Nearly forty years had passed since God gave His law from Mount Sinai; and frequently the people had sinned during that time. Through their disobedience they were compelled to wander in the wilderness for many long years, instead of going straight to Canaan. While thus wandering they passed round the land of Edom, and became grieved and impatient because of the dreariness and difficulty of the way. They murmured against God and against Moses, and said, "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." They meant the manna which God gave them daily.
God allowed fiery serpents to come among the people because of their sin, which bit them, and many died. Then they came to Moses, saying, "We have sinned ... pray unto the Lord that He take away the serpents from us." Moses did so; and God told him to make a serpent of brass and to put it on a pole; and said that all who looked to the serpent should live. The serpent of brass could not heal them, but God healed them as they obeyed his command to look to the serpent. It was look and live.
Now I think we see what Jesus means. God has said that all must die because of sin; but those who look to Jesus and trust in Him will have their sins pardoned, and will live with Him in glory forever.
[Illustration: THE BRAZEN SERPENT.]