“Christ was conformed to the image of the serpent that we might be conformed to the image of Christ.” — Jen Wilkin
In her talk at TGCW22, Jen Wilkin teaches about the significance of the serpent on the pole as referenced in Numbers 21. In this Old Testament passage, Wilkin explains, the serpents point back to Egypt and the severity of the punishment from God in the 10 plagues. It’s a reminder to the people of Israel at the time not to harden their hearts in disobedience. The Israelites repent, and God provides a way of healing. Moses then holds up a bronze serpent on a pole (foreshadowing and representing Christ on the cross) and God’s people have a chance to look and live.
“It is the same for us today,” says Wilkin. “All that is required of us for salvation is to look on Christ and believe.”
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Well, here we are, we are going to be a Numbers chapter 21. And I hope you are ready because I have been thinking about this for quite some time. And I need to get this out of my head. So Numbers chapter 21, we find a story that you’ve probably heard before, but you may not have spent a lot of time thinking about, I’m going to cover a total of five verses today, which is not my usual thing. And so I am going to take us to several other passages in the Scripture so that we can see exactly how beautiful this story is. But in Numbers chapter 21, we have a story that I remember from when I was in vacation Bible school, I have this distinct memory, of being responsible for putting all the little tiny serpents up onto the board, to bite the Israelites and feeling pretty great about it. And so we get to now take an opportunity to spend a significant amount of time looking at the story of the bronze serpent, are you there Numbers chapter 21. Okay, starting in verse four, says, From Mount Hor, they set out by way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. Now, let me just stop in this get situated in the story. So do you see how I said we only had five verses, and I only made it through one. So it is actually shaping up to be pretty typical. When we, when we’re in the book of Numbers, what we can know is that we are at the end and chapter numbers, Numbers, chapter 21, were at the end of the 40 years in the wilderness, okay. And so the people who are in view in this part of the story are the people who are the next generation that is going to go into the Promised Land. And so that’s where we find ourselves. And here they are actually, in view of the promised land. They have been camped at Kadesh Barnea for quite some time. And now there is a very short journey that would take them into the Promised Land, except that the people of Edom tell them that they must go around. And what will end up happening is that the journey into the promised land will end up taking much longer than they are expecting, and it will be filled with battles, and it will be filled with hardships. And guess what it will also be filled with grumbling. They set out by way to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way they’re like children on a very long car trip saying, Are we there yet? That’s right. And you can’t blame them really. Except that I think we’re going to pretty hard. Verse five. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness for there is no food and no water, and we load this worthless? What? Food? Interesting. There is no food and no water, and we load this worthless food. See, guys, it sounds to me like there might actually be food. Oh, that’s right. We know there’s food. Why? Because for 40 years, God has fed them on manna from heaven. He has sustained them in a place that offered no sustenance by his miraculous power. And so the complaining that is happening here is hyperbolic. They don’t like the food that they have, what food do they want, they want the food that is back in Egypt. So even though they are 40 years removed from those who said that there were giants in the land, and did not trust in God’s provision, still we find them in the same place as those who came before them. Can God be trusted? There is no food and no water and we load this worthless food. Then the Lord said fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people so that many people of Israel died. Whoa, that’s weird. Hang on. And the people came to Moses and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you pray to the Lord that He will take away the serpents from us. So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole and everyone who is bitten when he sees it shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. It’s at this point that I need to tell you that I have absolutely no credibility with my immediate family on the subject of snakes. I grew up in Texas. I have lived there since I was three and a half years old. In Texas. There are four kinds of venomous snakes. There are copperheads there are coral snakes, there are rattlesnakes and there are cotton mouths. cotton mills are also known as Does anyone know water moccasins? It’s a water moccasin. And I know things as a child who grew up in Texas we used to go to the lake in the summers. Lakes in Texas are not places where you want to swim there where you dump a body they are opaque like you cannot see. And so we would sit on the end of the doc and dangle our feet into the water and watch the cotton mouth the the water moccasins slither by in the water and pick our feet up to let them go by I know the difference between a coral snake and a king snake they look exactly alike. Unless you know red on black friend to Jack