s 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 eternal 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” (John 3:14-16).
When the children of Israel were passing through the wilderness toward Canaan, they brought upon themselves the judgments of God by murmuring and complaining. They were bitten by fiery, poisonous serpents of the wilderness, and were smitten with death. A messenger came through the camp, with the news that a remedy had been provided. By the direction of Christ a brazen serpent had been lifted up, and those who would but look upon it would be healed.
When this [message] was announced, some of the sick and dying did not accept it. Here and there throughout the camp were heard the words, “It is impossible for me to be healed, because I am in such a dreadful condition. Those who are not in so bad a state as I am, may, perhaps, look and live.” Others thought they had a remedy of their own that could cure the poisonous bite of the serpent; but only those who accepted the message and looked to the brazen serpent were healed. This serpent represented Christ. . . .
Man is poisoned by sin; but a remedy has been provided for the fallen race in the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Every hope that we have of salvation out of Christ is a vain hope. We cannot dishonor our Savior more than by doubting that He will save us. Whatever may have been our life of transgression, however deep may be the stain of our sin, there is One who is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.
Jesus is the remedy for sin. We may have intellect, but human intelligence can devise no way of salvation; we may have earthly possessions, but that will not provide a ransom for the sin of our soul. Salvation is the gift of God through Christ, and the promise is, “Whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Nominal Faith Not Enough
It is not enough to have a nominal faith. We must have faith that will appropriate the life-giving power to our souls. We suffer great loss because we do not exercise simple, living faith in Christ. We should be able to say, “He is my Savior; He died for me; I look to Him as my complete Savior and live.” We are to look to Christ day by day. We are to regard Him as our example in all things. This is faith. . . .
We honor our Lord and Master when we place implicit confidence in Him. If we distrust the message that He has sent us, we shall be in a position similar to that of the Israelites who were bitten by the fiery serpents, but who would not look and live. If we accept the message of love that has come to us in invitations, exhortation, and reproof, it will prove life and healing to our souls.
We should not be satisfied with anything less than a close connection with Christ. Freedom and salvation are offered to us, and we should grasp the precious promises of God by living faith. But if we only partially believe, if we do not show in our experience the power of living faith that works by love and purifies the soul, we shall fail to meet the expectation of our Lord and Master. Jesus says, “Without me, ye can do nothing,” but if He abides in us and we in Him, we can do all things through the power of His might. We should trust Him as a child trusts his earthly parents. We should feel such love toward Him that we cannot betray His confidence in us, or distrust Him under any circumstances. We should have a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.
We should be like the afflicted woman who pressed her way through the throng to touch the hem of Christ’s garment. She gave no casual touch; it was the touch of faith; for virtue went out from Christ and healed her. Although the throng were pressing and crowding about the Savior, He recognized the touch of faith. He turned and asked, “Who touched me?”
“And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace” (Luke 8:45-48).1
Jesus Brought Hope to the Hopeless
There are times when Christ would say to those in His service whose energies had been overtaxed, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). We have the record on one occasion, after a day of ceaseless toil, that our Redeemer lay, a coil of rope for His pillow, fast asleep in a fisherman’s boat. His exhausted human nature cried for rest and sleep. . . .
Behold the Savior! How pressing were the necessities which sought Him for relief! Teaching in the Temple, healing in the Temple, explaining the Scriptures in the streets, by the wayside, in His retired walks—the subjects so urgent left Him no time for repose. His sympathies were drawn out for the oppressed, He comforted the mourner, He brought hope to the hopeless, He healed the scars and bruises that sin had made. He went about doing good.2
The Christian is not to live for this present life. We are to look to Jesus, who through an ignominious death made a way for our escape. We must every one of us lay hold of the hope that is set before us in the gospel, if we would have everlasting life. You should ask yourself, “How much am I willing to sacrifice for the truth’s sake?” Before you answer this question, I would direct you to the life and sacrifice of Jesus for you. As you see Him whom your sins have pierced lifted upon the cross of Calvary, you will in contrition of soul lay all at His feet. When we remember how much our salvation has cost, we may be sure that eternal life is worth everything. . . .
