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Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Bronze Serpent And Justification By Faith Alone

  • Introduction:
          -The focus of this study is to examine the bronze serpent, which is found in the Book of Numbers. This article is being written to demonstrate how it relates to the biblical teaching of justification by faith alone (Sola Fide). First, the Old Testament passage describing the creation and purpose of the bronze serpent serpent will be cited. Secondly, the New Testament parallel passage will be cited to construct this argument for salvation apart from all meritorious works. Then, comments on these passages will be provided to formulate the argument based on the creation of the bronze serpent.
  • The Purpose And Creation Of The Bronze Serpent:
          -"And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore 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 looketh 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 the serpent of brass, he lived." (Numbers 21:6-9)

  • New Testament Parallel--The Begotten Son Jesus Christ:
          -"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:14-18)

  • Explanatory Notes: 

          -According to Numbers 21:6-9, the people of the disobedient nation called Israel were dying from getting bitten by poisonous snakes. Hence, the Jewish people needed a remedy to ensure their survival after envenomation from the serpents, which were God's curse to punish His chosen people for sin. In response to their plea of clemency, God instructed the Israelites to simply look at the bronze serpent, which was created by Moses. Those who placed their trust in the Lord by looking at it miraculously got rescued from death. We can certainly infer from this historical event the spiritually bankrupt nature of man. This Old Testament opportunity to get healed from death is a typological example of Jesus Christ's power to save mankind from spiritual death. Those who choose to look at Jesus Christ on the cross by trusting in the absolute sufficiency of His redemptive work are saved from eternal condemnation in the literal flames of hell. Sinners recover from their spiritual illnesses by getting cured by the Doctor of Salvation, Jesus Christ. God's chosen people, the Jews, were not saved by any good deeds, but by simple faith in the salvific declarations of God the Father. Neither are Christians justified by human efforts, but by simple faith in the Lord's salvation plan. In conclusion, the entire theme of salvation throughout the Bible is that we inherit everlasting life, apart from the merit of all works. Salvation has always been on the basis of God's infinite grace through our faith in Him.