For many years after I was a Christian, I could not understand how Christ took away my sins. I was sinful, and I had committed many sins, yet Christ took away my sins by dying on the cross. Finally, after many years, I began to understand something concerning Christ bearing away our sins. But it was a much longer time before I could understand how Christ was made sin. He not only bore our sins, but He also was made sin. God made Him sin for us. When He died on the cross, He not only bore our sins, but He was there as sin. He was condemned and crucified there as sin. This is seen in Romans 8:3: “God sending His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” The phrase “concerning sin” could be adequately translated “as an offering for sin.” It means that Christ became a sin offering to condemn sin. When Christ was crucified on the cross, He was crucified there not only as our Redeemer, but as sin itself. I realize that this is rather difficult for us to understand, but the type of the brass serpent gives us a good picture.
The Brass Serpent
The Lord Jesus told Nicodemus that He would be the brass serpent which Moses lifted up on a pole (John 3:14). We simply cannot understand. He was lifted up on the cross, and in our eyes He was Jesus, our Redeemer. But in God’s eyes, He was there as the serpent. Of course, He was just the serpent in form; He did not have the nature of the serpent. The brass serpent was a serpent in form only, without the poison in it. Romans 8:3 says that God sent His Son in the likeness or in the form of the flesh of sin. He was in the form of the flesh of sin, yet He Himself had no sin. We must realize that Christ was made sin for us. We not only have many sins, but we are even sin itself. Therefore, Christ not only bore our sins, but He was also made sin for us. When He became flesh, He was made sin. Flesh in the Bible almost means sin. When Christ became flesh, He became sin. Since He was made sin, He could become our sin offering to deal with us as sin. He not only dealt with our sins, but He also dealt with us as sin.
THE BLOOD OF THE SIN OFFERING
The sin offering had to be killed by the presenter on the altar in the presence of God. In this offering, the most important thing mentioned in detail is the blood. “And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tent of meeting before the Lord; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock’s head, and kill the bullock before the Lord. And the priest that is anointed shall take of the bullock’s blood, and bring it to the tent of meeting. And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the veil of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, which is in the tent of meeting; and shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tent of meeting” (Lev. 4:4-7, lit.).
First the blood was shed; then the priest brought the blood into the holy place to sprinkle the blood seven times before the veil. This means that he sprinkled the blood seven times before God, who was behind the veil. There is no doubt that the purpose of this was to satisfy God’s demand and requirement. Then after the sprinkling in the presence of God, the priest put some of the blood upon the four horns of the incense altar. We know that the incense altar is in the holy place, just before the veil, on the other side of which is God’s presence in the Holiest of All. The blood is put on the four horns of the incense altar for our acceptance. The sprinkling of the blood seven times is for God’s satisfaction, and the sprinkling of the blood on the four horns of the incense altar is for our acceptance. This means that whenever we come to have fellowship with God, we must do it by the merit of this blood. It is by this blood that our prayer and fellowship are accepted.
All the blood was then poured at the bottom of the altar in the sight of the presenter. By this time, the presenter is very much at peace because he realizes that the blood has been sprinkled before God, it has been placed on the horns of the incense altar, and it has been poured at the bottom of the altar. When he sees the blood, he realizes that he has been redeemed and fully accepted by God. All of His demands and requirements have been fulfilled by Christ. So the presenter is fully at peace. Because of this blood he has no fear. God has been fully satisfied, and he is fully accepted by God. The sprinkling of the blood seven times is for God, but the pouring out of the blood at the bottom of the altar is for the presenter.
Hebrews 9:12 tells us that when Christ ascended to the heavens, He brought His blood into the heavenly holy place, and He sprinkled the blood there. “Nor through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, entered once for all into the Holy of Holies, having found an eternal redemption.”
(Christ as the Reality, Chapter 20, by Witness Lee)