And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole (nês): and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole (nês), and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
Thou hast given a banner (nês) to them that fear thee,
that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.
Hebrew: nissı̂y = Banner, as in Yahweh Nissi (Ex 17:15, the Lord is my banner)
Here we have another form of the the Hebrew: nês = pole, sign, banner
So, we have the Lord taking on our sin on a pole ("cross" is really a stake or pole). He became sin for us. He is the substitute. He is our banner.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi: for he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
King Saul spared Agag (King of the Amalekites), but the Lord never asked him to. When God delivers, we have no business holding on to the flesh, even if we think it is for some good for the Lord. Saul did not obey the command given to him. God makes war with Amalek (the flesh, the old nature). Remember, we carry an old nature in this life, but we are called to walk according to the new nature (spirit) and according to the calling of the age in which we were called.
The Lord will make war with Amalek for the ages. The Lord will take out Amalek. The Lord will put Amalek out of remembrance. This victory is of the Lord. The Lord is the banner of protection and victory.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
When the true serpent bites (sin) all one need do is to believe the Lord and look to the brass serpent (a substitute for sin). No other requirement for that particular reward: LIFE. As in "life through his name" (John 20:30-31). Resurrection life.
These are all types and shadows.
We don't have serpents on poles today (and even if we did, they would be useless), because the reality has come. We no longer look to the types and shadows since we now have the reality. All these types (from the high priest to the lamb to the Passover meal; etc.) pointed to Christ.
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival [feast], a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ [but the body is of Christ]
Body is "sōma" in the Greek. When you see someone, you look at the person, not his shadow. You look to the reality, not to the shadow.
The comparative here is between the shadows and the reality/body. The word "however" or "but." This is a clear marker. Everything in the passage is good, but the latter is superior. Once you have the reality, once you have the superior, you no longer need the shadow.
We don't look to the serpent on the pole for our healing from our sin, we look to the reality of the Son of God crucified on a pole. In that faith, we find life.
Christ is "better" than the shadows that came before. We count his sacrifice unholy if we seek to please God apart from or in addition to that perfect offering. The word "better" is used 12 times (significant to Israel) in the Book of Hebrews including a BETTER:
- Things that accompany salvation
- Things than that of Abel
Some of those better things come by Christ alone, others come by a life of faith and sacrifice in Christ alone. But they do not come by working with and/or in shadows and they do not come by the deeds of the flesh. They are spiritual and come by the new nature (which is spirit).