According to a study done by livescience.com, the number one top fear of everyone who responded was....snakes! That fear was followed by spiders, scary places, other people, heights, darkness, thunder and lightning, flying, dogs, and dentists. I can understand why the fear of snakes is the most common fear. Snakes are so unpredicatable and threatening. They slither and scoot and can go in any direction. Their bite is feared because many snakes are poisonous and so many of us cannot distinguish between the poisonous ones and the non-poisonous ones so we just fear them all.
My mother is very afraid of snakes. Her view toward them is: The only good snake is a dead snake. She always reminded me of the woman in the B.C. comic strip who would beat the snake to death if she saw it. My mother would immediately find the garden hoe if she saw a snake of any kind and chase it down and club it to death. She instilled her fear of snakes in her children so I too share that fear and do not like to even see a snake if I can avoid it. I change the channel on television if snakes come on and I refuse to go in the snake house at the zoo if we visit there.
The people of Israel were wandering in the desert after they left the bondage of Egypt and, as they often did, they began complaining about the food that God was giving them. They did not like the miracle bread called manna and began griping about its taste. I guess God did not appreciate their comments because suddenly fiery serpents began coming out from under the rocks and bit them. Some died from the bites and others began to plead with Moses to ask God to heal them. Moses did and God gave him a strange command. He was to make a copper snake and put it on a pole. Anyone who had been bitten by a snake could look at the snake on the pole and they would live. Moses obeyed God and the people looked at the snake on the pole and lived over their snakebites.
Centuries later, a man named Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night and Jesus was trying to explain how God would save all humankind. He compared the snake in the wilderness to what God would do to bring about salvation. God would lift up God's Son so that all who would look at him would be saved. Looking at God's Son hanging on the cross brought healing of soul to those who needed to receive it the most.
Today, we see the Christ hanging on the cross, through eyes of faith, and believe that he is the salvation of the world. He brings life and health to all who look for a better answer than what they can find in the world around them. "Look and live" is the message is to all who would believe and receive what God is providing to a sin sick world.