Ep89-The Poison of Sin and Atonement-Fire on the Horizon-Ch 15

Show Notes:

The Poison of Sin and Atonement

The Book of Mormon repeatedly focuses on a particular image as a metaphor of healing. The image reaches deep into the nature of human sin and its lasting effects that remain in us. Above all, it teaches the surprising lesson that the very thing that can kill us can also save us. The story of the fiery flying serpents appears in the Old Testament (Num. 21:6–9). The most surprising thing about this event is that it was “the Lord [who] sent fiery serpents among the people,” presumably because they had “spoken against the Lord” (v. 7). As the fiery serpents bit the Israelites, killing many of them, they begged Moses to intervene on their behalf. In response, “the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and fasten it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass that every one that is bitten when he looketh upon it, shall live” (v. 8).

The Book of Mormon twice refers to this episode as a type of Christ and the Atonement (Alma 33:19–22, Hel. 8:14–15). As Alma explained,
Behold, [the Son of God] was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whoseover would look upon it might live. And many did look and live. But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them. O my brethren, if ye could be healed by merely casting about your eyes that ye might be healed, would ye not behold quickly, or would ye rather harden your hearts in unbelief, and be slothful, that ye would cast about your eyes, that ye might perish? If so, wo shall come upon you; but if not so, then cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins. (Alma 33:19–22)

Type of Christ how? Anti-venom

There was only one thing that prevented them from looking: a hard heart. All they had to do was turn their heads and look. Yet they would rather die than give up their stubbornness and simply look.

Healing can begin only when we are prepared to apply the blood containing the antivenom. Healing arises from opening to unconditional love that judges us as worthy just as we are—in a word, to be justified. Such justification is a sheer gift....That is how atonement works—we give ourselves to be in him and he gives himself to be in us.


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