOMAN

  • The justice of when people agree to fall into sin, NOT WHEN THEY ARE ATTACKED

  • I hope that makes sense

  • Pray to God about this if you are struggling

  • If that is you, and that has been your experience, PLEASE KNOW YOU ARE WORTH SO MUCH

  • YOU ARE WORTH THE DEATH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

  • YOU ARE WORTHY IN GOD’S EYES

  • GOD LOVES YOU SO MUCH

  • YOU ARE NOT DISQUALIFIED FROM HIS LOVE

  • YOU ARE NOT USED UP

  • YOU ARE WORTHY

  • YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL

  • THE LORD TAKES UP OUR ASHES AND HE REPLACES OUR ASHES WITH JEWELS

  • THE LORD JESUS CAN RESTORE EVERYTHING

  • If something horrible has happened, or you have been assaulted, or even if you have fallen into sin on your own, HAND IT OVER TO THE LORD

  • THE LORD CAN MAKE US NEW

  • KNOW THAT HE LOVES YOU

  • KNOW THAT HE BELIEVES AND DECLARES THAT YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE, REAL LOVE

  • WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED TO YOU OR TO ANYONE

  • That is part of the message

  • Pray for each other

  • Pray for Fr. Mike

  • Lift each other up always


Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and we thank you. We thank you for your Word. We thank you for loving us. We thank you for choosing us. We thank you for showing us your heart, the heart of a father who loves his children. In the midst of this day, Lord, we call out to your name we all upon your name and we ask you, Father, to send us your Holy Spirit in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. As you receive our thanks and as you receive our praise in Jesus’ name, we ask you also to send out your Holy Spirit upon us in Jesus’ name. Amen.”