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#443 - |Victory| Pictures of Mercy: The Bronze Serpent

by Pure Life Ministries
July 18th 2021

When we become a vessel for the mercy of God to flow through to others, that’s when we begin to live in victory. But as humans we have a hard time really understanding what God’s mercy is. So, we’d... More

I love the cross of jesus christ. Because that is where my sin that once bound me and held me and ordered me around, made me do horrible things because of jesus on that cross. I was set free and it means everything to me. And you know I will gladly follow the Lord and walk that narrow way and embrace that cross. No matter what, when we become a vessel for the mercy of God to flow through us to others, that's when we begin to live in victory. But as humans we have a really hard time understanding what God's mercy is. So we'd like to spend a few weeks looking into God's word for specific pictures that will help us understand what is in God's merciful heart. This week we'll look at the bronze serpent, an old testament story that reveals the judgment that comes because of sin as well as the wonderful healing available to us.

When we look to christ by faith. Thanks for joining us on purity for life. Yeah. Mhm. Yeah. Mm. To begin this show, I brought Gabriel into the studio to tell you a story. If you're not driving, feel free to close your eyes either way. Imagine yourself in the congregation of Israel journeying through the desert. Yeah. Yeah. Mhm. It was only just a few months ago that you met God at Mount Sinai, you can still hear the blast of the trumpet in the earth shattering voice of God as he proclaimed his covenant. Yeah, the voice of Yahweh. Never before have you been so terrified? It was as if every word tore through your being until you wondered if you would even survive the event. Honestly, you're glad that's behind you. The desert heat is oppressive. It saps your strength and dulls your senses everywhere you look, people are bone tired.

You think to yourself, I cannot believe that we're going to wander through this wilderness for the next 40 years. Yes. You look at your feet dirty. You look at your clothes dirty. Yeah, Right. Your brother who's walking next to you says, When do you think we'll find some water? I'm so thirsty, at least in Egypt. We had water. Yes. You think to yourself, Egypt wasn't all bad. Then you realized the caravan had stopped up ahead of you. There are sounds of people shouting, you pushed through the crowd, trying to see what's going on. The elders of Israel have surrounded moses and are arguing with him. Why have you brought us up out of the Land of Egypt to die in this wilderness? There is no food and no water and we load this worthless food. Yes, that's right. You shall.

We're all going to die out here. Mhm. You strain to see into the center of the circle and you see moses lying on his face, What's he doing, you wonder? And then suddenly you hear screams, serpents run. People are panicking, screaming and running in every direction. Where is My family explodes through your mind like a bullet as you whirl around, looking for any sign of them to your left, a girl shrieks in pain, a serpent hanging from her foot. Mom! Dad, you screamed, but you don't see them anywhere all around you is absolute pandemonium. People are lying on the ground moaning, some have been bitten, others trampled on in the chaos beside yourself. With grief, you scan the crowd, looking for your parents and then fiery fangs sink into your left ankle.

Yeah, howling in pain. You reach down and grab the serpent trying to rip it off. It won't let go. In a blind panic, you grab a rock and you begin hitting its head with all your mind. Yeah, Yeah. Finally the snake is dead in your ankle shattered to pieces in the process. Yeah, the pain is unbearable and you can feel the poison taking its effect. A blinding headache, heart beating out of your chest liquid fire coursing through your whole body. Water. I need water, you gas. Yeah, but no one can hear you above the screams of the crowd and the groans of the dying collapsing in despair. You would almost welcome death. Your eyes begin to close and you think this is it?

How did it end this way? Darkness and then someone grabs you, screaming in pain. You try to fight them off. It's your father shaking you and yelling, Look and live, Look and live. You look desperately at him, fighting the poison with every ounce of strength left in your body. You say Dad, help me, I'm so thirsty, I need water. Your father grabs your face with his hands pointing off to your left. God be praised. He has made a way for us, son, son. Look and live. Mhm. Mhm. You try to look, but the poison is working quickly. You can hardly see anything through the haze of growing blindness, summoning all your strength.

You force yourself to concentrate and then you see it a tall pole with a bronze serpent lifted high above the masses of the dying. You turn to your father, Dad, I'm dying, I need water, please. You must help me with urgent compassion. Your father looks into your eyes and says, son, trust in God, He has made a way for you to be healed. Look and live. So here we are in the midst of this series about living in victory. And we've been saying for weeks now that living in Victory happens when we allow the mercy of God to flow through our lives out toward other people. And I found it helpful in my own life to see pictures of God's Mercy in the bible because it stops me from forming my own opinions about what God's mercy is like, and to see from God's eyes what he says, it really is when I see for myself what his mercy is like, then I can know what he wants me to become for other people.

