Cross on Mount Nebo - where Moses was buried by God. Incorporates bronze serpent, pillar of fire, and Jesus' cross. Created by Giovanni Fantoni. The Washington Post said this site was pinpointed for a terrorist activity in 2000 by Osama Bin Laden.
Israelites leaving Egypt, painted by David Roberts. The Dutch National Museum contains a Papyrus called the Ipuwer Papyrus, an Egyptian eyewitness papyrus confirming Biblical descriptions.
Area of Saudi Arabia believed to be route of the Exodus.
Mt. Sinai - even today would be difficult to survive in this area. Much less camp with the 603,550 Children of Israel.
Max McLean Audio Bible, English Standard Version
4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 6 Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7 And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.”
So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
When you look up ancient medicine, you hear of remote remedies - mostly suffer through it and die. Sure, in archaeology we find terracotta idols placed with the dead and in fragments. Why would the Children of Israel have placed this statue (13th century BC) in safe keeping & held on to it all of those years, if it had been ineffectual? The end of the bronze serpent was c. 715 BC during the reign of the 14th King of Judah, Hezekiah. Hezekiah was the King who listened to Isaiah (Isaiah's 3rd King he advised). Today, we can still see Hezekiah's tunnels he built for water - Hezekiah is also famous for relying upon God to keep the Assyrian nation from invading. During Hezekiah's time, the people named the statue Nehushtan while making offerings to it.
Hezekiah's Tunnels today still exist and people follow them in tours. Historically it is still astonishing the Assyrian Nation did not war against, or conquer, Judah during the reign of Hezekiah.
Archaeology would also say Hezekiah's destruction of the bronze serpent would show a turning point from man's images of idol worship - healing. So I read for today's Scripture passage. Scientists say the most unusual things - you are trying to tell me in 715 BC man gave up on idols healing them. I don't think so. 715 BC was still a heavily polytheistic time.
How did people raised in the Temple of Jerusalem think about this item of historical Scripture in about 50 AD? Paul was raised in the Temple around the very tools, created in the Exodus, by people Moses put together to build them, returned by the King of the Persian Empire. Paul tells us:
1 Corinthians 10
1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes.
So how would we relate to a bronze serpent Scripture today? In the same way we relate to the Church in Corinth. We have evidence in all of our lives, God has brought us blessings. Paul relates his blessings - we can relate to - as the First Letter to the Corinthians begins; thanks to God for health, a safe journey, deliverance from danger, & good fortune. A safe journey can also mean God has brought us this far - not to drop us on our heads.
How often we feel when we are in distress - The Lord has forgotten - or it's not important to Him. So many of the things the apostles faced in our Churches exist today. So many problems we face in our beliefs, what the world teaches us, are the same questions facing the apostles - they left us a road map. We would say we are not hungry, in a desert, and being bitten by snakes. I would say we are ... a very hungry world - spiritually - with Google being kept busy looking to see if this is the end of the world. When not in distress, we see endless debates over big Christian publications. Questions, questions. We have a road map - letters written for you. About God. He wants to know You to know Him. He loves you.
Father God, we are grumblers, complainers. Thank You for Your compassion in listening to our prayers. The whole earth is Yours, yet You have placed man just a little lower than the heavenly beings and crown mankind with Your glory and honor, in Your steadfast love.
You are the LORD our God, who brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. We worship You and ask Your blessing on our food and water. You have said You will take away sickness from among us. We look to You in expectation and longing for the fulfillment of Your promise of forgiveness of sin and restoration in Your perfect healing. In the highest name of Love You have given us, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
2 Corinthians 13
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.
14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.