THE SNAKE ON A POLE
1. ON THE EDGE OF THE PROMISE!
A FEW WEEKS AGO WE READ IN NUMBERS CHAPTER 14 ABOUT THE ISRAELITES CAMPING JUST ACROSS THE RIVER FROM THE PROMISED LAND.
GOD HAD DELIVERED THEM FROM EGYPTIAN BONDAGE.
HE SENT THE 10 PLAGUES.
PARTED THE RED SEA.
AND LED THEM THROUGH THE DESERT
RIGHT UP TO THE VERY EDGE OF THE PROMISED LAND.
THERE THEY WERE,
RIGHT THERE ON THE EDGE OF ENTERING INTO GOD’S BLESSING
AND THEY CHOSE TO DISOBEY GOD.
MY FRIEND; THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES TO EVERY DECISION WE MAKE.
IF THESE ISRAELITES WOULD HAVE OBEYED GOD
THEY WOULD HAVE ENJOYED GOD’S BLESSING OF A BOUNTIFUL AND FRUITFUL LAND.
THEY COULD HAVE TAKEN THE LAND JUST LIKE GOD HAD PLANNED FOR THEM TO DO.
BUT THEY REBELLED AGAINST GOD.
IN FACT THEY REBELLED SO BADLY THAT GOD WAS READY TO DESTROY ALL OF THEM AND RAISE UP A NEW NATION FROM MOSES’ SEED.
THE ONLY REASON THEY SURVIVED WAS BECAUSE MOSES STOOD IN THE GAP FOR THEM.
HE CRIED OUT TO GOD IN INTERCESSORY PRAYER AND CONVINCED GOD TO LET THEM LIVE.
BUT EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE ALLOWED TO LIVE,
THEY WERE FORBIDDEN TO ENTER THE PROMISED LAND.
THEY WERE DOOMED TO LIVE OUT THE REST OF THEIR DAYS IN THE DESERT THAT THEY HAD JUST CROSSED.
AND THEN THEY DISOBEYED AGAIN.
AFTER GOD SAID THEY WERE GOING TO DIE IN THE DESERT, THEY REBELLED AGAIN AND TRIED TO GO AHEAD AND TAKE THE LAND.
I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW REBELLIOUS THESE PEOPLE WERE!!!
THEY WERE SO REBELLIOUS THAT THEY EVEN REJECTED GOD’S SENTENCE.
THEY DECIDED THAT THEY WOULD GO AHEAD AND TAKE THE PROMISED LAND WITHOUT GOD’S HELP.
THIS FOOLISHNESS COST MANY OF THEM THEIR LIVES RIGHT THEN AND THERE.
PEOPLE HAVEN'T CHANGED MUCH,
WE STILL REJECT GOD'S PLANS
WE PLUNGE AHEAD DOING WHAT SEEMS RIGHT TO US
NOT REALIZING HOW CLOSE WE ARE TO DESTRUCTION.
I'LL SAY IT AGAIN, THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES FOR EVERY ACTION THAT WE TAKE.
2. ON THE EDGE OF EDOM
OK, NOW LET’S MOVE AHEAD IN TIME.
THE ISRAELITES ARE ON THE MOVE.
THEY’RE GOING BACK TO THE DESERT.
AS THEY TRAVEL ALONG THAT DUSTY ROAD THEY COME TO THE NATION OF EDOM.
NOW THE EDOMITES WERE THEIR RELATIVES.
THE EDOMITES WERE THE DESCENDANTS OF ESAU.
THEY WERE CALLED EDOMITES BECAUSE
EDOM WAS ESAU'S NICK NAME.
HE WAS COVERED WITH RED HAIR AND EDOM MEANS RED.
THE ISRAELITES WERE THE DESCENDANTS OF JACOB.
(JACOB'S NAME WAS CHANGED TO ISRAEL AFTER HE HAD WRESTLED WITH GOD ALL NIGHT AT BETHEL.)
IF YOU REMEMBER THE STORY OF JACOB AND ESAU,
JACOB CHEATED HIS BROTHER ESAU, OUT OF THEIR FATHER ISAAC'S BLESSING.
AND SO THERE WAS BAD BLOOD BETWEEN THE EDOMITES AND THE ISRAELITES
MOSES WANTED TO TAKE THE ROAD KNOWN AS THE KING'S HIGHWAY.
THIS KINGS HIGHWAY RAN FROM THE RED SEA, NORTH TO DAMASCUS PASSING THROUGH THE EDOMITE CITY OF SELA.
