Previous · Home · Next

Definite Atonement in Numbers


The only saving remedy for man’s helpless state in sin is the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Upon the cross, the Lord Jesus became sin for His people so that they might receive salvation in Him. This substitutionary death was prefigured in the wilderness in the bronze serpent that God told Moses to make and put upon a pole. It was a saving remedy not intended for the surrounding nations of the world, but exclusively for Israel. If the people of God would look, they would be saved:

Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And 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. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. —Numbers 21:6–9

By His grace, God provided a saving remedy for the sinning Israelites who had been bitten by the fiery serpents He had sent in His judgment. These poisonous snakes administered a lethal bite that ministered death—a picture of the deadly venom of sin. But God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and place it on a standard. When it was raised up, all who looked to it by faith were saved. According to Christ’s own words, this bronze serpent was a picture of His vicarious death upon the cross (John 3:14–15). It portrayed the necessity of looking to Christ in personal, saving faith for salvation. Seeing this intended connection between the bronze serpent and Christ, James Montgomery Boice writes, “In the same way, we are to look to Christ’s cross. We have been bitten by sin, as they were bitten. We are dying of sin, as they were dying. God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin that we might believe on Him and not perish. . . . This is the heart of Christianity. God has provided salvation for you in Jesus Christ.” Upon the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ became sin for all who will believe upon Him. The bronze serpent was not intended for the Canaanites or the Egyptians, who lived and died in unbelief. Rather, it was exclusively for God’s people, who looked and lived. So it is with the death of Christ. He died for His people, for all who would put their trust in Him.

—Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 92–93.

TrackBack URL:
Share this post: Twitter Buffer Facebook Email Print
Posted  in: Foundations of Grace · James Montgomery Boice · Numbers · Old Testament Gospel · Steve Lawson
Link · 2 Comments · 0 TrackBacks
← Previous · Home · Next →

RSS Twitter Facebook Kindle




#1 || 12·08·10··13:40 || David Kjos

This post was originally—and erroneously—titled Definite Atonement in Deuteronomy. I blame Bush.

#2 || 12·08·10··14:33 || rebecca

I read it yesterday and didn't notice....

Post a comment

Comments are being held for moderation. Please be patient, and your comment will be published as expeditiously as possible.