red on yellow kills a fellow. That’s how you know based on their stripes. So I know some things about snakes. I have lived my whole life in a very sneaky place. There is a thing that takes place in Texas every year called The rattlesnake Roundup, and they go around and they scare all of the Rattlesnakes out of the nooks and crannies and they put them into a corral I am not kidding you. And then they fry them up and tell you that they taste like chicken. I know some things about snakes, guys. And every October my family goes and takes a vacation in the hill country, the Texas Hill Country. And there’s a lovely river that runs by the rivers about this deep in front of the cabin that we stay in. And so I sit in the river, my little chair with my book and my feet in the water and I read my book. And this was a long time ago, my kids were still fairly young. My son Matt was in middle school, and I’m sitting reading my book in the stream having the most wonderful day of all and the rest of the family is down the river doing whatever they wanted to do, leaving me to my quiet book. And as I’m sitting in the chair facing down river, I feel something nudged my leg and I lift up my feet and between my feet, comes a water moccasin. bumped right into the back of my leg. I’m freaking out, right? He swims over to the side, I jump up and I’m like, Oh my gosh, a water moccasin water moccasin. And here comes my son Matt. And he’s like what happened? And I go, a water moccasin just swam underneath my chair bumped me in the leg and swam over there. And he goes, whoa. And then he goes, How do you know it was a water moccasin? I am your mother. So I’m like, I know a water Montes and I’m like it’s in so then I point in the general direction and there is the watermark isn’t he sees it with his own eyes. Okay, it is an important part of the story. Because when the rest of the family come back one by one down the river and I tell them exactly what happened. What do you think each of them says to me? How did you know it was a water moccasin? Every single one of them a prophet in her own town has no honor. And not welcome did not back me up. That kid. I don’t usually call a child out by name on a simulcast. It’s going out to 30 billion people. But today is his day. And here we find ourselves in an Old Testament story that is slithering with serpents. And we should ask with the great theologian, Indiana Jones. Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes? Why did it have to be snakes? It’s actually the right question to ask on two levels. Why did God sends snakes specifically? And what is the deal with a snake on a pole? Like that’s weird, right? You get that? So let’s see if we can answer those questions. Why does God send snakes specifically? Well, interestingly, Indiana Jones his famous line is spoken as he looks into an Egyptian tomb in Cairo. And snakes were common in ancient Egypt. There are 30 separate 37 different types of snakes that are noted in the papaya tree and if you’ve ever looked at hieroglyphics you see that there are snakes frequently figured into them. In the old papaya tree, there are descriptions of amulets that were made to protect children from snakebite. Seven venomous species at least are identified as having lived in ancient Egypt. In fact, Cleopatra if you’re familiar with her story, when she finds out that Mark Antony has been killed, the folklore is that she took a venomous ask and she clutched it to her chest and it struck her and she died. But here’s the thing with snake bites, the ones that do kill you, they don’t do so instantly, but slowly and painfully, and that will be an apt metaphor for our story.
And the placement of the serpent on the pole story is significant, because it is a grumbling book and to a time in the wilderness that opened with a grumbling book and you got to hear Pastor John talk about part of the opening, grumbling book in the talk that he gave this morning. And in the part that he talked about, they were grumbling, because they did not have water, and then God strikes the rock. But in the two chapters before that, we have sort of a another grouping that is part of that of grumbling. And it’s important to our understanding of what is going on here in Numbers, chapter 21. If you will turn to Exodus 15. And what you’ll see is you have the episode at Mara, and then you have when they go into the wilderness of scene, and at Mara, the water is bitter. And so God makes the water sweet, they throw a log in the water and it miraculously turns sweet, and then they immediately head into the wilderness have seen where they grumble that they don’t have food, and God reigns down Manna and quail on them, it is the beginning of their food that is going to sustain them through the entire 40 years. And so we can’t understand this closing, grumbling scene that we have in numbers 21 Until we relate it to this opening, grumbling scene that we see that begins in Exodus chapter 15. And look at verses 25 and 26. It says this, there the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. He said, If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands, and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you. Oh, my goodness, isn’t that fascinating? Here’s Stan’s Israel, fresh out of the 10 plagues, like they have, they have left Egypt in memorable history for them only a few weeks prior. And here they are in the wilderness, wondering if God will provide and one of the fears that God addresses here is, I will not do to you what I did to Egypt? Don’t you think that as you watch the 10 plagues play out