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Julie Ferwerda Christian Blog and Commentary

OYB March 14

  • Julie Ferwerda
    Are you ready for change in 2009? Grab a One Year Bible (NLT), commit to reading it daily, and join Julie Ferwerda on an extraordinary adventure that will transform your life as you experience its relevance in a fresh, understandable way. In addition to 20+ years in Bible teaching ministry, Julie is a professional speaker and writer. Her works have appeared in publications such as Focus on the Family, Discipleship Journal, Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Brio, and Revolve Biblezines & Devotional Bible (for teens). She's also the author of "The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love," and also the upcoming book, "One Million Arrows for God: Raising Your Children to Change the World." Learn more at www.JulieFerwerda.com.
  • 2009 Mar 13
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Today's One Year Bible Reading

The important thing to remember, as we approach the Scriptures, is the story of the 7 blind mice. The 7 blind mice stumbled across something very large in their path, and they decided to spread out and explore, and then come back with reports. Each one came back, describing something totally different: a great mountain, a rope, a spear, a giant column, a huge leaf, a snake, etc. The truth is, they were all correct, but each only had a small part of the picture. That's how I see the Bible. Not that everything we read is truth, but that many different perspectives very well could fit into the picture from a different angle. So when we learn something new from our studies here, remember that it might be just one of many angles—or it might be wrong and we need to try again. Onto a new angle of an old story.

Numbers

21:4-5 But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God... The people headed back to the Red Sea, the symbol of their unbelief. God led them away from the "land of Edom," another symbol for their spiritual enemy and captivity. Yet in that desert of "do-overs," and of testing, and learning, and hard journeying, they became impatient.

21:9 So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed! Are you surprised to discover that there's practically a whole book on this topic alone? First, understand in that culture, just like the cow god and ram god imposters, the snake is also part of the Babylonian gods system. I found evidence of at least three snake gods, two with a pole of their own, abbreviated from Wiki:

caduceusCaduceus: is typically depicted as a short herald's (messenger) staff entwined by two serpents in the form of a double helix, and sometimes surmounted by wings. As early as 1910, Dr. William Hayes Ward...suggested the symbol originated some time between 3000 and 4000 BCE (between creation and the flood and Tower of Babel). A.L. Frothingham published work in 1916, in which he suggested that the prototype of Hermes  was an "Oriental deity of Babylonian extraction" represented in his earliest form as a snake god. One Greek myth of origin of the caduceus is part of the story of Tiresias, who found two snakes copulating and killed the female with his staff. Tiresias was immediately turned into a woman, and so remained until he was able to repeat the act with the male snake seven years later. This staff later came in to the possession of the god Hermes, along with its transformative powers. Another tale suggests that Hermes (or more properly the Roman Mercury) saw two serpents entwined in mortal combat. Separating them with his wand he brought about peace between them, and as a result the wand with two serpents came to be seen as a sign of peace.

Wadjet: As the patron goddess, she was associated with the land and depicted as a snake-headed woman or a snake-usually an Egyptian cobra, poisonous snakes which were common in the region-sometimes she was depicted as a woman with two snake heads and at other times, a snake with a woman's head.

asclepiusRod of Asclepius: The rod of Asclepius is an ancient Greek symbol associated with astrology and with healing the sick through medicine. It consists of a serpent entwined around a staff. Asclepius, the son of Apollo, was a practitioner of medicine in ancient Greek mythology. The Rod of Asclepius also represents the constellation Ophiuchus, also known as Ophiuchus Serpentarius, the thirteenth sign of the sidereal zodiac. The rod of Asclepius symbolizes the healing arts by combining the serpent, which in shedding its skin is a symbol of rebirth and fertility, with the staff, a symbol of authority befitting the god of Medicine.

This IS turning into a divinity degree. Hang with me until the end of the year, and I'll be sure to send you a certificate! As I studied some bunny trails of the Greek gods, like Hermes, I couldn't help but wonder if they are truly demons.

So, how does all this correlate? Check out John 3:14-15: And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. It would appear that Jesus is comparing Himself to a snake! Here's some great commentary that I found, which started my studies in the first place:

How can we call Jesus a snake? After all, snakes in the Bible were viewed negatively. Being called a snake is an insult. Yet Jesus Himself tells us to see Him as the bronze snake that Moses lifted on a pole in the wilderness. What is He up to?

Throughout the journey to the PL, the Lord had been providing everything for His people. Yet they were still quite ungrateful. Instead of giving thanks to God, they were looking for things to complain about. Their sin had caused God to send poisonous snakes out (Julie adds: our selfish ingratitude & complaining spirit is surely a poison). Many people were bitten and died. Those still alive begged Moses to pray for their healing. Moses did, and the Lord told him to make a bronze replica of a snake and attach it to a pole. Anyone who looked at it would live.

Why a pole? So that it could be lifted up high. Many people would be able to see it. Anyone who looked at [this pole] would live while those who looked elsewhere would die.

The pole represents the Cross. When Jesus was crucified at the Cross, he was lifted up for all to see. The Bible tells us the wages of sin is death. Since Jesus has no sin, he should not have died. The only way he could experience death was to take on all our sins with him when he was at the Cross. In the wilderness, the Israelites who looked at the bronze snake were immediately healed from the effects of the snakes' poison. Likewise today when we "look" at Jesus at the Cross [and only Jesus] we will be immediately healed from all the effects of our sins.

Jesus being portrayed as a snake very well could symbolize His taking on the first sin by the first Adam, when He became sin for us. And really, when Adam and Eve believed the serpent, they were "bitten" by his poison. The fact that God chose snakes was again in defiance of the Babylonian gods, maybe even particularly Hermes, the snake god.

Luke 1:45 belief=blessed

Question for reflection:

  • Do you ever become impatient in the process of learning belief while waiting for freedom? What sorts of choices and attitudes does this bring about in your life?

  • Have you been "bitten by sin?" Have you experienced the healing that comes by looking to the Savior on the cross?

  • Do you live in an "attitude of gratitude?" I know I have to work at this continually. Sometimes I get into a cycle of negative thoughts and words, and I spread poison to all who have to be around me. This is a continual "renewal of the mind" process. We must choose to be grateful. Remember Psalms 50:13-14 (this week) "I don't need the bulls you sacrifice; I don't need the blood of goats. What I want instead is your true thanks to God; I want you to fulfill your vows to the Most High."