Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 155, 1898

The Brazen Serpent


December 20, 1898

Previously unpublished.

“Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe on God, believe also on me.” [John 14:1.] We are individually of value with God. He wants to restore the afflicted. Look at the Old Testament history. Here we shall find a clear, beautiful illustration of the way of salvation through faith. The church in the wilderness displeased God by their continual distrust of Him, and their unbelief and murmuring, until for their good the Lord said, I can instruct them only through punishment. He no longer kept the fiery serpents under control. He let them do their will, and their fiery sting was certain death. No cure could be found. 13LtMs, Ms 155, 1898, par. 1

Multitudes were terrified at the awful judgment. Then Israel came in fear and trembling and repentance to Moses, and humbly confessed their guilt, asking him to pray to God in their behalf. Moses did pray and the Lord heard his prayer, and gave relief. Not in the way they expected. Moses was commanded to make a serpent of brass and raise it on a pole in the midst of the camp, so that all the congregation might see it. The promise was given that every one who had been bitten, on looking to the brazen serpent, would be healed, and should live. 13LtMs, Ms 155, 1898, par. 2

Here Israel learned the lesson that God requires obedience from His people. They must learn to obey the directions given if they would be saved. Then let us look to the divine Physician, and live. The raising of the brazen serpent put the way of salvation in such a clear light that they understood that they were to be obedient to God’s Word, and trust in Him, without worrying or murmuring. This would bring the reward of faith. 13LtMs, Ms 155, 1898, par. 3

It was not chance that preserved the children of Israel, but a living power from God. God in His wisdom planned this matter. There was no virtue in the serpent. All the virtue was in the divine wisdom that appointed the remedy. There was no need of a natural connection between the disease and the remedy. It was a supernatural remedy, something beyond their reasoning and comprehensive powers. Learned doctors or the greatest reasoners could not understand the philosophy of it, nor is it God’s plan that those who talk of higher education shall approve of the plan of His work. It was necessary that the people should believe that the presence of God was with them in their wilderness journey, and that all who obeyed His will would be under His divine protection. Every one who felt the sting of the fiery serpent must look at that brazen serpent, and be healed. 13LtMs, Ms 155, 1898, par. 4

This figure was used by Christ in the third chapter of John. The great Teacher said to Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [Verses 14-16.] 13LtMs, Ms 155, 1898, par. 5