Thursday, September 01, 2011

Gospel Stories. Part 1

I lead a small group bible study at church. The group members are mostly new to the Christian faith, and basically they have no idea what the Gospel is. Recently, I started a thematic series on Gospel Typologies: how the Old Testament has many stories that fore-shadow the substitutionary death and the triumphant resurrection of Jesus. Although the group is led entirely in Korean, I thought I'd put the lessons in writing here.

(Jump to: Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.)

1. The Bronze Snake (Numbers 21:4-9)

The bronze snake in the middle of the desert. So here's the deal. The nation of Israel were in bondage of brutal slavery under Egypt for some 400 years. You see all the Pyramids of Egypt? Yeah: Israelites were forced to build many of them. The Egyptians were harsh masters, even going as far as killing new-born Hebrew boys because they feared the Hebrews were outbreeding them. But anyway, God rescues the Hebrews from the Egyptians, by raising up a leader: Moses.

Some time after the Exodus, out in the middle of the desert, the Iraelites begin complaining of their lack of food and water. They start blaming God for having rescued them out of Egypt, saying they wish they were back in Egypt. God punishes them by sending a massive den of poisnous snakes, and thousands die of the snake bites.

Moses prays for the people, asking God to have mercy on them. God hears that prayer, and he tells Moses, "Okay. I'll tell you what to do. You go and sculpt a snake out of some bronze, set it up on a bronze staff, and hold it up as high as you can in the middle of the camp. And anyone who looks at the snake will be healed of the deadly snake bite. Moses does as told, and we are told that many people who simply looked at the bronze snake were completely healed.

Many thousands of years later, Jesus refers to this particular story in John 3:14-15:
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
This for me is such a wonderful picture of the Gospel message: we simply look to Jesus, and we are instantly forgiven of all our sins. The punishment (death) that comes with sin is no longer our problem. In the next part, we will look at perhaps the most famous story in the Old Testament: the Passover.
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