So this week and in the coming weeks we're going to continue to talk about pictures of Mercy. And I hope that you too will see what God's Mercy actually is, so that you can see what he's asking you to do for others. So what's the picture that we see in the story of the bronze serpent? I hope you were able to capture something of the drama of that story because it really happened. There were real people who were bitten by real serpents who were really healed when they looked at a bronze snake hanging on a pole. And the story of the bronze serpent is remarkable as it is, and it's a wonderful picture of God's mercy. But when jesus came to the earth, he gave that story indescribable meaning one night he was talking to one of the religious leaders, a man named Nicodemus and he said to Nicodemus just as moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. So must I be lifted up that whoever believes in me may have eternal life.

Now, I want you to catch something here. When jesus says I must be lifted up, he's talking about the cross, but he's not talking about being up in the air, he's saying, I'm going to be exalted. You see in God's mind, the Cross is a place of exaltation, it's a place of glory. Listen to some scriptures from Isaiah, Isaiah 61 in the year that king josiah died. I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up Isaiah 30 The Lord is waiting to be gracious to you and exalting himself to show mercy to you. Isaiah 52 behold, my servant shall act wisely, he shall be high and lifted up. I really wish that we could read the following chapter, Isaiah 53 with the proper amount of astonishment because Isaiah shows us that this high and exalted Lord was actually a mocked, rejected, mutilated sin bearing man.

You see, God doesn't think the way that we think he doesn't measure things the way we measure things. when he says, I'll be exalted, he means exalted in suffering. When he says I'll be glorified, he means glorified by being slain. Some people have even wondered if the vision that Isaiah saw of the exalted lord on a throne was actually somehow a vision of the cross. It reminds me of what the apostle john saw in revelation when he said and I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures and in the midst of the elders, a lamb standing as if it had been slain. That is God's example of mercy. And I think we all need to ask ourselves this question. Am I willing to be conformed to his picture of mercy? Am I willing to become like the mercy of God displayed in jesus on the cross?

The mercy of God is jesus christ, willingly going to the death of the cross because he saw millions of men, women and Children under the curse of sin, groaning under cruel taskmasters and dying in their rebellion. The fire of his love gave him a mercy passion to free slaves from sin and to bring them into the glorious kingdom of life and liberty. And if we receive that same mercy Passion, it's going to take us to the same place. The place of suffering. Yes, because we'll take the weight of other people's sins on ourselves. But it will also be the place of glory because there we commune with the king of glory. Some of you have probably been crying out to God for years saying God set me free, set me free. But please consider with me that real freedom is allowing God to use your life to set others free.

Real freedom is allowing the needs, the sins, the struggles of others to become the thing that we bear to God because when we bear the sins and struggles and needs of others, we are like jesus and when we become like jesus in this way, then we are going to understand what it means to live in his victory. The Cross is the mercy of God. It is God's offer of life to those in the grip of death. Tragically, this incredible mercy has often been minimized and trivialized in the american church as if people can just received the acceptance of God and then live however they want. But this is a lie. As you'll hear in this chapel talk by pastor steve Gallagher. The radical mercy of God in the Cross demands a radical response. Quiet time I opened my bible up to Philippians and paul just made a comment there to those beloved Philippians, dear friends of his he mentioned enemies of the Cross whose end is destruction.

These enemies of the Cross. Their End. The end of their time on earth is an entrance into something. Mhm. It's an entrance into destruction. Yes, but it's deeper than that. It's darker than that. It's evil. It's horrible. Let me put it this way. The cross is all we have. And if you set yourself against the cross, where does that leave you? The cross is more than just singing on the old, rugged cross or something. It represents a lifestyle that you embrace. When you come to God. When you put your faith in, jesus christ listen to me. I look like I'm preaching to 10,000 people. I'm sorry, but I I don't know.

I just. The cross is our only hope. It's our only hope. Men. You can go back to dead religion and keep your carnal lifestyle if you wish. But it will make you an enemy of the cross. Because while you're here, you are going to get a sight of the cross. Maybe that you've never had and you will either become it's friend or it's faux. There's no in between and God wants you to be a friend of jesus to embrace him and all that his life represents. He was going somewhere, wasn't he? And he said, follow me. Are you willing be careful about saying yes? Make real sure that you mean it, inside that you have counted the cost because to go the way of the cross is going to cost you something, you know, cheap preachers out there can throw the things of God around as if they're nothing.

But you know something you pick up in a dime store. But God does not look at the cross that brutalized his son like that. I can assure you of that. And if you don't believe me, read Hebrews 10 and you'll see I love the cross of jesus christ. Because that is where my sin that once bound me and held me in its grip and treated me like it's slave ordered me around. Made me do shameful, horrible things. Mhm. And because of jesus on that cross, I was set free and it means everything to me. And you know I will gladly follow the Lord and walk that narrow way and embrace that cross. No matter what Lord, I just want to say it tonight.

