Once again we find the Israelites complaining about their lack of water and about the manna ("...this miserable food!"). Manna was a sweet wafer-like substance that was provided by God...literally bread from heaven. This manna represented Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. Consider these New testament references...Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:32-35Now back to the wilderness wanderings...
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "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!" Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites 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. The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. Numbers 21:4-9
It's easy to read these passages and think, "these Israelites never learn their lesson...they're always grumbling, murmuring and complaining." We must remember that these things were written down for our learning. Many times we've been guilty of complaining about God's provision or what we consider a lack thereof. The danger is that Satan can use our complaints as an opportunity to sin.
The fiery serpents represent sin and all mankind has been injected with its poison. The brass serpent on the pole was a picture of Jesus Christ who came in the form of man and took our sin upon Himself when He gave His life on the cross.
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus himself even would concur with this assessment..."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