even as the children of God, you’re wondering if God can do that to them? Won’t he also possibly do that to me? And what does God say? He says, if you will pay attention, if you will obey my commands, if you will keep all of my decrees I will not do to you, as I have done to Egypt, and what was the purpose of the plagues that were sent on Egypt? It was God’s divine judgment that all would know he was exactly who he said he was. So he says, If you do not disobey, I will not send the plagues upon you. And here we find them a generation later. And what has happened. God sends a plague of snakes, on his own people to recall them to their senses. A plague of snakes on his own people to recall them to their senses. But why snakes? He could have sent a plague of scorpions, or he could have sent a plague of like really nasty mice like he could have chosen anything. That was a joke guys, nasty mice. Picture it. Why is it snakes that he sends? Well, I told you that snakes were a big thing in Egypt. And what I think is going on here, if you remember in Exodus, chapter four, you know, Moses has his staff and he’s complaining to God that he is not the man to go in and get the job done. You remember that story? And what does God say? He says, What’s that in your hand? And I love that. God knows what it is right? And the staff is a symbol of Moses authority has divine authority from God and Gods it’s a Moses, his it was a staff and then what does God tell him to do? He says, throw it on the ground, and he throws it on the ground and what does it turn into a serpent? That’s right, it turns into a serpent and what does Moses do? He runs away, smart guy. And I don’t think anybody said to him, are you sure that was a water moccasin? So he runs away, and then God says Pick it up by the tail and when he picks it up by the tail, what happens it turns back into a staff and he says, You’re gonna go in you’re gonna do this before Pharaoh, but again, Why a snake? Why a snake? Do you know in the Old Testament, throughout the Old Testament Leviathan is mentioned? Ezekiel 29 Three listen to how Leviathan the great sea serpent is connected, so to speak, and say Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lies in the midst of his streams that says, My Nile is my own, I made it for myself, who is the great sea serpent it is, Pharaoh, Ezekiel 32, to Son of Man raise a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him, you consider yourself a lion of the nations but you are like a dragon in the seas you burst forth in your rivers, troubled waters with your feet, and, and foul their rivers. Psalm 74/13 and 14th. You Lord divided the sea by your mind, you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters, you crushed the heads of Leviathan, you gave him his food for the creatures of the wilderness. Isaiah 27 one in that day, the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan that the fleeing serpents, Leviathan, the twisting serpent, and he will say that he will slay the dragon that is in the sea. In the Old Testament, in the Hebrew imagination, the serpent and Pharaoh are equivalents. The serpent and Pharaoh are equivalents. I know what you’re thinking you’re like, but I know the serpent story. The serpent story is in Genesis chapter three. And yes, we’re gonna get there in just a second. But think also about what happens with the Hebrew midwives in Exodus chapter one. They stand before Pharaoh, and they do not fear him instead, they fear Yawei. And in Genesis chapter three, which we will get to in just a moment, what did we see we see that God is going to place enmity between the woman and the serpent, right? And we actually see that playing out in the scene of the Hebrew midwives. Do you know why are you familiar at all with what a pharaoh wore when he was all dressed up for courts? What was he wearing on his head? A headdress that has what? Yeah, I see. You know, you had a cobra right in the middle of his headdress, and you know why that is that is Wadjet wa DJET, the protector Goddess of Pharaoh, and also the goddess who protects women in childbirth, according to Egyptian mythology. And so Pharaoh stands before the Hebrew midwives and tells them you will put to death every Hebrew male child wearing on his head, the protector of childbirth for women. He decrees infanticide, wearing the goddess of childbirth, and she is his protector. He himself is worshipped as a god. Pharaoh is the serpent. So when God sends a plague of serpents on his own people to recall them to their senses, the people who have said why can’t we just go back to Egypt where things are better? What is he doing? He’s saying, Do you remember your master in Egypt? Do you remember the hard toil? Do you want to be once again bitten? They are a metaphor as much as they are a literal source of death. In the Hebrew mind, the serpent and Pharaoh are closely equated. So why serpents to remind them of Egypt specifically. But note also specifically, how many parallels there are in this story to the story of Genesis. You have plentiful food that is provided in the Garden of Eden, that is rejected for forbidden food. You have a serpent who brings death. He says You will not surely die. And Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit and they look around and what happens? Do they die? They do not. Why? Because the death that God promised was going to be slow and painful and absolutely certain. A solution is promised to the snake problem of Eden in the same way that a solution is given in the story of the serpent on a pole. And this was so interesting to me.
