They Shall Lift Up Deadly Serpents

JMJ

Blessed Tuesday!

When I checked this passage in the interlinear Greek

These signs will accompany those who believe:
in My Name they will drive out demons,
they will speak fresh languages.
They will pick up deadly serpents
~Mark 16:17-18

…the word usually translated “pick up” jumped out at me–
the Greek is “lift up”.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
that those who believe in Him may not perish,
but may have life everlasting.
~John 3:14-15

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Esteban_March_-_Moses_and_the_Brazen_Serpent_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Jesus is referring to Numbers 21:4-9,
when the people God had freed from slavery in Egypt
complained again,
and He permitted fiery serpents to invade the camp
and bite them so that many died.
When the people begged Moses
to ask God to take the serpents away,
God told Moses to make a serpent of bronze and mount it on a pole
so that anyone bitten by a serpent
could look at the bronze serpent and be saved.
He did not take the serpents away!

Now, in the interests of full disclosure,
when Jesus says “lifted up”,
He’s using different Greek words in these two passages,
so the parallel isn’t exact,
but that just allows for a broader range of implications.

The word used when He compares Himself to the bronze serpent
means “to exalt”,
whereas the one referring to believers
carries the implication of “to take away,”
and by Hebraism, “to expiate sin”!

God didn’t take away the serpents in the desert
because the more deadly serpents of rebellion
were still lodged in their hearts.
The physical serpents were needed
to keep the spiritual serpents at bay
(note that all the complaining the Israelites did on that journey
ended with the bronze serpent).

Now that Jesus has been exalted
on the Cross
believers take away deadly serpents
physically and spiritually!

It’s called repentance and conversion–
regretting sin
by a change of heart
and rejecting it
by a change of life.

Then we don’t need
the physical serpents
anymore.

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