Summary: Part 2 of a series on Old Testament parallels of New Testament salvation. This message compares how the brass serpent made by Moses parallels the redeeming grace of Christ’s crucifixion.
Old Testament Parallels of New Testament Salvation — Part 2
The Fiery Serpent—Death and Deliverance
Other Ref: All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible, Lockyer
The Bible Knowledge Commentary
a. Last week we learned how Noah’s Ark was an ark of deliverance for Noah’s family and how it closely paralleled the deliverance Christ offers us.
b. Today we are going to look at the fiery serpent fashioned by Moses’ hand and how it parallels Christ’s crucifixion and resulting salvation.
c. Our need for a Savior today is as great as it was in New Testament times, and as great as it was in Old Testament times when Moses, at God’s command, made a fiery serpent of brass to save the Israelites.
d. Chuck Swindoll in The Grace Awakening put it like this:
If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness,
So God sent us a Savior!
a. The Cause
(1) While wandering through the land of Edom, the Israelites yielded to a twofold sin.
(1) Their journey had been arduous. In addition to all the dangers and hardships they had experienced, they were discouraged because they were aware they were turning their backs on Canaan rather than going directly into it.
(2) Their intermittent disobedience since having left Egypt had resulted in a delayed, zigzag journey, and they were angry and depressed at being subjected to such a wait.
(1) They detested their unchanging, divine provision.
(2) They complained about the scarcity of water and the monotony of the food they had to eat daily.
(3) The language they used against God and against Moses was insolent.
(4) Read Numbers 21:5—
(5) How ungrateful! This “miserable” food of which they complained had sustained them for nearly 40 years.
b. The Devastation
(1) Their cry was this—Read Exodus 16:3—The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
(2) As rapidly as they voiced this wish, many of them died in the wilderness.
(3) Read Numbers 21:6.
(4) Though the area of the desert where the Israelites were located was the home of various poisonous snakes, the sheer number of them attacking the people at once was a miraculous act of the Creator.
c. The Recognition
(1) The death and pain delivered by the snakes made the Israelites recognize their sin.
(2) They did an about face. After having spoken against Moses they then begged him to pray for them.
(3) Read Numbers 21:7.
(4) The Israelites had hurt God’s heart and in their own pain and suffering they saw the evil of their hearts. Thus, they became remorseful and with their remorse came their reward.
3. The Comparison
a. The Cure
(1) Moses had hardly closed his mouth after praying for the Israelites and God answered his prayer.
(2) Read Numbers 21:8-9
(3) Why was God’s solution a serpent of brass?
(a) It was the image of the same thing that had brought so much death into their camp.
(1) OT—Just as the serpent had brought death and destruction to the Israelites, the image of the serpent brought them salvation.
(2) NT—Just as man had brought death and destruction on himself through his sinful ways, God, in the image of man, provided salvation through His son.
(b) It was displayed for all to see as the channel through which forgiving grace would be granted to those who had so grievously sinned against God.
(1) OT—The brass serpent, the object of the Israelites salvation, was displayed on a pole, or a standard, so all might see it.
(2) The word translated pole or standard is the same occurring in Exodus 17:15 that is translated Jehovah-nissi—“Jehovah is my standard or banner.”
(3) NT—Christ, the object of our salvation, was displayed on a cross so all might see Him.
b. The Condition
(1) God could simply have cured them all, however He required actions on their part.
(2) Evaluate the required actions.
(a) Old Testament
(1) They had to look at the raised brass serpent—not their wounds, not the dying about them, not at Moses, but at the raised serpent.
(2) If the afflicted did not look, they died.