Because if you go back and look at artwork from like the Renaissance and before when this story of Adam and Eve is depicted, you’ll have Adam and Eve in the garden and then you’ll see the serpent and where is the serpent typically in those pictures? Is he on the ground? Or is he somewhere else. He’s in a tree, you’ve seen them too. And this is because some of our older thinkers about Scripture believed that when the serpent is cast down, and is told that on his on the belly, on his belly on the ground, he will crawl all the days of his life, that perhaps he was a tree dweller before the curse occurred. Now, I don’t know if that’s true or not. But it’s interesting to me how often we see a serpent on a tree in those depictions. And so we see that you have a woman versus a serpent in Genesis, and then you have the woman, Israel versus the serpent, Pharaoh and Exodus. And ultimately, we will see in Revelation, the woman, the church, against the great dragon, representative of every pharaoh that has ever set itself up in opposition to God, and that serpent is cast down. But in this story of serpents be setting the nation of Israel, what we are seeing is God restoring enmity between the woman Israel and the serpent, you have forgotten to hate your enemy. You have forgotten to hate your enemy. But this is actually a more encouraging story than the story that we saw back in Exodus 15, and 16 and 17. Because in this story, the people repent, did you notice it? Like, God does not set up the pole for them prior to their repentance, they go to Moses, and they say, We have sinned against the Lord. And then Moses goes to the Lord. And the Lord says, here’s what you are going to do. Why does God command Moses to fashion a snake on a pole, though? That’s super weird. You’re like, why? No, why is because it’s the cross and the New Testament and blah, blah, blah. And I think that’s actually the most frustrating part to me about what a lot of commentaries have to say about this is it’s like, Guys, it’s Jesus on the cross move on. But there’s a lot more there. So we’re going to spend a little more time on it. So why a snake on a pole specifically? Well, you may be familiar with some of the places in the Old Testament where we see other people hung on trees, so to speak. So in the book of Joshua, when they begin the conquest of Canaan, they meet with the king of ai, ai is spelled AI and you say at AI, so it’s a little confusing, and they meet with him, and they have a battle and he is slain. And what do they do they hang him on a tree, so that everyone can see that the criminal has met with the proper death. And then immediately after you have the five kings of the Amorites, and the same thing happens, all five kings are hung on trees as a visual reminder, because Deuteronomy 2122 and 23 commanded this. And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body should not remain on night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day for a Hanged Man is cursed by God. A Hanged Man is cursed by God. So Israel knows this. And Israel treats these kings this way symbolically, so that we understand them to be against God, to be against God. But there’s another interesting story of someone a criminal being hung on a tree that we find in Second Samuel 18. And you have to be looking for it a little bit. And it’s the story of David’s beloved son, Absalom, do you remember Absalom? He’s like the Fabio of the Old Testament. He had a man bun before man buns were cool. And on this particular day, he should have kept it in but he did not. And so Absalom has become an A murderer, and an insurrectionist he murders his brother Amnon, and then he rebels against his father and wants to set up his own throne. And as the battle is waging between his people and David’s people, Absalom gets on his donkey and he is riding along a path, and his giant fluffy marvelous hair gets caught in the branches of a tree. And he hangs suspended there, and he is killed by his adversaries. And insurrectionists and a murderer hung on a tree. Hang on to that because you’re going to need it. Because it’s honestly making this picture even weirder. Like why a snake on a tree? Why not a lamb or a RAM as you heard Jackie talk about those would be more understandable images. Why a snake? So for this I think we need to take a look at snakes in the time of Jesus. So we moved to the New Testament and Luke’s Gospel introduces a new picture of Pharaoh for us that is important to our understanding because whereas in Exodus chapter one, you have Pharaoh putting to death the Hebrew boys who in the Gospel of Luke is seated on a throne decreeing the death of the Hebrew children. It is Herod the king of the who, the King of the Jews. And so in Luke’s gospel, it is a Jewish king, who is cast in the role of the serpent. And then we find John the Baptist in Matthew chapter three, and Jesus in Matthew chapter 12, and also in Matthew 23, employing serpent language again, listen to this and Matthew 23, starting in verse 29, Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, if we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them and shedding the blood of the prophets. Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets Fill up then the measure of your father’s, You serpents. You brood of vipers, how are you to escape, being sentenced to hell? The language of serpents is now applied to the religious leaders of Israel herself. So in the day of Jesus, the besetting serpents that sting the children of God are their own leaders. The Pharisees had become stinging serpents demanding worship, Woe to you, you love the best seats, Woe to you. You love when everyone thinks well of you, the very religious leaders of Israel have conformed to the image of the serpent. They are a plague on the people of God. And then we see a man come to Jesus at night and ask a question. How can he enter the kingdom? And Jesus says, oh, in order to enter the kingdom, you have to be born again. And he’s a little thrown off because maybe like a lot of dudes in ministry, feminine metaphor is really thrown for a loop. He says, gosh, should I enter again into my mother’s womb? And Jesus says, Oh, you have to be born of water and the Spirit. Nicodemus, a man of the Pharisees, a ruler of the Jews, a member of the brood of vipers. What must I do? So Jesus explains to him by water and the Spirit, and he’s still confused. So in verse nine of John chapter three, we read this, Nicodemus said to Him, How can these things be? Jesus answered him? Are You the teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things, and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except He who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And look at verse 14. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. Bible literacy pop quiz, are you ready? Can you recite John 316, for God, so that he gave us only that whosoever should not perish, but and here it is. Right here. Most familiar verse in all of Scripture, the one that Tim Tebow faithfully taught you. And it’s tied
to this story. It’s expanding on this image. The serpent on the pole, lifted up in the wilderness shows us that God’s so love the world and not only that, but these are Jesus prophetic words about himself to Nicodemus, who has come to him by night. A member of the brood of vipers. And I don’t know about you, but that’s all I ever heard about Nicodemus as a kid, we heard this story and then we never heard about him again. But actually, he shows up two more times in the Gospel of John, two more times. He’s in chapter seven. And in chapter 19, in chapter seven, the Pharisees the brood of vipers, they want to go and arrest Jesus. They’re ready. They have placed their verdict, they are ready to sting. The serpents are poised to strike and Nicodemus throws the flag. he cautions in that they’re getting ahead of themselves that Jesus is entitled to a hearing and they do not respond well. Nicodemus is thinking, Nicodemus is searching. And the Pharisees are coiled and hissing and ready to strike. And then there’s an interlude before we see Nicodemus again, but it’s a significant one. Because in chapter 18, we see a story about Jesus being put on trial, and there’s a man named Barabbas. You know, you’ve heard of Barabbas right? We hear about him during Holy Week. And Barabbas has been a prisoner. Do you know why Barabbas is in prison, because he is a murderer. And then insurrectionist murder and an insurrectionists and do you know what his name means? Bar? abas Simon bar Jonah Simon son of Jonah, bar abas Son of the Father Barabbas his name means son of the father. Barabbas is a son of his father, the devil and murderer and an insurrectionist and what do the people cry out? Give us Barabbas the one who should have died a murderer and insurrectionists death on a tree is set free. And the one who was the true son of the father goes to the cross and takes on the very image of the serpent. Paul says in Galatians three Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written cursive is everyone who hangs on a tree. At the cross, the one who is UTTERLY HOLY absorbs the utter depravity of humankind Second Corinthians 521 For our sake, he made him to be sin, who knew no sin so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God. First Corinthians 118 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved. It is the power of God it is foolishness to picture Christ as a serpent. But to us we understand exactly what it means. He went to the uttermost, he was utterly holy and He absorbed our utter depravity. Give us Barabbas crucify him. The Son of Man is indeed lifted up. And it’s at this point that Nicodemus re enters the scene. Chapter 19 of the Gospel of John, verse 38, it says, After these things, Joseph of Aaron mithya, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear that Jews as Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Verse 39, Nicodemus, also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about 75 pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and founded in linen claws with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. It takes about one pound of those spices to properly embalm the body. He brings 7575 Why? Because Nicodemus understood the punch line. Nicodemus got point do you to the unbeliever, you are stung by the serpent and you will surely die. This is the image that is given to Nicodemus, Nicodemus, who does not know him has something to learn from the image of the serpent on the pole. He knew the story would have been familiar to him as a teacher of Israel. He just didn’t understand what it meant. Until now.
