Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message I am burdened to present, as a parenthesis, a further word on Genesis 3:15. As we saw in the last message, Genesis 3:15 is the gospel. Genesis 3:15 is the first occurrence of the proclamation of the gospel in the entire Bible. In this verse God Himself preached the glad tidings to fallen man in judging the serpent. Therefore, we need to spend more time on this verse.
I have mentioned several times in previous messages that nearly everything found in Genesis 1 through 3 is a seed that grows throughout the following books of the Bible, appearing as a crop in the Epistles of the New Testament and ripening into a harvest in the book of Revelation. We have seen this principle applied to many items. In this message I want to point out this principle once again as we consider the three main items found in Genesis 3:15: the serpent, the woman, and the seed of the woman.
As we read through the Scriptures, we find the serpent is not only mentioned in Genesis, but also in other books of the Bible. Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 both refer to the serpent. In Revelation 12 and 20 we find that Satan has various namesthe dragon, the ancient serpent, the Devil, and Satan. Among these names we find the title "the ancient serpent." John uses this term because at the time he wrote the book of Revelation the serpent had become very old, in fact, at least four thousand years old. Who is this "ancient serpent"? The only way to answer this question is to consult the third chapter of Genesis where the serpent is first mentioned.
In John 3:14 we find another reference to the serpent. When Nicodemus, a high-class gentleman of superior attainment, came to the Lord Jesus in a positive way, the Lord told him that he needed a new birth with a new life (John 3:3, 5). The Lord told him that his human spirit needed to be reborn of the Holy Spirit, for "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). However, not many Christians have observed that in His conversation with Nicodemus the Lord pointed that gentleman to the serpent (John 3:14). Although Nicodemus was a gentleman, a teacher, and a "master of Israel," the Lord indicated that he was a serpent.
At a certain point in His conversation with Nicodemus the Lord Jesus said, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up." What does this mean? It was the Lord's answer to Nicodemus's question. Nicodemus had asked, "How can a man be born when he is old?" and, "How can these things be?" Nicodemus was asking how he could be born again. The Lord replied, "You are the teacher of Israel, and you don't know these things?" Although Nicodemus taught the Old Testament to the people, he did not know the meaning of being born again. Therefore, the Lord referred to the type of the brass serpent lifted up on a pole by Moses (Num. 21:9). The Lord seemed to be saying to him, "Your fathers were all bitten by poisonous serpents, and the poison of the serpents entered into them. Your fathers became serpents in the eyes of God. Because they were dying, Moses prayed to God on their behalf, and God told Moses to lift up a brass serpent on a pole to bear His judgment upon the poisoned Israelites. Everyone who had been poisoned by the serpents and who looked to the brass serpent lifted up on the pole lived." Many of the Israelites did this, and their lives were preserved. This is a type of regeneration. The Lord seemed to be telling Nicodemus, "Don't consider yourself as a gentleman. You must realize that you are one of the people who has been poisoned by the serpent and that you have the serpentine nature within you. Apparently you are a man; actually you are a serpent. In the eyes of God you are one of the serpents. Although you are a serpent, I have come to die for you. I shall die on the cross in the form of the serpent. When I am on the cross, in the eyes of God I shall not only be a substitute for sinners; I shall be judged there by God in the form of the serpent. The only difference is that the real serpent has poison, but I shall only be in the form of the serpent. I do not have the nature and the poison of the serpent. I have come in the likeness of the flesh of sin, in the form of the serpent, to die for all of you who have been poisoned by the serpent."
The first mention of the serpent in Genesis 3 is a seed that is developed in subsequent books of the Bible. We see the serpent in Genesis 3 and also in John 3:14. Nearly all Christians have seen the eternal life in John 3:16, but not many have seen the serpent in John 3:14. However, if we are to understand what is eternal life, we must also understand what is the serpent. We must see the serpent. The serpent is not only in Genesis and John but is fully exposed in the book of Revelation. In Genesis 3:15 the serpent is a little seed, in the Gospel of John this seed grows, and in the book of Revelation this seed becomes a harvest. By reading throughout the Bible we can see that in every generation God's divine work has had a goal: to build up the Body to express His Son, Christ, and also to eliminate the serpent. God intends to expel the serpent. Therefore, we all must realize where the serpent is today.
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