Q: What does “Hormah” literally mean?
A: “Devoted to destruction”.
Q: How might this be an ironic foundation for what is about to come?
A: Whereas the king of Arad was devoted to destruction because of sin, so the Israelites find themselves in a similar spiritual situation because of their own sin
Q: What was the two-fold sin committed by the people?
A: “The people spoke against God and Moses”. (v.5) This reflects the two aspects of God’s Law: our behavior toward God and our behavior toward others.
Q: How do the serpents reflect the greater work of sin in the world?
A: Every person past and present has been born into a fallen world, bitten by the fiery serpent of sin and destined to die.
Q: How do we see God’s grace at work here?
A: They deserved to die for their sin, but God provides a remedy in His love and grace.
Q: How does Moses mirror the role and work of Christ?
A: Just as Moses interceded with the Lord on behalf of the people (v.7), Christ intercedes on behalf of everyone.
But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
— Luke 23:34a
Q: How do we know for sure that the bronze serpent on the standard is a representation of Christ?
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life
— John 3:14-15
So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.
— John 8:28
Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.
— John 12:30-33
Q: Why is it significant that the serpent be made of bronze?
A: This is the metal associated with repentance of sin. All the items in the outer court of the Tabernacle where sin was atoned for were made of bronze.
Q: Why might it be important to note that the bronze serpent was not effective in Moses’ hand or perhaps on a shelf somewhere?
A: It had to be “lifted up”. In other words, Christ had to be crucified.
Q: How is this event an illustration that salvation comes exclusively by faith?
A: Salvation from the serpents came about by looking by faith where the bronze serpent was erected in the center of the camp. It had no connection in any way with the Tabernacle or the ritual sacrifices.
“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other.
I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
— Isaiah 45:22-23
Q: How does this event speak to the availability and accessibility of Christ?
A: Again, it was not erected in the Tabernacle or some hidden corner, but in the center of the camp where everyone could see it and live. Christ is never far away and available to all.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
— Revelation 22:17
Q: How does this event speak to the cost of salvation?
A: Salvation is free. It did not cost these dying sinners anything to look and live.
Q: How does this event speak to the fact that salvation through Christ is sufficient once and for all?
A: The dying were not saved by looking at the serpent AND THEN keeping the law, nor looking AND THEN bringing a sacrifice, nor looking AND THEN making come kind of promise to do better, but saved by faith alone.
Application: Christ alone is sufficient for our salvation.
Q: How does this event reveal something about how the salvation process deals with sin?
A: We are not saved a little bit at a time, but instantly and completely when the sinner looks to Christ by faith.
Q: How does this event show us that salvation through Christ is the one and only remedy for everyone?
A: There was only one way to be saved in the camp of Israel just as there is only one way today.
Application: Unless a sinner looks to Christ by faith they are lost forever.
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
— Acts 4:12
Q: How does this event show the double assurance for salvation provided by God through Christ?
A: The first assurance that was given was the Word of God; if anyone would simply look, they would live. The second assurance was that they could see others around them being rescued from death to life by faith in God’s Word.
Q: But how was this ultimately an act of faith?
A: Each person had to act on what God promised in spite of their feelings and in light of what they witnessed personally.
Q: How might this event be a testimony against the solutions manufactured by man?
A: Every remedy man has created—reformation, education, legal systems, religion—have all failed because such cannot remedy people dying in their sin. The only solution is the uplifted Savior.
Q: What would ultimately happen to the bronze serpent created by Moses?
He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan.
— 2 Kings 18:4
It became a source of idolatry wherein the created thing was given a higher priority than its creator. (Rom. 1:25) Hezekiah broke it into pieces and named it “Nehushtan”—“a piece of brass”. It is a vivid illustration of how something authentically spiritual can be institutionalized and marginalized away.
Application: This third event was a literal picture of the working of salvation through Christ on the cross.