(SELA WAS LATER KNOWN AS PETRA)
MOSES WANTED TO TAKE THIS ROAD BECAUSE IT WAS THE EASIEST MOST DIRECT ROUTE TO WHERE GOD WAS SENDING THEM.
SO MOSES DID THIS:
14 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, saying:
“This is what your brother Israel says: You know about all the hardships that have come upon us. 15 Our forefathers went down into Egypt, and we lived there many years. The Egyptians mistreated us and our fathers, 16 but when we cried out to the Lord, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt.
“Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. 17 Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the king’s highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory.”
BASICLLY, MOSES SENDS A LETTER TO EDOM
HEY, BROTHER, HOW ABOUT HELPING US OUT HERE?
WE ONLY WANT TO PASS THROUGH YOUR COUNTRY.
WE DON'T WANT ANYTHING ELSE.
WON'T YOU ALLOW US THIS ONE FAVOR?
BUT EDOM WILL HAVE NONE OF IT.
THEIR REPLY TO MOSES WAS;
18 But Edom answered:
“You may not pass through here; if you try, we will march out and attack you with the sword.”
19 The Israelites replied:
“We will go along the main road, and if we or our livestock drink any of your water, we will pay for it. We only want to pass through on foot—nothing else.”
20 Again they answered:
“You may not pass through.”
Then Edom came out against them with a large and powerful army. 21 Since Edom refused to let them go through their territory, Israel turned away from them.
YOU’VE HEARD THE ADAGE,
WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND.
HERE WE SEE SOME OF THE FRUIT
THAT JACOB HAD SOWN OVER 400 YEARS EARLIER.
THE EDOMITES WERE STILL HOLDING A GRUDGE AGAINST THEIR BROTHERS BECAUSE JACOB HAD CHEATED ESAU OUT OF THEIR FATHERS BLESSING.
AND THEY WERE NOT ABOUT TO LET THEM USE THE EASY ROAD THAT PASSED THROUGH THEIR LAND.
CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT THE EDOMITES HELD A GRUDGE AGAINST ISRAEL FOR OVER 400 YEARS?
UNFORGIVENESS BETWEEN WORKERS IS BAD.
UNFORGIVENESS BETWEEN FAMILY MEMBERS IS SAD.
UNFORGIVENESS BETWEEN CHURCH FAMILY MEMBERS SHOULDN'T EVER HAPPEN.
BUT I KNOW IT SOMETIMES DOES.
OH MY FRIEND,
DO YOU REALIZE HOW DESTRUCTIVE A GRUDGE CAN BE
THE PERSON THAT IS HURT THE WORST IS THE PERSON HOLDING THE GRUDGE.
UNFORGIVENESS IS A POISONOUS WEED THAT GETS INSIDE YOU AND SOURS YOUR SPIRIT,
IT CREATES A NEGATIVE ATTITUDE THAT AFFECTS YOUR THOUGHTS & YOUR ACTIONS.
WHEN UNFORGIVENESS IS FULLY GROWN IT WILL KILL YOU.
DO YOU REALIZE THAT UNFORGIVENESS WILL KEEP YOU OUT OF HEAVEN JUST AS QUICKLY AS MURDER WILL?
ILLUSTRATION: A HUNGRY ENEMY
A WOMAN TELLS ABOUT AN EXPERIENCE THAT HAPPENED IN HER FAMILY WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG CHRISTIANS.
ONE EVENING WHEN THEY WERE HAVING FAMILY BIBLE READINGS THEY RAN ACROSS THE VERSE IN
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him" (Romans 12:20 RSV)
HER TWO SONS WERE 7 AND 10 AT THE TIME AND THEY WERE WONDERING WHAT THIS VERSE MEANT.
WHY WOULD YOU FEED YOUR ENEMY?
SHE AND HER HUSBAND SAID ALL THEY COULD THINK TO SAY. "WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BECAUSE GOD SAYS SO."
ONE DAY WHEN JOHN JR CAME HOME FROM SCHOOL HE COMPLAINED ABOUT A CLASSMATE WHO SAT BEHIND HIM IN THE 5TH GRADE.
WHENEVER THE TEACHER HAD HER BACK TURNED TO THEM THIS OTHER BOY WOULD JAB JOHN JR IN THE BACK.
JOHN JR SAID THAT ONE OF THESE DAYS WHEN THEY'RE OUT ON THE PLAY GROUND HE'S GOING TO JAB "BOB" BACK.
JOHN JRS MOM WAS READY TO MARCH RIGHT DOWN TO THE SCHOOL AND TAKE CARE OF THINGS WHEN JOHN JRS OLDER BROTHER SPOKE UP.
HE SAID, MAYBE JOHN JR SHOULD FEED HIS ENEMY.