Thank you. Thank you Lord. We can't ever comprehend what it cost you on the cross. We can't fathom what you experienced, Lord, not just on the cross, but in the whole time of your stay on earth Lord. The cost of leaving heaven, that glorious kingdom to come down here for the sake of others. Lord, we cannot comprehend. But what we can do is say, yes Lord, we will follow you. We will embrace that cross, wow! We will love it because it is our freedom and it is our hope in jesus name. Amen. When chris came to our program, he was alienated from God and an enemy of the cross, but then he saw the mercy of God and he surrendered and it transformed him from the inside out.

I was born into a christian home and was raised by two amazing Godly parents. Despite this, I was beginning to experience same sex attraction that was introduced to self gratification Early on, I was filled with shame and lived life hiding myself from others. The thought of others really knowing my struggles terrified me to the court. This intensified more as I began to dive into the world of pornography. During my teen years, I put on a mask as I got older and pretended everything was fine. As my inside world became more filled with darkness. I worshipped and crave the attention of others to the point of idolatry and lived off of my films and knew what I was doing was wrong. But my flesh and self life are out of control. I lived out a life of ministry on the outside for years while inwardly reveling in my sin, my sin eventually began to manifest itself in darker waste and my heart in time became numb to the Holy Spirit's conviction.

I had been given over completely to my sin praise God. That was in the end of the story. Yeah, in his great mercy, The Lord at long last brought my sin out into the light and completely shattered my world. I found myself desperate realizing that something had to change. I arrived at pure life ministries on august 1st 2020 a man out of options and a desperate need of a radical encounter of the living god. The Lord got right to work immediately after my arrival, he showed me the reality of my situation and just how desperately I needed true repentance, Brokenness and Godly sorrow over my sin. From early on, he used counseling sessions to show me my fear of man embassy, just how filled with pride and lust I really was. The Lord has begun a lifelong journey for me of walking in repentance. He's reached into the deepest recesses of my heart and brought to light all of my sin, my shame, middle eyes.

Through this unveiling he's shown me unfathomable mercy. I finally began to see his side of the cross. A real picture of who I was as a sinner and who the Lord is in his great mercy and loneliness. I began to see that the Lord wasn't a cruel and vindictive tyrant, but he is good and loving father. He wants to know us deeply and tabernacles together with us. Mm Yeah. These past nine months have truly been God's love letter of forgiveness to me as he has been wooing me to himself. He has loved me and pursued me all those years of being in darkness to fully when my heart so I can experience him in all his goodness. I'm finally able to live out a life of daily submission to him as my Lord and to his will. I want to thank my Lord and savior, jesus christ because of what he's done.

I can finally see you and know him at last. Mhm. Mhm. In today's picture of mercy, we saw that the bronze serpent was lifted up not for the friends of God, but for people who are treating him as an enemy, People who were complaining, accusing and rebelling against him and our eternal bronze serpent, jesus died because we were all enemies of the cross when christ died. What were we faithful and fully devoted to him? No, we were devoted to ourselves, living for self, living for our own will and our own lusts. And Jesus was willing to be lifted up in the glory of suffering so that we might look to him and live. I don't know where you're at spiritually today. Maybe you're doing really well embracing the cross and living a life of self denying mercy. And if that's you, we rejoice with you, but maybe you're in the same spiritual condition, those Israelites were in complaining, accusing God blaming him, or maybe just living for your own lusts and your own will.

If that describes you, please look at God's picture of mercy. See the man jesus on the cross, dying for you, his enemy, see him being willing to take the punishment for your sins. Will you turn and look to him today? Will you look and look and look and look until that site breaks you, delivers you heels you and saves you? We need so much to see that God is full of self sacrificing mercy to see that he didn't die for his own sins. He easily could have left us all to just perish, but instead he willingly bore the sins of his enemies so that we could be reconciled to God. This picture of mercy shows us, no matter where we're at spiritually, that if we want to follow jesus, we must turn our back on self centered living. Stop serving our own lusts and wills and embrace the life of the cross and the great sin bearer, jesus christ.

Thanks for joining us this week on purity. For life, we'll see you next time. Purity for life is a production of pure life ministries. For over 30 years. Pure Life ministries has been the go to for those whose lives have been devastated by sexual sin, visit us on the web. For more information about our life changing counseling programs and powerful teaching materials. Also check out our video clips of men and women whose lives have been radically transformed all that and more at Pure Life ministries dot org. Mhm mm.

#443 - |Victory| Pictures of Mercy: The Bronze Serpent
#443 - |Victory| Pictures of Mercy: The Bronze Serpent
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