Summary: God’s work of grace is conditional on the faith of his children.
Note: This sermon Outline is from the notes of Dr. Paul Garrett (1908-1997) an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene and former District Superintendent of the Dallas District Church of the Nazarene. He pastored churches in Oklahoma and Texas. Dr. Paul was a second cousin to Raymond Williams.
Lifting up the Brazen Serpent
“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.” Numbers 21:9
Introduction: If you turn to John’s gospel, you will find that its commencement contains a sort of orderly list of types taken from Holy Scripture. IT BEGINS WITH CREATION …God said, “Let there be light” – John says, in declaring that Jesus, the eternal Word, is “the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
Before close of the 1st chapter, John introduced a type supplied by Abel, for when the Baptist saw Jesus coming to Him, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” Also in the third chapter we are reminded of Jacob’s ladder, for we find our Lord declaring to Nathaniel, “HEREAFTER YE SHALL SEE HEAVEN OPEN, and the angels of God descending & ascending upon the Son of man.”
In the third chapter we come to the reminder of Israel in the wilderness, “AS MOSES LIFTED UP THE SERPENT IN THE WILDERNESS, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
I. Notice the person in mortal peril for whom the brazen serpent was made and lifted up.
“IT CAME TO PASS THAT IF A SERPENT HAD BITTEN ANY MAN, WHEN HE BEHELD THE SERPENT OF BRASS HE LIVED.”
1. Fiery serpents came because the people despised God’s way and God’s bread.
It was God’s way – He had led Moses and Aaron …. what had gone on before.
QUARRELED ABOUT GOD’S FOOD – the best they ever had.
Application: Some people today are prone to quarrel with Godf’s precepts and doctrines. But I warn you, your disobedience and presumption will lead to sin and misery.
2. The people had actually been bitten by the serpents. God sent serpents among them to bite them. The Brazen Serpents was lifted up because the people had been bitten. Only bitten people could derive benefit by a look.
SOME TODAY THINK GOD’S SALVATION IS FOR GOOD PEOPLE. Not so. His medicine is for the sick, his healing for the diseased.
The grace of God is for men who are actually and really sick. THE SERPENT OF BRASS WAS A REDEDY FOR THOSE WHO HAD BEEN BITTEN.
ILLUSTRATION: What an awful thing to be bitten by a serpent. (Reflect on the man at the Zoo who was bitten by a serpent. Relate the pain and suffering)
3. The bite of the serpent was painful. Fiery serpents heated and inflamed the blood so that every vein became a boiling river. In some men that poison inflamed their minds. They write their own damnation.
4. The bite of the serpents was mortal. The Israelites could not be in doubt. They saw their friends die, they helped bury them. They knew why they died – from the serpents venom in their veins.
Today we know that many have perished as the result of sin. “THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH.” “Sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death” “The worm dieth not”, “Weeping and wailing.”
5. There is no limit set to the stage of poisoning. A look would have saved them at any time.
II. The Remedy Provided For Them.
1. It was of divine origin. Men’s concoctions do not avail for the bite.
A simple look – how seemingly unavailing.
Shall a bite be cured by a look, a serpent?
2. Serpent on the pole was exceedingly instructive.
Jesus came forth in likeness of sinful flesh
He came under law, and sin was imputed to Him.
He came under the curse and wrath of God for our sakes.
3. In all Israel there was but one remedy.
Israel could not make another.
“THERE IS NO OTHER NAME GIVEN UNDER HEAVEN AMONG MEN WHEREBY WE MUST BE SAVED”
SINNER LOOK TO JESUS.
4. The healing serpent was bright and lustrous.
Made of brass – might have been wood but God decreed brass. Brass when taken from the mold is bright.
What a brightness there is about our Lord Jesus.
5. The remedy is an enduring one.
No use for it after Israel had entered Canaan, but as long as they were in the wilderness, it was effective.
III. Consider the Application of the Remedy.
1. He must look to the serpent of brass. Nothing else will avail.