Jan 192018

bronze serpentOne of the most widely known verses in the bible is John 3:16 For god so loved the world…etc. The context was Jesus being approached at night by Nicodemus, one of the main religious leaders.

Everyone focuses on that famous verse 16, but in His discourse, just two verses earlier, Jesus mentions our subject today and clearly equates it to himself;

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. (John 3:14-15)

Jesus was referring to an interesting time in Israel’s history where the people had left Egypt but had been stopped from entering the Promised Land because of their constant bickering. How ungrateful! God had miraculously provided food on a constant basis but they were still unhappy. Here is the account:

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. 5 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 loathe this worthless food.” 6 Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7 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 take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 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.”9 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. (Numbers 21:4-9)

This whole account clearly points towards Jesus in a number of ways. Let’s consider this further;

  • The bronze serpent was God’s plan for salvation. He gave them a way to live despite their rebellion. This foreshadowed God’s ultimate plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.
  • We looked at a great word the other week – propitiation (http://adrianpursglove.com/shadows-of-jesus-sin-offering/) which basically means the diverting of God’s wrath. The bronze serpent represented the diverting of God’s wrath. Jesus took our sin upon himself on the cross and successfully diverted the wrath that was heading towards us.
  • Whoever looked at the serpent was healed, whoever looks to Jesus and believes is saved.
  • The bronze serpent served as a reminder to the people of the serpent in the garden of Eden. A curse was proclaimed against the serpent. Jesus bore our sin and became a curse for us.
  • The bronze serpent was lifted up so that the people could look to it and live. Jesus was lifted up on the cross so that anyone who looks to him and believes will live forever.

Salvation is simple, it’s not a magic formula. We look to Jesus, trust and believe in Him and we are saved

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

There’s one more lesson I want to bring out of this passage, which is an important warning to us all. The Israelites turned a good thing into an idolatrous thing. In 2 Kings 18:4 we read of how they actually started to worship the bronze serpent itself. We live in a day where too much attention is placed on religious objects and paraphernalia rather than on Jesus himself. This can be very easy to do, but we need to trust in Jesus alone. Have your eyes become fixed on something else? Let me encourage you to look to him

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

 January 19, 2018  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Jan 122018

Feast of first fruitsThere are seven major festivals which were instigated at the time of the tabernacle, some more famous than others. These festivals are all set out in Leviticus 23.

Three of these festivals fell on the week that Jesus was crucified and are very significant. The first festival, and one we have looked at before, was the Passover. This is the feast that Jesus was celebrating just before he was betrayed and arrested. At the same time was the feast of unleavened bread and the day after the Sabbath was celebrated the feast of firstfruits (actually Easter Sunday).

The feast of firstfruits was a special feast, ordained by God, in which the Israelites would acknowledge the fertility of the land that God had graciously provided for them. It was not like the pagan rituals where the people would try to appease their gods in the hope that there might be a good crop. No, this was a faith filled celebration that God would supply and provide a good harvest just as he had promised.

It is a great principal for us today. We don’t owe God anything, we can never repay Him for what He has done, but what we can do is offer our best, our first fruits of all He has provided. The most obvious is the first fruits of our money, not whatever we have left over. But it also includes every other part of our lives; our time, energy and talents. God should always get the first and the best of us.

So how does this shadow Jesus?

It is very significant that the feast of firstfruits was celebrated on what we now call Easter Sunday. The apostle Paul saw the resurrection of Jesus as a ‘firstfruits’ of a greater resurrection day in 1 Corinthians 15:20–23.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

Jesus described Himself as the grain of wheat that was to fall into the ground and die, which would then spring to life and bring forth much fruit. He said to his disciples;

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (1 John 12:24)

Jesus was the ‘first fruits’ of the resurrection which in time we will all enjoy. The tomb is empty! Jesus rose from the dead! He is alive. He is the first to rise from the dead in expectation of a greater harvest.

What a fantastic hope! And on top of that there is another great ‘firstfruits’ promise, the gift of the Holy Spirit. The day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was first poured out is often described as the ‘firstfruits’ of the Spirit. It was just a taste of what Jesus will increase in the earth until His return.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

We have received the first part, the deposit of the Holy Spirit. Just imagine what it will be like when we stand before the face of God in our resurrection bodies and experience His overwhelming love for all eternity. So far we have only had a taste. Then we will enjoy the full sumptuous meal!

 January 12, 2018  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Jan 052018

scapegoatWe have been looking recently at The High Priest and how his ministry and office shadow the office of ‘The great high priest’ – Jesus himself.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the ‘Day of atonement’ one of the most significant days in the Jewish calendar. This was the day (once a year) when the high priest would enter the Holy of holies and represent the people before God, making sacrifices for sins.

This day is set out in great detail in Leviticus 16

One of the aspects of this day was ‘the scapegoat’ a highly symbolic act which, as so many other things did, looked forward to the ministry of Jesus.

After the high priest had sacrificed a bull for himself, he would then make sacrifices for the people. He was to take two perfect male goats and present them before the Lord. He would cast lots to choose which one would be slaughtered and which one would be set free. After the first goat had been sacrificed for the sins of the people, the second goat (the ‘scapegoat’) was taken to the high priest where he placed his hands on the goats head. He would confess the sins of the people over the goat and it was then led out into the wilderness where it was released, symbolically carrying the sins of the people with it.

Actually, for us, Jesus represents both goats. He was the ultimate sacrifice that paid for our sins and He is our scapegoat, the innocent goat who took upon himself the weight of our sin.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Our sins were laid on Jesus who bore our sins just like the scapegoat bore the sins of the Israelites;

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

The goat, having taken on the sins of the whole community, was cast out of the city and the presence of the people. The same thing happened to Jesus on the day that He was crucified. He was taken outside Jerusalem and crucified on the hill at Calvary.

..and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all…. he bore the sin of many and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:6,12)

Because what Jesus did was a ‘once and for all sacrifice’ there is no need for any further sacrifices, we don’t need to place our hands on a goat and send him away. Jesus has not only forgiven us, but he has removed our sins, as the bible says, as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12)

we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all….. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:10,14)

 January 5, 2018  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »