Saturday, May 1, 2021

The cross foretold in an Old Testament allegory

 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. -Romans 5:14

One of my favorite studies in all of scripture is the discovery of  Christ in the Old Testament. Christ himself said that the scriptures were written of him (John 5:39; Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44).  Paul writes in the above-stated verse, that Adam is a figure of him that was to come. Who was the one that was to come?  Jesus Christ, which Paul confirms in the very next verse. The Greek word for figure can also be rendered type, and thus we have the study of typology.  Typology is a special kind of symbology, types such as a figure like Adam, or an object like the tabernacle (Hebrews 9:8-9) are a type of Christ.  That is, these types (as it relates to Christ) are imperfect but contain prophetic characteristics or actions that represent who Christ is, what he would do, and what he continues to do.  Many say that what is concealed in the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament. For example, The Passover lamb was a shadow, Christ the Lamb of God was the reality.  One of my favorite symbolic representations of Christ and a picture of salvation itself is the historical account of the brazen serpent on the staff:

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 21:8-9

    Shortly after God had given the Israelites the victory over the Canaanites, many of the Israelites became discouraged because of the journey they had embarked on. Their discouragement snowballed into complaints against the Lord. As a result, God sent fiery serpents into the camp that killed several people.  As Moses did several times before, he interceded for Israel, prayed for deliverance, and God ordered Moses to create a brazen serpent and raise it up upon a pole.  All those who were bitten and simply looked upon the brazen serpent on the pole were healed and their lives were spared.  This historical event, was a shadow of what Christ would actually do, as Christ himself reveals this to us in John 3:14:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.

    Just as the brazen serpent was lifted up on a pole and cured the afflicted Israelites, Christ was lifted up on the cross, and all those (Jew and Gentile) who believe on him will be cured, or rather forgiven of their sins.  The beauty is in its simplicity. Just as the Israelites were under judgment for their attitude towards God, we all are under judgment for our sin.  Just as looking upon the serpent healed the Jews, looking to Christ heals us.  All one has to do is to believe in Christ's finished work on the cross, just as the prophet Isaiah foretold: Who hath believed our report? (Isaiah 53:1) Isaiah asks, who will believe in the one God sent? After he asks who believes, we find this tidbit he writes shortly thereafter: his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).  We are healed/forgiven by believing in his sinless sacrifice.  

    Some may wonder, how is Christ symbolically represented by a brazen serpent?  Well just as a serpent can be symbolic of sin, Paul by the power of the Holy Spirit answers this: 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 (2nd Corinthians 5:21).  The pole represents the cross, and the serpent represents the sin Christ was made to be on our behalf. He bore our sins on the cross as Peter states in 1st Peter 2:24.  Trusting in God's sacrifice is a free gift, he paid the penalty out of his love for us (Romans 5:8). There is nothing left for us to add, Christ himself in John 19:30 emphatically states: "It is finished!". Church attendance and good works cannot save. Nothing but the belief in Christ's finished work, for without blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). Some may question, wouldn't believing in Christ be considered a work towards salvation?  Well no as Paul writes in Romans 4:5 below.  His free gift for trusting him is eternal life, as Paul writes: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). 

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. -Romans 4:5

    Moses wrote about the brazen serpent circa 1400 BC in the Torah, as tradition holds it.  Over a thousand and some centuries years later, this prophetic picture has been fulfilled. No book on earth can light a candle to the Bible in terms of its prophetic fulfillments. Who could write such a book that has accurately predicted future events by using 40 or so authors who penned 66 books, across 3 continents, with harmoniously woven themes, over the span of 1500 years? You guessed it, only the good Lord himself! Types of Christ are all over the Old Testament and have been revealed in the New.  Have you discovered these for yourself?  God wants you to, he seeks to draw all men unto himself (John 12:32). Amen to Him for that.

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