Satan will come in many ways to tempt the soul away from Christ. He will first tell you that you are good enough of yourself; that you do not need a work of reformation wrought for you. He will suggest to you that you have made but few mistakes in your life, and that these will be overbalanced by the good you have done. If you have lived such a life as he would make you believe you have, it would be like a chain with unsound links in it, wholly worthless. One sin unrepented of is enough to close the gates of heaven against you. It was because man could not be saved with one stain of sin upon him, that Jesus came to die on Calvary’s cross. Your only hope is to look to Christ and live. He came to save to the uttermost all who came unto Him; and He is fully able to do all that He has undertaken to do for you. He will lift us up from the degradation into which we have fallen because of sin.3
Jesus, Our Mediator
As you near the cross of Calvary there is seen love that is without a parallel. As you by faith grasp the meaning of the sacrifice, you see yourself a sinner, condemned by a broken law. This is repentance. As you come with humble heart, you find pardon, for Christ Jesus is represented as continually standing at the altar, momentarily offering up the sacrifice for the sins of the world. He is a minister of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man.
The typical shadows of the Jewish tabernacle no longer possess any virtue. A daily and yearly typical atonement is no longer to be made, but the atoning sacrifice through a mediator is essential because of the constant commission of sin. Jesus is officiating in the presence of God, offering up His shed blood, as it had been a lamb slain. Jesus presents the oblation offered for every offense and every shortcoming of the sinner.
Questions for Reflection
1. The author says: “Every hope we have of salvation out of Christ is a vain hope.” How do you see the significance of this statement for the church generally, and for you personally?
2. What is the message of this reading for (a) those who feel righteous and self-sufficient, and (b) those with a chronic feeling of unworthiness? What is the healthy attitude to have?
3. How does the message of the Second Coming affect your life as a Christian? How personal is this event to you?
Christ, our Mediator, and the Holy Spirit are constantly interceding in man’s behalf, but the Spirit pleads not for us as does Christ, who presents His blood, shed from the foundation of the world; the Spirit works upon our hearts, drawing out prayers and penitence, praise and thanksgiving. The gratitude which flows from our lips is the result of the Spirit’s striking the cords of the soul in holy memories, awakening the music of the heart.
The religious services, the prayers, the praise, the penitent confession of sin ascend from true believers as incense to the heavenly sanctuary, but passing through the corrupt channels of humanity, they are so defiled that unless purified by blood, they can never be of value with God. They ascend not in spotless purity, and unless the Intercessor, who is at God’s right hand, presents and purifies all by His righteousness, it is not acceptable to God. All incense from earthly tabernacles must be moist with the cleansing drops of the blood of Christ. He holds before the Father the censer of His own merits, in which there is no taint of earthly corruption. He gathers into this censer the prayers, the praise, and the confessions of His people, and with these He puts His own spotless righteousness. Then, perfumed with the merits of Christ’s propitiation, the incense comes up before God wholly and entirely acceptable.4
Satan tries to interpose himself between us and Christ, but we must drive him back by talking faith, and by exalting the power of Jesus to save us. Shall we not take steps in advance without delay? Shall we not show that we are not afraid to trust our Savior in the darkness as well as in the light? . . .
Hope in Christ’s Soon Coming
Jesus loves you, and when trials come upon your soul, as they surely will, you must be often found with God in prayer. The enemy may tell you that God will not hear you; but you must rest in His promise that He will hear the prayer of the contrite soul. Keep your petitions continually ascending to Jesus, and believe that He hears you, and He will hear you and deliver you from every trial and temptation. The apostle says: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus.”5
The coming of the Lord has been in all ages the hope of His true followers. The Savior’s parting promise upon Olivet, that He would come again, lighted up the future for His disciples, filling their hearts with joy and hope that sorrow could not quench nor trials dim. Amid suffering and persecution, “the appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” was the “blessed hope.” . . .
On rocky Patmos the beloved disciple hears the promise, “Surely I come quickly,” and his longing response voices the prayer of the church in all her pilgrimage, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).6
1 Signs of the Times, Mar. 10, 1890.
2 Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, pp. 349, 350.
3 Signs of the Times, Mar. 17, 1890.
4 Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 343, 344.
5 Signs of the Times, Mar. 17, 1890.
6 The Great Controversy, p. 302.
Ellen G. White was one of the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Her work continues to be a prophetic voice among Adventists.