In Numbers, the exodus sojourners were attacked by serpents. They cried out and God provided them with a way to escape:
Numbers 21:8 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. 9 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.In the Numbers incident, it was an action of God that saved them, the brazen serpent was the vehicle. The Israelites kept the brass model and eventually they began to worship it as indicated in 2 Kings 18:3-4 several hundred years later:
3 And he (Hezekiah) did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did. 4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.Hezekiah removed all the idols including the brazen serpent which became an idol. It is a good lesson for us today. When God works through various vehicles today such as people, ministries, and movements, these vehicles should be catalysts in inspiring individuals to develop a relationship and trust in the one true God. Too often the means becomes the end instead of being a means to an end. A catalyst is something that causes other things to react without itself being affected. Discipling is just that. It is a process that helps people connect to God without getting in the way.
Jesus Christ refers to the brazen serpent image with an analogy to himself:
Jesus Christ is our catalyst for reconciliation to God. He has a very unique position being seated at the right hand of God and head of the body. God has given him power and authority through the spirit to be the head of the church of God. He is the high priest. He is the way to God.John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.