THE SERPENT LIFTED UP
John 3:14 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.
The Lord has not allowed this leader of the Jews to think of approaching him on the basis of miracles. John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
In John three fifteen we read that it is not by miracles but by faith! For it is “whosoever believeth,” and not ‘whosoever is excited concerning a miracle!’ Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Then the Lord begins to speak to Nicodemus concerning three “earthly things.” For he instructs this master of Israel concerning these things in order to reveal to him his inability to see the kingdom of God. And the three earthly things which he brings forth are, the birth (3:3), the wind (3:8), and a serpent (3:14).
This is the same instruction which he gives to all humans. For the created order sets forth even the “invisible things of (God)!” These things will not regenerate the heart of man, but they are such a voice as to render all mankind inexcusable for not knowing Him! Romans 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. It matters not what the word for the sun and moon is in the different languages and dialects throughout the world. They are still the glorious light-giving bodies which all men see. And they all declare his glory! And all mankind are effected by them.
And everyone who has ever lived on this planet were here by natural birth. But carnal religion with its social gospel, and not being able to understand the spiritual birth, yet striving to get men to join in with them, began to tell men they could go to heaven by simply making a decision! Did you ever know of a woman becoming pregnant by solely making a decision?
For as the female must be penetrated by the male and have his seed implanted within, so the Holy Spirit penetrates the heart of the sinner and has Christ’s character invested in him. For there can be no birth without conception! 1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
We are instructed to pray to “Our Father which art in heaven.” And no man can be a father without an offspring. And no man is a son except a father sired him. Therefore for God to be ‘our Father,’ “Ye MUST be born again!” Salvation is by a spiritual birth and not by a decision!
Then our Lord spoke to Nicodemus concerning the wind. And who on earth, in whatever country, in whatever century, has not been confronted with the presence of the wind? This was another “earthly thing” of which he spoke.
And we learn that it is the light which “scattereth” the wind. Job 38:24 By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth? And we know that the Lord Jesus IS the Light of the world and the Light of life. John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. He was the Light which the Lord God called for at the beginning of the creation of the world. Genesis 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
For the sun, moon and stars were not created until the fourth day. Genesis 1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Therefore, the Lord Jesus being the Light, and as the light “scattereth the east wind,” it was he who sent the Holy Wind of God to us! John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Mark 4:41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Then the final earthly thing which our Lord brings up is a serpent. But it is a specific serpent. He does not speak of the one in the garden which Satan used to tempt Eve. Nor of the one in Pharaoh’s court when Moses threw down his rod. But he refers to one associated with Moses, the giver of the law, which required the Israelites to simply look and be saved. Nicodemus had studied Moses and the law all his life. And the Lord wanted to direct his heart and mind to this incident of grace from God, requiring faith from those bitten by the fiery serpents.
Numbers 21:8 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.9 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. Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
One of the most amazing verses in the Bible, referring to our Lord’s taking on our humanity and standing in our place, is Romans 8:3. It states, For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: Amazing condescension! Glorious Savior! Christ Jesus likened himself to “sinful flesh.” He identifies himself to us all, while speaking to Nicodemus, with the serpent which Moses lifted up.
Yet we read in Hebrews 7:26: For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 2 Corinthians 5:21 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 serpent was lifted up on a pole for all to see. The Lord Jesus was lifted up on a cross! John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.
The same cause of their death was also the cause of their healing. A serpent bit them. A serpent had to heal them. 2 Corinthians 5:21 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.
And as it was Moses – representing the law – who lifted up the serpent, so the law causes the necessity of Christ and his supplied righteousness to be lifted up to all sinners! Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. The law made sin to be seen as “exceeding sinful” to the heart and mind of the sinner, driving him to Christ.
And as it was not the pole upon which the serpent was place which saved them, so it is not the actual implement of the cross which saves anyone. We tend to make an occult around the beams of wood the Romans used to crucify the Lord. The one who is hanged on a tree is said to be a curse! Deuteronomy 21:23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. Galatians 3:13 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 hangeth on a tree:
It is Christ, alone who saves. It is the Lamb of God who takes away sin! For it is not the wooden beams upon which He was hung, but the Person of the God-man who was hung thereon who brings salvation! John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. 5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
The Israelites even kept that brass serpent which Moses formed and made an idol out of it, like many do of the implement of the cross today. 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. (That word, Nehushtan simply means ‘the brazen thing.”)
When the Apostle Paul preached of “the cross,” he was not referring to the implement of wood, but to the doctrine of the cross – the substitution of the just for the unjust. 1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
Summing up we see that it is detrimental to ones soul to only see the Lord as one who performs miracles. That is only to see what he does. And one must see him as to who he is! He is the Light! (John 8:12) And in his identity of Light he sends the Holy Spirit. (Job 38:24; John 15:26) And the Holy Spirit is the sole originator of spiritual birth! (John 3:8) And only with spiritual birth can one either see or enter into the spiritual and eternal kingdom of God! (John 3:3,5) These are the only ones with eyes to believingly see the Lord’s Lamb lifted up as was the serpent for eternal life. John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Matthew 13:16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
For that was God on that cross, dear Heart, reconciling the world of those granted seeing eyes and hearing ears to Himself. 2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; …
Pastor Gene Breed
July 28, 2018