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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why I See Christmas in Numbers 21 (Part 2)

We are talking about how we can see the purpose of Christmas in the Old Testament story of Israel's rejection of the manna God rained down from heaven for them to eat. I would like to note that the manna came early in the morning, while the people still slept. The dew came first so the manna did not connect with the earth that was cursed because of the fall of mankind. The dew came down and then the manna rested on the dew. Biblically speaking, dew is representative of God's favor and blessing. So, instead of food from the earth which is cursed, the manna rested on the opposite of cursed—favor and blessing.

But Israel complained about the manna. They called it light bread and said their souls loathed it. Then poisonous serpents—common to the area—began to bite them. The serpents had never bitten anyone before, so apparently a door was opened—a shield came down through the complaining—and allowed the venomous snakes to do what snakes naturally do.

When people began to drop dead from the serpents' bite, they asked Moses to intercede for them. He did, and God gave him the cure. Now pay attention, we are about to celebrate Christmas.

When we spell out the word serpent in the Hebrew we can see a picture developing. The Hebrew alphabet is amazing in that it also contains their numerical system and each letter paints a prophetic picture.

From right to left the first letter in the word serpent is nun. The ancient Hebrew pictograph of the letter nun is a seed. It has the meaning of continuation, progeny, and heirship. The modern Hebrew picture of nun is a fish—which is where the Christian fish symbol comes from. This fish symbol connotes the meaning of believer. This makes perfect sense because those who believe on Jesus become sons (children, progeny) of God (John 1:12). Before the fall—before Adam took the word of the serpent over the word of God—God called Adam a son (Lk 1:38).

The letter nun has the numerical value of fifty, which has a theme of freedom. The year of Jubilee is the fiftieth year and slaves are set free, debts canceled and property returns to its original owners.

The second letter of the word serpent is chet. The ancient Hebrew pictograph of this letter is a tent wall. It is what separated the female side of the tent from the male side. It was a wall of division. The modern picture of the letter chet is a fence. Both signify separation and/or division.

It is significant to me that the doorposts in Goshen (believers) had to have blood applied to the lintel (above the door) and each doorpost, which forms the letter chet if you write it out. I haven't figured out how to do that in the blog world yet. Only the doorways with the blood applied were protected from the death angel. That is why most modern Jews consider the chet the sign of life and often wear it as jewelry. The blood of the lamb on those doorposts left all Israel alive. The picture of the door or fence brought the realization of separation to a new light.

The numerical value for chet is eight, which has a theme of new beginnings. Eight people were in Noah's ark to begin new life in the earth after the flood. On the eighth day after birth, a male child (Hebrew) enters into covenant with God and is given his Hebrew name—which is kept secret until that time (tradition).

The last letter of the word serpent is the shin. Interestingly, the ancient and modern picture of shin is tooth/teeth. It is drawn as two front teeth in the ancient pictographs, representing peace and protection from the devourer. Shin represents the Guardian of Peace and one of the names God chose to reveal Himself to Abraham—Shaddai—the provider and sustainer of life. Starting to see a theme here? If you look at the shin it seems to signify a flame as it looks like flames leaping upward. The Jewish mystical tradition of the spiritual essence of shin is fire and flames. Though the two pictures seem diverse, they aren't. Teeth are used to devour and fire devours too.

The numerical value of shin is three hundred. Gideon attacked the Midianites with only three hundred men armed with flaming torches in one hand and swords in another. Samson burned the fields of his enemies by releasing three hundred foxes with torches tied to their tails. And I am reminded of the story of the Holy Spirit coming to reside with believers and people saw tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

I see vividly the story of the fall in the Hebrew writing of the word serpent. The serpent is the fence between the believer and God—the source of separation and division.

But God gave Moses the solution to the serpent problem. He told Moses to make a serpent of bronze. In the biblical world, bronze is representative of judgment. God told Moses to place the bronze serpent on the rod and lift it up so all could see it. Those who were bitten by the serpent need only to look upon the bronze serpent to live. The serpent was judged and the people were healed and regained the life the serpent stole.

Now I want you to know that in Hebrew writing that the word bronze is the exact same word as the word serpent except one letter has been added to the word. The letter tav is added to the word serpent to make it a bronze serpent. The ancient Hebrew pictograph of the tav is a cross. When the cross is added to the serpent it represents the serpent has been judged. The serpent is rendered powerless. To all who look upon the cross in belief—the serpent cannot harm.

Jesus said, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up. Whoever believes in Him (Son of Man) will have eternal life. God loves all humanity in the world so much that He sent His only Son to liberate them from the curse in the world because of sin. Whoever believes in this Son that God has sent is no longer cursed or condemned, but set free (John 3:14-18).

Can you see the purpose of Christmas in this story? Can you see, like the manna, coming quietly and in a manner unexpected (what is it?), the Savior of the world came as a child in the wee hours? Jesus said, "I am the bread sent from Heaven, for the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (John 6:33-41). Jesus came to give us the life God intended for us to have. We cannot attain that life any other way. All the health food in the store will not give us that quality of life. All the organic supplements and all the prescription meds and all the physicians of the world—are lacking compared to what Jesus accomplished by coming to the earth and being lifted up to take the judgment and curse that was in the world because of sin. Now that is a Christmas story!

To sum up a few points I gained from this study:

Believers are considered (by God) to be children of God—with all the rights and privileges of heirship. (John 1:12-13).
Slaves are set free, debts are released and property is returned to the original owners. Jesus represented to us how mankind was intended to live—far above principalities and powers, sickness and disease, evil of every kind—and as He was leaving, He said, "As my Father sent me, so I send you." (John 20:21).
Christmas is about family. God called Adam His son. When Adam turned away from what God said as truth and honorable—like the prodigal son in the parable Jesus told—God did not write him off, but rather waited for him to realize his "missing the mark," (which is what sin is) and sent Jesus to show us all the way back to being the family of God. We all descend from Adam. The Bible calls Jesus the last Adam, because He came to show us the way back home—to the heart of God.

The Angels said it best, "Peace on earth and (God's) goodwill toward mankind." Merry Christmas to all and may the light of the world shine brightly in each heart.

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