The Serpent In The Wilderness
John 1:14 "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."
“Serpent” or “Serpents”
Forty-nine times this word [in the singular or in the plural] is found in the Bible and except here in this passage and in Numbers chapter twenty-one, is connected to something very evil or dangerous, and is in every case a reference to the Devil, to a literal snake or is connected to the “wicked”.
1. The Devil: Serpent
The first reference is found in [Genesis 3:1] “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” and the last reference to the serpent is in [Revelation 20:2] “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,”
2. The wicked: Serpent
Their lies are like the poison of a serpent. “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear.” [Psalm 58:3-4]
3. The Snake [literal]: Serpent
“He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.” [Eccl 10:8]
The most unlikely symbol to use to draw all men [who are sinners] to being healed from sin is a symbol that mimics a serpent. Let’s read:
[Numbers 21:4-9].“And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.
And Moses prayed for the people. 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. 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.” When “the people [Israel] spake against God, and against Moses”, they sinned. The judgment of God was to send fiery serpents among the people to bite the people … thus the people were poisoned and were waiting to die.
Once the people came to repentance: [We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.] then the man of God could pray for them to God. Amen! The solution, or remedy, from God was this. “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.”
Look And Live
The remedy, therefore, for a serpent’s poisonous bite was accomplished by the sinner [actively] looking on a brazen serpent on a pole. Life! Again, the antidote for the serpent’s poisonous venom, which was to bring certain death to the sinner, was to look upon the serpent of brass on the pole. Have you gotten it?
Look and live! That’s bizarre!
This to me [in my limited understanding] was the most unlikely symbol to use to draw all men, who are sinners, to life! Are not God’s ways strange? “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” [Isaiah 55:8]
Yeah, the remedy for their sin is this brazen symbol mimicking the very serpents whose bites were poisoning them to death.
Made Him To Be Sin
Now in [2 Corinthians 5:21] is the answer to the problem. [“For my thoughts are not your thoughts …”]
Here are God’s thoughts on the matter. Are you ready?
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Jesus Christ became SIN for us on the cross of Calvary.
[Matthew 27:46] “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
The Father forsook the SON. Never had this happened before, and never will happen again! God, The Father, could not look upon God, The Son, because of the transformation of His Son, Jesus Christ, into SIN … for us. In those hours on the cross before his death, his transformation [made sin] was done to the one who knew no sin.
The Father could not look upon him, [made him to be sin] yet if we sinners look upon Jesus Christ WE WILL LIVE.
LOOK AND LIVE! Amen!
“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.”
What happened in the wilderness was to point to a future event. The great salvation God has provided at the Cross [POLE] of Calvary [Hebrews chapter two]. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
The Warning of Idolatry!
Yet the symbol of salvation [the brazen serpent] became an idol generations later and had to be destroyed by Hezekiah in [2 Kings 18:4]. “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.”
Idolatry inevitably comes in time.
The Cross today has become for the multitudes … an idol. The crosses abound everywhere, in the churches, in the homes, in the dashboards of our cars, and even in the necklaces around the necks; and are worshipped, even as Israel worshipped [by burning incense to the brasen serpent].
What was once meant to be a symbol for their salvation in the wilderness had become an idol.
What is meant by the command to look and live in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross [True Salvation] has degenerated to a cross which is only a religious idol [False Salvation].