The Brazen Serpent -- By: Carl Armerding

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 102:405 (Jan 1945)
Article: The Brazen Serpent
Author: Carl Armerding

The Brazen Serpent

Carl Armerding

[Editor’s Note: The Texas Chapter of the Dallas Seminary Alumni Association was addressed recently by Dr. Armerding. In place of a formal lecture Dr. Armerding presented the material which follows here as a subject for free discussion. Any alumni or interested Bible students who might care to continue the discussion with the author may communicate with him through Bibliotheca Sacra. Mail addressed to the quarterly in his name will be forwarded at once.]

The Brazen Serpent is one of the most striking, as well as one of the most familiar, types of Christ given to us in the Scriptures. The very form of it is unique. It is different from any of the other types of our Lord. In fact, if He had not used it as a type of Himself it is not likely that any reverent soul would have thought of doing so because the serpent, in Scripture, is associated with Satan. It was in that form that he made his first appearance in the garden of Eden, and it is as “that old serpent” that he is referred to in the book of Revelation. But when our Lord said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,” He gave us His own warrant for using it as a type of Himself in His death upon the cross. And yet, there is nothing in the type itself that even suggests blood-shedding or expiation. The usual type of Christ was a clean animal, without spot or blemish, whose life was taken instead of the life of the sinner. But in the case of the Brazen Serpent there is not even a hint of substitution. In this respect it is decidedly different from any other type of our Lord in His death upon the cross.

Again, it is one of the last, if not the very last, of all the types of Christ which we find in the Pentateuch. It is introduced near the close of the wilderness journey of the Israelites, just three stops before the brook Zered, which

Moses referred to (Deut 2:13, 14) as one of the most important points in that journey. The brook Zered marked the point where all the men of war who had rebelled at Kadesh-barnea, were finally consumed from among the host. It is entirely possible that the Lord used the fiery serpents for that very purpose. When they rebelled at Kadesh they said, “Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” (Num 14:2). And they got what they desired. The apostasy of Korah and his company cost a good many lives besides the 14,700 that died of the plague at that same time. But the final blow seems to have fallen at this time when they ...

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