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God continually pursues humanity in love. Revealing Himself in ways that we can understand. He even reveals Himself through false beliefs, to set humanity free from the destructive forces of self, evil and death. Throughout the ages He journeyed with people groups and individuals.
One such people group was the Ancient Israelites. They knew Him as the creator of heaven and earth and all things good. He heard their cries for freedom and He delivered them from the oppression of slavery. Yet as soon as they were free, they rejected God their deliverer and turned their hearts against Him.
Yet He still journeyed with them through the wilderness and provided for them. God stayed with them, even in their rebellion. He fed them miraculously with bread from heaven, so they would know that humanity lives and breathes by every word spoken by Him.
God provided water in the desert out of a rock to show His compassion, love and life giving power. He preserved their clothes and their feet never swelled all through those 40 years in the wilderness.
But God needed to expose the deceptions of their heart. As He wanted to set them free from the destructive forces of pride. So He continued to reveal His sustaining power and unconditional love to them in ways they would understand.
He did all this so that they could live, flourish and possess all that God had given and done for them. If only they would turn their hearts to Him, so that they could be truly free.
greater than false belief
Before God delivered the Ancient Israelites, they spent many years as slaves to the most powerful nation of the time. As a result they became very familiar with their oppressors belief system. Their oppressors believed that if they made an image of something that was a threat to them, that image would protect them.
Their oppressors had a fear of snakes and therefore wore jewellery of snakes in the belief that it would protect them from snake attacks.
It was also a common belief by the surrounding nations and even to this day. It is evident in superstition, lucky charms, rituals, black magic and sacrifices to gods made by humanity.
God knowing this reveals Himself through their false belief.
Numbers 21:5-9 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 our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.
Therefore 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. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
God’s great love
God in His great love and mercy continues to journey with them, even in their rebellion. He reaches down to their level and revealed Himself even in their false belief to help them receive and believe.
God instructed Moses to make a serpent and put it on a pole and hold it up for all to see. God declared that everyone whom is bitten, when he looks at the serpent, shall live. And so it was just as God had spoken it would be.
Even after a serpent had bitten anyone, when that person looked at the bronze serpent, they lived.
In their false belief God empowered them to be able to receive from Him. God had made a way for them to receive His deliverance in a way that they could understand.
All they had to do was recognise their need for deliverance and healing. God delivered them in a way they could understand and in their lowest point, He made a way for them to receive.
Through the fiery serpents God revealed to them the deceptions of their heart and their need for a saviour.
So God continued to journey through the wilderness with the Ancient Israelites and reveal His character to them and the surrounding nations through His journey with them. He continued to reveal humanity’s need for a saviour so that we could believe and receive.
God gave them the law which included offerings of worship and a system of sacrifice, to help them believe and receive from Him. That is receive His salvation, deliverance, love, forgiveness, grace and mercy.
humanity needed the sacrifice
Yet the Ancient Israelites continued to be against God. Blinded by their own pride they denied Him and all that He had done for them. As they had turned their hearts to other gods made by humanity, they offered sacrifices to them, instead of turning to the only one who could deliver them.
At one time they even falsely attributed the power of life and death that belonged to God, to the gods made by humanity.
The gods formed by humanity demanded sacrifice, some even human sacrifice. Blood sacrifices were common practice of surrounding nations and were mostly used to appease the anger of these gods made by humanity.
God, the creator of heaven and earth and all things good did not need the sacrifice to forgive, renew and restore humanity. For He is in an eternal state of forgiveness and is the giver and sustainer of life itself.
He is rich in mercy, forever loving and kind, holy, faithful, perfect and true. He is who He is, and greater than all.
Yet He continues to reach down to our lowest point, protecting and delivering us from the destructive forces of pride, selfish desires and evil.
God continued to do everything and gave all of Himself to help all of humanity believe and receive from Him.
In a moment of human history He became both the sacrifice and deliverer for all humanity.
Jesus the eternal one came in human form. He experienced the full human condition. God reached down into the darkness of humanity and shone His glorious light of truth. He made Himself personal and reached out to all people in ways they could receive and believe.
jesus became the sacrifice
When He walked the earth as a man, in the dark of the night, a Jewish teacher came to Him. This teacher could only see through earthly eyes, so Jesus spoke to him about earthly things to bring spiritual revelation to Him.
Jesus is the union of the divine with the natural, where heaven and earth become one. He talked about the time when He was there with the Ancient Israelites in the wilderness all those centuries ago and how humanity needs a spiritual rebirth. The teacher whose name is Nicodemus responds and Jesus continues to reveal the amazing love of God.
born of spirit
John 3:9-18 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
And 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. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
our need for a saviour
Jesus reveals the Father’s heart, His kingdom and humanity’s need for a saviour. He refers to that time when God delivered the Ancient Israelites from being bitten by deadly venomous snakes. To a time that the teacher of Israel is so familiar with. When God lowered Himself to their level of belief, yet never compromised His interprets. God never is one with evil but is greater than it and turns it into good.
Jesus, God who has come in human form, never committed any offence yet subjected Himself to the full human condition to deliver humanity from the destructive forces of selfish desires, evil and death.
Humanity had given power to their selfish desires and evil and as a result became slaves to them.
Yet just like the serpent in the wilderness, Jesus, God the Son who became the son of man was lifted up on the cross for all the world to see. So that whoever believes in Him and receives His sacrifice of Himself will receive everlasting life.
God’s testimony is true. His sacrifice is eternal.
Just as God did not need to have the serpent formed to deliver the Ancient Israelites He did not need the sacrifice to deliver humanity. We did.
We needed the sacrifice. To help us believe and receive salvation and healing, eternal life and His kingdom. To know someone has paid the cost so that we can be truly free.
He protects us from pride
In God becoming the sacrifice for us, He is also protecting us from the deceptions of pride.
Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Everything depends upon the love of God. His sacrifice is eternal. It because God so loves. His sacrifice was exclusively for our benefit and a consequence of God’s great love toward us. Where He willingly subjected Himself to the lowest form of humanity. He became a slave for us and died a humiliating death at the hands of humanity.
It was our selfish desires of fleshly pride and unbelief that cried out, ‘crucify Him, crucify Him.’
We needed the sacrifice to believe, to know someone had paid the cost. So God in Jesus became that someone.
The last enemy of death had to be defeated. To do that Jesus had to die in human form and be raised to life in human form.
So all who were willing could believe and receive.
God so loves
The sacrifice of God Himself was all because God so loves. It was solely for our benefit to help us believe and receive His healing, forgiveness, salvation and victory.
God’s love and salvation does not depend upon our love or our goodness or even our belief. For He is greater and has done everything to help us believe and receive.
He is eternal and continues throughout history to reach down to us and reveal Himself in ways we could understand. Even to the lowest point of the destructive forces of selfish desires, evil and the consequences of death. For such is His great love and amazing grace.