Only one antidote offers a 100 percent cure to those who take it.
When I was a sixth-grader at John Nevins Andrews Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland, United States, I can still remember traveling with my parents to a distribution point, where medical personnel were giving all of us small sugar cubes containing the polio vaccine. Subsequently, I never contracted polio, and the disease has virtually been eradicated in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, “polio was once one of the most feared diseases in the U.S. In the early 1950s, before polio vaccines were available, polio outbreaks caused more than 15,000 cases of paralysis each year. Following the introduction of vaccines—specifically, trivalent inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) in 1955 and trivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) in 1963 [when I got my vaccination]—the number of polio cases fell rapidly to less than 100 in the 1960s and fewer than 10 in the 1970s.”¹
On December 2, 2020, the United Kingdom was the first to approve a mass distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, and other countries soon followed. But why talk about vaccinations at all? Because we need to remember what vaccinations are.
During the past two centuries, vaccines have been the scientific fruit of the medical community ’s desperate efforts to eradicate or at least halt the advance of killer diseases. Plain and simple. Are they perfect scientific medical remedies? Probably not. But is there anything perfect on this side of heaven? Although come to think of it, one of the great Bible narratives is about a vaccination antidote that offered a 100 percent cure to those who took it.
The children of Israel are bellyaching against God and Moses (for the umpteenth time), but this time God honors their bitter complaints by withdrawing His guarding presence: “As the protecting hand of God was removed from Israel, great numbers of the people were attacked by these venomous creatures [wilderness vipers God had been shielding them from].”²
“Piercing cries” rend the night air as these once-kept-at-bay killer vipers attack the tented masses. Humbled now by their act of rebellion, the people cry out, “Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us” (Num. 21:7, NIV). At God’s direction, Moses hurriedly crafts a bronze viper and hoists it on a pole in the center of the community. God’s promise is simple: “Anyone who is bitten can look at it and live” (verse 8, NIV).
And the story concludes, “Then when anyone who was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived” (verse 9, NIV). The divine vaccination worked perfectly. Those who looked, lived— healed by faith on the spot.
Jesus reminded His midnight visitor of the story and then declared: “‘Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him’” (John 3:14, 15, NIV).
Everyone. One hundred percent of those who look by faith to the cross and their Saviour for healing are healed of the killer disease of sin.
LOOK AND LIVE
So, let’s celebrate the good news of God’s vaccine: “While we realize our helpless condition without Christ, we are not to yield to discouragement, but rely upon the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. Look and live. Jesus has pledged His word; He will save all who come unto Him. . . . Not one who trusts in His merits will be left to perish.”³
There it is again—100 percent efficacy of His vaccine. So let’s look to Jesus—and live.
² Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1890,1908), p. 429.
³ Ibid., p. 432.