This is Christ’s own evangelistic message to Nicodemus, using the symbol of the bronze serpent once lifted up for all healing of dying Israelites. It shows the elements of faith, and why it is the only way to obtain forgiveness, new life and blessing from God.
‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.’
They’re the words of Christ and our title this evening, is Why Conversion Comes by Faith. Why it is that conversion must come by faith alone? Now the Lord Jesus Christ makes use in, if you like, a sermon or a statement that he made to a Pharisee named Nicodemus of this event which took place long, long before his coming, some 1400 years before, when the children of Israel were in the wilderness, in the desert, in the very last stage of their time there and their journeys there.
Now the people had spoken against God and they’d spoken and complained against Moses in that early part of their history and they’d insulted the provisions that God had given them, the miraculous bread, the manna, and they’d given up believing in God’s purpose for them, that he was taking them to a new land. And it was not just despair on their part, it was worse than that. It was a rejection of belief in their God, in Moses, their leader, in all the prophecies and statements that had been made. It included rejection on their part of all the wonderful things they’d seen, deliverances they’d had, miracles they’ve observed.
No, they somehow persuaded themselves to rationalise it all away and to reject it and to ignore it and in an aggressive and militant way they denied God and they denied their calling and all that he was doing for them. Well it was sheer unbelief, it was unreasonable, it was entirely evil and wicked on their part. They were rejecting the rule of God and they were rejecting everything they’d seen and known. And so there was a punishment for them which was given by God and that was, it’s all in the book of Numbers, chapter 21, he sent among them creatures that are called fiery serpents or fiery snakes and in all probability they’re called fiery, not because they were literally emanating fire or anything like that, but because when they bit their victims, the symptoms were a burning, fiery fever.
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