font size | A A A

brazen-serpent Moses lifted up the serpent
Outside the Camp

by haRold Smith
a citizen of the Commonwealth
(Ephesians 2:12)

"Yeshua answered, '...the wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don't know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.' Nicodemus answered him, 'How can these things be?' Yeshua answered him, 'Are you the teacher of Yisra'el, and don't understand these things? Most assuredly I tell you, we speak that which we know, and testify of that which we have seen, and you don't receive our witness. If I told you earthly things and you don't believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has been exalted into heaven, but he who came out of heaven, the Son of Man, who abides in heaven. As Moshe lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For YHVH so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life'." John 3:8-16

We are all called to be like the early Bereans of Acts 17:11 (click on highlighted words to view content): to verify that whatever is being preached to us is true - or not. The way the Bereans did that was to search the scriptures. The only scriptures they had access to at the time that spoke of the Essence of Truth was the Tanakh (OT) - the Messianic Writings (NT) had not yet been written (see Torah or "the Law"?). It is imperative for every one of us to open the whole of the scriptures, to call upon the Father of Truth (YaHoVeH - Who IS Truth) and to find out for ourselves if what is being taught is true - or not (1John 2:27), There are many voices calling for our attention in the spirit realm these days as this age matures, those voices will only multiply and intensify. Finding Life in Truth is what this quest is about. The Father has given us an instruction manual as a guide to help us find our way through this maze to Him - the Source of Life. That Life is not the instruction manual itself - the manual only speaks of that Life (John 5:39), Life is found in a personal, intimate relationship with Spirit. It is imperative that we use that manual to dig for Truth ourselves and not settle for anything less than the excellence of Truth as exampled by the Son just because it might be easier to do so (Romans 3:4), The sole purpose of these articles is to encourage you to simply look at the words written on the pages of scripture for the meaning they contain in the light of the original language and the context they were assembled in with an appreciation of the Hebrew culture, mindset and perspective they were written from. The refusal to look at scripture just for what it says without overlaying a pre-conceived theological template upon it is the definition of tradition Yeshua gave in Mark 7:7-8. The embrace of tradition is the ONLY attribute Yeshua ever pointed to that He said would bring to "none effect" the Power of those Words in our lives (Mark 7:13). To Know Him is to Know Him both in Spirit and in Truth - not forsaking one for the other. (John 4:24, John 8:31-32, see what it means to Abide In His Name).

The story of Moses and the fashioning of the bronze or copper serpent Yeshua referred to in the passage from John above is found in only one place in scripture - Numbers 21:4-9. It says that when Moses finished making the image of the serpent, he set it on a pole and whoever beheld it - lived. The Hebrew word for beheld in this passage is nabat and means to regard, show regard to, pay attention to, consider, look upon. The Hebrew word for lived comes from the root word chayah and means have life, remain alive, sustain life, live prosperously, be quickened, be alive, be restored to life or health. Yeshua likened His death in John 3:14 above to that of the serpent raised on the pole in Numbers 21:8. While it is true that one of the definitions of the Greek word stauros that is translated into the English word "cross" is "pole" or "stake", it is the Hebrew word translated "pole" in Numbers that really should be the word to consider because it is the word within the passage Yeshua quoted. That Hebrew word is nes, meaning something lifted up, a standard, ensign, banner, sign. The Greek word hypsoo, translated as "lifted up" in John even agrees with the Hebrew in its meaning of to lift up on high, to exalt. This Hebrew word for "pole" (nes) is the same word used for "ensign" in Isaiah 11:10 - "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to him shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious." Notice the distinction between "the people" and the "goyim" (Gentiles). The Messiah, coming from the root of Jesse (the father of king David), will be that standard or sign lifted up (i.e., exalted) for the redemption of the Family of YHVH, Israel ("the people", see what is the Inheritance), but to whom also will the Gentiles (the others) be drawn to - the exact meaning (hypsoo) given for "lifted up" found in Yeshua's statement of John 12:32. Yeshua said that JUST AS Moses lifted up the serpent to become the conduit through which healing would occur and they, "the people" would live - IN THE SAME MANNER whoever of "the people" beholds (or embraces) that ensign, Yeshua, would find healing and live - the restoration of rest to his being (Matthew 11:29). Remember, Yeshua is speaking to Nicodemus - one of "the people". That ensign is the conduit through which the Father provided healing (the restoration of the rest found originally in the Garden with Adam, the first Hebrew, and lost through disobedience). To live in the restored Kingdom of YHVH, however, one must first become one of "the people" of the Kingdom - the family of YHVH, Israel (what the Gentiles seek, mentioned earlier in Isaiah 11:10). If Gentiles are grafted into the Kingdom of the commonwealth of Israel, with Israel as the root of the grafted branches - how can Gentiles expect to live differently from the natural branches of the Kingdom apart from the root of that tree (Ephesians 2:11-13, Romans 11:16-18)?

Many have mistakenly read the passage in John 3 above to mean that Yeshua's death would be the ultimate sacrifice to YHVH and whoever believed in His death on the cross would find Life. But, words mean things, and to just look at the construction of the words in the way they are presented, they lend themselves to a different thought. Throughout the Messianic Writings (NT), the words say that whoever believes Yeshua has been raised from the dead would be saved. (i.e., Romans 10:9). Yeshua's blood was not poured out as a "sacrifice" for the forgiveness of the sin of mankind (as Christian religious tradition would have us believe), but for the healing and redemption of the Family of YHVH, Israel, that had been separated because of corrupted blood. Just as the pure blood breathed into the first son, Adam, had been corrupted by disobedience resulting in separation from the Garden, the Kingdom of YHVH; so the restoration of that Kingdom would be redeemed by the obedience of the second son, Yeshua, with His Pure Blood poured out on the assembly. At the time of Moses and the serpent, the tabernacle of the assembly (where sacrifices were performed) that housed the Present Presence was "OUTSIDE THE CAMP", having been separated from the camp of the assembly years earlier due to the insistence of allowing darkness into the camp (Exodus 33:6-11). This was done, not to preserve the integrity of the tent, but so that the people would not be consumed by the brilliance within their midst because Light and darkness can not inhabit the same space at the same time. As the serpent on the pole of Moses was lifted up (or exalted) over the assembly of "the people", IN LIKE MANNER Yeshua was "lifted up" outside the Temple (where sacrifices were performed). Therefore, Yeshua's death can not be considered a "sacrifice" as it did not meet any of the requirements of Torah sacrifices - and which specifically did not include human sacrifice. That men were killed is acknowledged, but that always occurred "outside the camp" so that the Presence of YHVH not be defiled (Leviticus 15:31, Numbers 15:35-36, see what the the Atonement was really about). Wearing the mantle of the status of firstborn, Yeshua became that standard, that ensign so that His Pure Blood would be shed on the separated corrupt blood of YHVH's family within the assembly, thereby ransoming the corrupt blood of the family with His Own Pure Blood. Yeshua became the healing conduit by which the family of Israel was redeemed and the Kingdom of YHVH was restored to all who would embrace the precepts of that Kingdom (Luke 4:43).

It was through the high standard found in the Life Yeshua held up and exalted before us that the redemption of YHVH's family occurred - not in His death. That standard was obedience to the Words of YHVH - and not just some of His Words. The English word translated as believe in John 3:16 is the Greek word pisteuo , meaning to be persuaded of, to rely on, place confidence in, to trust in (see what it means To Believe). The word translated have comes from the Greek echo, (now, that's interesting) meaning in the sense of wearing, to have (hold) possession of. Yeshua was not saying eternal life originated with Him, but that by taking possession of His Life, holding His Manner of Living as the standard, the ensign for the living of our own life IS the conduit that would result in living eternally in the Present Presence of the Source of Life - YHVH (see what living In Perpetuity means).

"For thus says YHVH, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved ...Lead me in your Truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long." Isaiah 30:15, Psalm 25:5

It is in the Presence of YHVH that we find rest and are saved (Exodus 33:14). Understanding what constitutes His Presence and then remaining in, residing or living in the Presence of YHVH becomes our Salvation. We come into His Presence both in Spirit and in Truth - not forsaking one for the other. (1Samuel 15:22, John 10:27-29, John 4:24). Scripture is merely a validation that what we are hearing spoken by His Spirit is truly of Him. All of scripture (including the Torah) has been given as an instruction manual to teach us of the Essence of the Father that we might clearly understand who we are hearing and then conform ourselves to His Words as He prescribes so as to remain in His Presence and find rest in our being by doing what He speaks to us (Matthew 11:28).

