Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. The greatness of the Word of God is its integrity, by which it is without error nor deception. If contradictions arise, it is the reader’s lack of perception. So then, let it be an opportunity to gain a better insight.
The passages below are some of that which we avert, for the lack of understanding, but with a willing mind, they shall be made known.
The bronze serpent
All through Christianity, and the world in par, the serpent has been a type of enmity toward men, and men contempt through fear toward the serpent. For some, it represent danger, while for others, its slyness is the embodiment of evil. Be that as it may, the serpent isn't a dove among people of faith, therefore, it is castout.
All through the Scriptures, the mention in reference to this creature has been primarily of negative implications. It was used as a tool of Satan to deceive man in the beginning, even Satan is called that old serpent.
With these and more, the image of the serpent isn’t that which is holy, but the contrary.
However, the topic of this exposition is the bronze serpent. Taken from the fourth book of the Bible, the book of Numbers, therewith we read, the LORD said unto Moses, make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole . . . And Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole . . . those that look upon it shall, live.
So then, the question arises in the mind of the reader. What is this serpent that Moses made, and why would this creature of enmity be used as a focus of life? For the Lord said, in the beginning, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
For the understanding of many Scriptures, the reader must read the account as a whole, by understanding that which perceive the passage of interest, and that which comes thereafter. In this case, the preceding record must first be understood.
Through the exposition, we will better understand the meaning thereof, and how it relates to us today.
The time of our text is the Exodus from Egypt, by the children of Israel, from slavery to freedom.
The place of the text is from Mount Hor, to Arabah – A word meaning (burnt up) the location indicates a deep-sunken valley, or trench. Therewith, their journey continues, from the mountain, symbolic of victory, now they found themselves in the valley of depression.
How we perceive situations in life, will determine the outcome of our days in the valley to a height of success.
Before descending the path of Arabah, Israel had won a battle against the king of Arad, who Instigate a war against them. Despite being "free slaves," the Lord gives them the victory against all odds.
As they were now faced with new opposition from their surroundings, they no longer remember the testimony of their victory. Instead, like most Christians today, their focus is on the problems, rather than the solution which is God.
And the people spoke against God, and against Moses, why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread, and there is no water; and our soul hates this light bread. And Jehovah sent fiery serpents among the people; and they bit the people, and many people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:5-6)
The text reads, and Jehovah sent fiery serpents among the people.
Not as though it was the desire of the Lord, but in reality, we live in a perilous world. The protection of the Lord is our shield from the danger thereof. By faith and gratitude, we abide under the shadow of His protection. When gratitude is replaced with ungratefulness for the lack of praise, faith shall be overshadowed with unbelief. Through unbelief, the individual will backslide from God’s provision and protection, thereby exposing themselves to the danger of this world and the fiery serpents.
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 looks 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 (look at) the serpent of brass, he lived. (Numbers 21:7-9)
The question still arises, knowing the serpent is the symbol of a curse and herein it is the result of sin, so then how, or why did it serve as the focus of life to the sinners?
To further understand this is to get an insight to the core of Christianity, which is the Cross of Christ. The reason for the Cross of Christ was for the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ in place of sinful humanity. The wages of sin is death, but Christ as the Gift of God, He died on the Cross for our sins. Therewith He took the sin of the world upon Himself. He paid the penalty of sin that we may live a life without the suffering, pain and the condemnation of sin. He became a sin sacrifice that He may break the curse of sin.
Thus, it is written, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is every one that hangs on a tree. (Galatians 3:13)
Before Christ could hang on a tree (The Cross) for our sins, God instructed Moses to construct a bronze serpent, which typify the curse of sin and suffering. 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 looks upon it, he shall live. In essence, those in the wilderness who looks to the bronze serpent were looking with hope for the future Messiah.
Since it was sin that causes men to die, men must now look at the sin in which Christ has taken upon Himself that men may live. The look spoken of here is to direct one's attention in hopeful expectation to live. Such is the Cross of Christ.
Before the Cross of Christ, man looks to the future through a symbolic representation, such was the bronze serpent. Bronze typifies judgment, Christ took our judgment upon Himself on the Cross. The serpent typifies a curse, Christ became a curse on the Cross that we may be free from the penalty of the curse.
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man (Christ) be lifted up:
The lifted up here, speaks of the Cross. As He was nailed to the Cross, the debt we owed was nailed and never to be recorded against us.
He was lifted up between Heaven and Earth with His arms open, as a mediator between God and man.
For He said, if I be lifted up (The Cross) I will draw all men unto me.
In life's battle, may we lift up the Lord as our banner.
Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-Nissi, meaning the Lord is our banner.
Though He hung on the Cross as a sin sacrifice, but through sacrifice, He became life to all who will believe.
Those who came before us, they look at symbols and types representing the Cross of Christ, such as the bronze serpent on a pole. Today, may we look to Calvary Cross, the focus of where sin demand was paid. No longer we face the fiery serpents, but real are the fiery dots against our faith. Therefore, take the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
In the lyrics of G. T. Haywood, we sing:
On Cal'vry's hill of sorrow
Where sin's demands were paid,
And rays of hope for tomorrow
Across our path were laid.
I see a crimson stream of blood,
It flows from Calvary,
Its waves which reach the throne of God,
Are sweeping over me.
Today no condemnation
Abides to turn away
My soul from His salvation,
He's in my heart to stay.
When gloom and sadness whisper,
"You've sinned—no use to pray, "
I look away to Jesus,
And He tells me to say:
I see a crimson stream of blood