by J. Philip Scranton

"AND I, if I be exalted out of the earth, shall be drawing all to Myself" (John 12:32). The exaltation of which Christ spoke here was His uplifting in judgment upon our sin on the cross. The theme of deliverance through an uplifting in judgment is one that may be traced through the Scriptures.

"Now the deluge was coming forty days and forty nights on the earth, and the waters were increasing. They lifted up the ark so that it was high above the earth" (Gen.7:17). The ark was lifted up by the waters of judgment that fell on an earth filled with violence. But there was salvation and safety inside the ark. The presence within the ark of all creatures endangered by the flood represents the inclusion of all in Christ when He was on the cross. Christ bore the overwhelming flood of judgment upon sin. We are safe because our salvation is in Him. In Him is the circumcision--the death of our flesh, and in Him is our entombment and resurrection (Col.2:10-12).

The rod of God in the hand of Moses is twice specifically said to have been lifted up. God instructed Moses to lift up the rod and strike the waters of Egypt (Ex.7:20). When Moses complied, the waters were turned to blood. In Egypt all life conformed to the Nile and its tributaries because the rest of the land was arid. Here is a judgment upon that which says, "To live in this world, one must conform to its standards" God says by this miracle that a demand to such conformity carries the stench of death. Paul echoes the same truth in writing to the Romans "... not to be configured to this eon, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom.12:2). The reason behind this exhortation is that the judgment of the cross has crucified the world to us; we now smell the stench of death upon the world and its system. And the cross has crucified us to the world; the world considers us dead by its standards (Gal.6:14).

The second uplifting of the rod was at the Sea of Weeds (Ex. 14:13-18). God commanded the rod to be lifted up and held out over the sea to divide the waters. The following miracle beautifully displays God's power to save. Not only did Israel escape from Egypt, but God also destroyed Pharaoh and his army so that Israel could not be recaptured. Paul tells us that these events are typical of our salvation in Christ (1 Cor.10:1-4). Christ not only saves us from death and its power, but He also abolishes death, guaranteeing that we shall never again be subject to it (2 Tim.1:10; Heb.2:14,15; 1 Cor.15:26).

The life of Samson furnishes another grand display of God's salvation through the lifting up of Christ (Judges 15:9-20). Both Christ and Samson were bound, without struggle, and handed over to a ruling nation for execution. The Spirit of God came upon Samson, and he slew the Philistines with the cheekbone of a donkey. From the severe strain of the battle Samson cried out in thirst, and God split open a place in the hill, and water came out to quench Samson's thirst. Samson named the hill where the battle occurred "Ramath-lehi" which means "the height, or uplifting of the cheekbone." And the water source he named "En-hakkore," meaning "the well of him that cried" Christ also fought a tremendous battle on the hill called Golgotha, and He also cried out in thirst. And from that place God has opened a well of the water of life.

"And, according as Moses exalts the serpent in the wilderness, thus must the Son of Mankind be exalted, that everyone believing on Him should not be perishing, but may be having life eonian" (John 3:14). In this verse Christ referred to the incidents recorded in Numbers 21:5-9. God could have simply caused the fiery serpents to go away. Instead He left them, and He provided a means of healing. Moses made a serpent of copper which was lifted up on a pole. Those who were bitten would live when they looked up at the copper serpent. We may wonder why God chose to have a serpent represent Christ. But the type is beautiful and true. When Christ was lifted up on the cross, He was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). And so the serpent represents Him quite accurately during that time of darkness on the cursed tree.

We know that the time Jonah spent in the belly of the great fish represented the entombment of Christ (Matt.12:40). But Christ's crucifixion is also portrayed by Jonah. Jonah was "lifted up" and cast into the sea (Jonah 1:12), and the sea became calm. The result of this was that the men on the ship feared Yahweh and made sacrifices and vows to Him (1:16). Likewise, it is the lifting up of Christ in crucifixion and the plunging of Him into death, that brings us salvation and knowledge of God.

How precious His lifting up is to every one of us. May these divine foreshadowings help illuminate our understanding and deepen our appreciation of that uplifting.

© J. Philip Scranton
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