June 12, 2011

That Old Serpent

Today I was reading about types of Christ, and came across one that actually disturbed me. As I thought about the brazen serpent raised by Moses as a symbol of Christ I was confused by the serpent aspect of that symbol.  It bothered me enough to do a little research about why a serpent (that more often than not represents the devil)

would in this instance represent Christ.

One author placed emphases on the raising up of the serpent, and suggested we more or less ignore the "serpent-ness" of the symbol and focus on the lifting up of the serpent and of Christ, that in both instances brought healing.

Still, Moses could have chosen anything . . . why did he raise up a snake, when snakes were the cause of the whole problem (both physically, in that instance and in a sense, spiritually as well, leading to the death and fall of Adam and Eve and the whole human family)?

I'm sure there are many facets to this symbol, but as I continued to consider this story I was struck by the beauty of a side I had not seen before. Perhaps part of the raising up of the serpent was to illustrate in a very vibrant way how Christ overcomes all things; that literally whatever it is we're facing right now, Christ is in that, and is above it.  God uses the very circumstances, things, lessons, people that have hurt us, through the Atonement, to help us.  The snake is Christ - it loses its ability to hurt, to kill, and gains the ability to heal, to sanctify. The evil overwhelmed by good. "All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for they good." (D&C 122:7)


  1. I can't remember if I read this somewhere or just thought it up myself, but another aspect to this may be that Satan appeared as a serpent in the Garden of Eden on purpose to help deceive Eve, because the serpent had some connection with Christ.

    Also, the serpent sheds its skin regularly and continually, signifying rebirth and change. Isn't the serpent also part of the medical logo?

    Thanks for you thoughts and comments about what I have thought of as strange imagery as well.

  2. Interesting - I'll have to study it more. I like your connection with the rebirth and change. That adds another element to it.