It is you unbeliever who deserved the criminal’s death on a tree, look to Jesus and believe. There is certainly a message here for any who are not in Christ, to understand that you will surely die, you are snake bit, it is a matter of time, the venom is all three. But think also back to the context of the original story. It’s given to the children of Israel on the back end of the wandering through the wilderness, they have learned something of God they have learned that repentance is there and that grace is there for those who repent. And as Charles Spurgeon says, look, and live is for saints as well as for sinners. And so I asked you believer, do you look with longing over your shoulder at the trappings of your former slavery? Do not hunger to dine on forbidden food of your former bondage, do not love the world or anything in it? Look again to Jesus and believe. But I asked also, if the church of today has not lost the sense of enmity between the woman and the serpent. I asked, Has not the Lord once again sent the serpents of judgment among us to judge us for narcissism, for being lovers of self for worshipping leaders instead of God for those who are powerbrokers for those who would conceal abuse within the church itself? For those who are hypocrites? You brood of vipers. Do we not even today See, the God’s judgment which is even to us a grace if we would only pay heed. Look to Him and live. He will not give his worship to another like Nicodemus, and like the wise men, we should bring him incense gold and myrrh we should sell all we have in FOLLOW Him He was crushed for our iniquities, and he was cursed for our blessing. Christ was conformed to the image of the serpent, that we might be conformed to the image of Christ. We must not bow to the Pharaohs of culture and allow them into our church in such a way that we worship, leaders and power and glory instead of the one who will not give his glory to another. And what was required of those who were bitten in the wilderness, nothing more than to look and belief to look and believe. You see, we will either gaze longingly on Egypt, or we will gaze longingly on Christ will either worship Pharaoh or we will worship Yawei. No one can serve two masters. No one can bow to two kings. Look and live. Nicodemus got the point? Do we do the unbeliever fix your eyes on Jesus, the author of your faith to the believer who is still ensnared by sin? Look to Jesus, the perfecter of your face. gaze on him who took on the image of the serpent on your behalf? Why is the serpent native bronze? Why not gold thing to the tabernacle?
Do you remember how in the design of the tabernacle, the things in the outer courtyard were earthly in nature, while the things in the interior were heavenly in design and so as you walk in the entrance of the tabernacle, you go from the things that are made of common elements into the things that are made of gold and precious jewels. Do you know what everything is made of and the outer courtyard, bronze. Why? Because there was nothing in his appearance, that would draw us to him. It is a bronze serpent because it is a picture of the humiliation of Christ and taking on the form of a servant. And if we would take on that form, if we would humble ourselves before the Lord, I believe that the Lord in His kindness will restore the enmity between his church and that great dragon. And I believe it because Revelation tells me it is so and the dragon will be cast down. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Look to Him and live. Grace is at the ready to restore you, and to build you into the very image of the Son of the Father, of the true King of the Jews, of the one who came not to take life, but to give it For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believed on him might not perish but have everlasting life. Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, we bless your name that you provide for us even as we curse you. We confess to you that we are grumblers. We want what we used to have and we call it better than what you have given. You provide our daily bread and we say is this all there is to eat? You have given us life to the fool and we question your provision. And yet your grace is still abounding to us. Thank you for when you faithfully chastise us to return us to our understanding that you indeed are the only one upon whom our gaze can be reliably fixed. Oh Father, we do not want to look like the serpent. We do not want to be called children of our father, the devil when we are those who have called on the name of the Lord. We want to be bar ABIs the true children of the Father, known to all as instruments of your righteousness, give us grace that it might be so among the children of God and we ask these things in your name. Amen.
Jen Wilkin is a microevent speaker at TGC’s 2023 National Conference, “Hope in the Wilderness,” September 25–27, in Indianapolis. You can browse the complete list of topics and speakers. Register soon!