King Hezekiah
King Hezekiah
While it would appear this story of the serpent on the pole finishes in Numbers with a, seemingly, positive outcome - there is actually more to be told. So, let's keep reading to see what happens with the serpent on the pole and YHVH's reaction to it. We pick up in 2Kings 17 where "the people" were provoking YHVH by not keeping His Words because they were stubborn, as their fathers had been in the wilderness - not believing in YHVH by despising His statutes (verse 14-15). 2Kings 18:1-7 tells us that when Hezekiah became the king of Israel, he "broke in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan". The Hebrew word for incense is katar and means to make or to offer sacrifices to. The children of Israel had shifted their worship off of YHVH, the source of their healing, and made an idol out of the Nehushtan, the carved or fashioned "thing of brass", that had once been the conduit through which that healing had passed. The passage goes on to say that because Hezekiah trusted in YHVH, the Elohim of Israel, by not departing from the Words given by YHVH; that the Spirit of YHVH was with him, and he prospered in all his ways. Perhaps there is something in this story from which we could learn. According to the words of Yeshua in John 17:3. to have eternal life IS to know, to be intimate in relationship with, the One Who is the Source of Life, YHVH - Who is living and abiding in eternity. When does eternity begin? Right NOW (2Corinthians 6:2). Scripturally, there is no immortal soul. To be in the Presence of Life right now IS eternal life. It is interesting to note that each time when asked the question, "How do I obtain eternal life?" curiously, Yeshua referred people to the Ten Commandments contained in Torah - even repeating them so that there would be no doubt over which Words He was speaking about (Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-21, Luke 10:25-28, Luke 18:18-22). How can that be if His purpose was to "do away" with the commandments of the law as has been drummed into us in complete contradiction to Yeshua's own words of Matthew 5:17-20? Apparently, Yeshua thought there is something we must actually DO to conform ourselves to, in order to obtain, lay hold of this eternal life He spoke about. Could it be, could the correlation be made, that these things spoken of in the Ten Commandments are the things of Spirit - of Life? (see the Law of Grace for more).

Yeshua made the distinction between "the people" and others when He said that salvation is of the Jew in John 4:22. The Greek text reads ek ton 'ioudaion, literally "out of the Judeans" (a common idiom for Jews). As referenced earlier, the Greek word for salvation is soteria , and means deliverance from molestation. Yeshua is saying to the Samaritan woman at the well that deliverance (salvation) comes out of the Hebrew family of YHVH - that salvation has its source and its existence out of YHVH's relationship and involvement with His family of Israel. It is to His People, His family of Israel, that YHVH has revealed His Essence, His Nature and Character. To no one else on the face of the planet, ever, has He said, "These are My People." This is why Yeshua, being Hebrew and keenly understanding this dynamic, was consistently pointing "the people" back to the Father of this family. Just as a child growing up in a family, we learn what the Father expects by being involved with the other members of the family. What He expects was handed to His Family in the form of His Ten Words (emphasis on verse one) contained in the Torah. To be involved with His Family is to keep all of His Words - not just the ones that are convenient. (see the Who Is Israel? series).

If you ask most followers of the Christian religion today if they keep the Ten Words (what have become popularly known as the "Ten Commandments"), you will most likely receive a definitive "yes" answer. If you ask those same followers if they have in their possession some form of the symbol of the cross, most will also likely answer affirmatively - with pride. But, if you point out to them that the cross they are wearing is a carved image spoken of prohibitively in the second of those Words, most will likely respond with a blank stare, completely unaware the cross has become Nehushtan to them or of what the consequence of that action means - separation from the Source of Life.
King Hezekiah
Constantine's Vision
Or, if they have been indoctrinated sufficiently in that religion's traditional underpinnings, they will begin to justify what they do with an answer that, in effect, rewrites, redefines or excuses what the words we have been given say and mean. However, history reveals to even the most casual observer that the cross as a Christian symbol cannot be found prior to Constantine’s vision of conquest under the sign of "the cross", which was, actually, not a cross as we know it today but the "Chi-Rho" emblem. Before it became the monogram of "the Christ", the chi rho was the monogram of Chronos (whose Greek name also begins with a Chi-rho), the god of time and an emblem of several solar deities. The crucifix with "the Savior" attached did not appear until the fifth century. Christianity's obsessiveness with obliterating everything Hebrew from that religion has caused its followers to transgress the second of those Ten Words given from YHVH by making and, thereby, worshipping the carved image of a cross. Every establishment in which Christians congregate to worship does so under some sort of a carved image of a cross. That those actions are done out of the tradition of ignorance because it has always been done that way does not obliterate the fact of the action for the individual - what we give ourselves to, what we serve IS what we worship. That has never changed (Deuteronomy 11:16, Luke 4:8).

"For this is the love of YHVH, that we keep his commandments:
and his commandments are not grievous." 1John 5:3

Please feel free to email them to me at While not claiming to have all the answers, it would be an honor to share with you what the Spirit is uncovering.