One thing is for sure; we will never understand who the Healer is without knowing who the destroyer is. The Lord very graphically demonstrated this to the children of Israel, and therefore, to us. Numbers 21:5 records a different time than the Deuteronomy account when the people complained against Moses saying, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Because of their sin in complaining against God’s servant, God sent venomous snakes among them. The snakes bit them and many died. “The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people” (Num. 21:7).
To LOOK at the Bronze-Serpent Destroyer Was the Same as LOOKing to Jesus Who Heals
The Lord told Moses to make a snake and put it on a pole so that anyone who was bitten could look at it and live. We know that the “. . . ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, [who] leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him” (Rev. 12:9). All the children of Israel had to do for healing was to look at the bronze serpent Moses made, and they were healed. Jesus himself told us, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).
With eternal life, or salvation, comes healing of soul and body. Jesus, the bronze serpent, overcame what the ancient serpent brought into the world—sin and disease. “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). In our looking back, He paid the price for us, just as He paid the price for those who were healed in the desert, as they looked forward.
A few years ago, a certain woman found herself viewing all the poverty and suffering in the world and was overcome by it. She asked the Lord, “Why has all this happened?”
She immediately saw herself, in her mind’s eye, in the Garden of Eden. The Lord spoke to her heart, “This was my plan.”
She realized that is why Jesus had to come, to overturn the deceiving, rebellious, spirit of satan and sin on mankind. (His name is not worth capitalizing.) She remembered what the Bible said about satan, that he was a created angel of God, and that he rebelled against God; He thought he was as good as God and should be God:
How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.—Isaiah 14:12-15
Satan was cast out of heaven, and a third of the angels followed him (see Rev. 12:4-9). He is called the “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4) and the “. . . ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Eph. 2:2). He and his demons, or evil spirits, blind the eyes of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel. Therefore, we are caught in the middle of an ever-growing spiritual battle between God and satan, until satan will be eventually hurled into the bottomless pit at the end of the age:
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore . . . .—Revelation 20:1-3
Caught Between the One Who Heals and the Destroyer
So, where does all this leave us? Caught in the middle, for a season, that is us. That means suffering, and putting up with adversity. It means fighting; it means choosing sides, whether we know we are choosing or not. Those who choose God and His ways will go to heaven to be with Jesus and his angels. Those who turn away from God and His ways are choosing satan’s ways, and will go to hell to be with him and his demons. This is true reality. Many try to rationalize away the reality of hell, even some pastors, but it is a very real place. Because hell is real, heaven is real; heaven cannot be real if hell is not real!
The Bible warns of hell repeatedly. The KJV mentions hell fifty-four times, thirty-one times in the O.T. and twenty-three times in the N.T. The NASB and NIV do not use the word hell, in the O.T., but Sheol, or the grave, as in Psalm 86:13, “Thou hast delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol” (NASB). Sheol is mentioned nine times in the book of Job alone.
Very simply, Sheol is a Hebrew word meaning the “place of the dead.” “The Hebrew Scriptures do not focus too much emphasis on the condition or destiny of the souls of men until the resurrection. The development of that theme is left for the N.T. and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
In fifteen of the twenty-three times in the N.T. hell is mentioned, Jesus himself forewarns of this reality. He says things, such as: “I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:5). Satan is taking as many as he can deceive with him, for truly he comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9:17 KJV).
All satan’s tactics accuse the saints before God both day and night (see Rev. 12:10) and cause eventual suffering, even though he presents himself as an angel of light (see 2 Cor. 11:14). Many books are written about the dilemma of being caught in the middle—each trying to explain the purpose of suffering, and why bad things happen to good people, when the bottom line is that satan is just doing his thing. We are going directly to God’s Word for insight to this dilemma, in a book of the O.T. to find what God told Job, who suffered probably more than any man of all time. He asked the same question we do:
 Spiros Zodiates, Th.D., Executive Editor, The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN, 1990) p. 1778.
 Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, p. 1779