“The bronze snake” – Jesus on the cross.
When the Edomites denied the Israelites to pass through their territory, the Israelites had to go around the Edom. Edom is Esau, the brother of Jacob, so the Israelites did not fight them. Numbers 20:14 – 21. Moses led the people back toward the red sea to go around the Edom, but the people became irritated and spoke against God and Moses. Numbers 21:4 – 5. God sent the venomous snakes from which many of the Israelites died, in the desert. People admitted their sin and asked Moses to pray to God on their behalf. Moses prayed to God, and God answered his prayer and instructed him what to do to preserve the people.
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.'” Numbers 21:8, NIV. The snake on a pole in the desert represented the “Son of Man’ “lifted” or hanged on a cross. To be hanged on the wooden pole or the wooden cross meant being hanged on a tree. Acts 10:39. Those who looked up at the snake had to believe that God will save them from death. People did not have physical contact with the snake, and nothing flowed from it to the ground. Therefore, people had to trust God.
God was informing the people that, in the fullness of time, the Lamb of God would be hanged on the cross so that all who look up to Him will have the eternal life. “Just as Moses hanged the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be hanged on the cross, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:14, NIV. Also, the Greek here means “…that all who trust him will have the eternal life in him.” Therefore, all who want to live forever must trust Jesus or have faith in Him.