ALL THREE OF THEM WERE STARTLED.
NONE OF THEM WERE ALL THAT SURE ABOUT THIS
THEY ALL LOOKED AT JOHN
THEN THEY SAID, WELL IF WE'RE GOING TO FEED HIM, WHAT DOES HE LIKE TO EAT?
JOHN JR SPOKE UP AND SAID, BOB JUST LOVES, JELLY BEANS.
SO THEY WENT OUT AND BOUGHT A BAG OF JELLY BEANS FOR JOHN TO TAKE TO SCHOOL THE NEXT DAY.
SURE ENOUGH, BEFORE TOO LONG, THE TEACHER TURNED HER BACK TO WRITE ON THE BLACK BOARD AND JOHN FELT THE FAMILIAR JAB IN HIS BACK.
HE TWIRLED AROUND AN PLACED THE BAG OF JELLY BEANS ON BOB'S DESK.
WHEN JOHN GOT HOME THAY AFTERNOOD HE RUSHED IN AND SAID, IT WORKED, IT WORKED.
BOB WAS SO SUPPRISED THAT HE DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING--HE JUST TOOK THE JELLY BEANS AND DIDN'T JAB ME THE REST OF THE DAY.
OVER TIME, JOHN AND BOB BECAME THE BEST OF FRIENDS.
JOHN JR AND HIS OLDER BROTHER GREW UP TO BECOME MISSIONARYS.
THEY OFTEN INVITED THEIR ENEMIES INTO THEIR HOMES TO SHARE MEALS WITH THEM AROUND THEIR OWN TABLES.
THEY SAY THAT IT SEEMS LIKE THEIR ENEMIES ARE ALWAYS HUNGRY,
WELL AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, THE EDOMITES STILL HELD A GRUDGE AGAINST ISRAEL AND WOULD NOT LET THEM PASS THROUGH THEIR COUNTRY.
MOSES WOULD NOT FIGHT AGAINST HIS BROTHERS SO HE LEAD THE ISRAELITES AROUND THE OUTSIDE BORDER OF EDOM.
THIS WAS THE HARDER ROAD TO TAKE.
SOMETIMES WE ARE FORCED TO TAKE THE HARD ROAD.
3. THE SNAKE ON A POLE
IT WASN'T LONG BEFORE THE ISRAELITES BEGAN SINGING THE SAME TIRED OLD SONG THAT THEY ALWAYS SEEMED TO SING WHEN THINGS GOT HARD.
The Bronze Snake
4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. (NIV)
IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU CAN SAY ABOUT THE ISRAELITES, IT'S THAT THEY WERE CONSISTENT.
THEY COMPLAINED ABOUT THE WATER,
THEY COMPLAINED ABOUT THE FOOD
AND THEY ESPECIALLY COMPLAINED ABOUT THE MANNA.
GOD HAD HAD IT UP TO HERE WITH THESE UNGRATEFUL REBELLIOUS PEOPLE.
SO HE SENT POISONOUS SNAKES INTO THEIR MIDST.
AND MANY OF THEM DIED FROM THE SNAKE BITES.
WHEN WE REBEL AGAINST GOD HE WILL SEND THINGS INTO OUR LIVES IN ORDER TO TURN US BACK TO HIM.
WHEN THE PEOPLE REALIZED THEY HAD SINNED AGAIN, THEY REPENTED OF THEIR SIN, AND MOSES PRAYED TO GOD,
GOD TOLD MOSES TO MAKE A BRONZE SNAKE AND PUT IT HIGH ON A POLE.
WHOEVER WAS BITTEN BY A SNAKE COULD LOOK AT THE BRONZE SNAKE ON THE POLE AND BE HEALED.
GOD OFTEN AMAZES ME!
HE HAS A WAY OF WEAVING THE SALVATION STORY ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE OLD TESTAMENT
DO YOU REMEMBER WHICH "ANIMAL" IT WAS IN THE GARDEN THAT TALKED ADAM AND EVE INTO TAKING A BITE OF THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT.
IT WAS THE SNAKE
THE SNAKE // IS A SYMBOL OF SIN
IT WAS THE SNAKE BITE // THAT BROUGHT DEATH
AND IT'S THE BITE OF SIN THAT BRINGS DEATH TOO.
REMEMBER IN THE GARDEN?
IT WAS THE SNAKE THAT TALKED EVE INTO FIRST TASTING THE FRUIT IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
IT WAS THE SNAKE THAT TALKED ADAM AND EVE INTO SINNING.
IT WAS THE SNAKE ON THE POLE THAT GAVE HEALING
IT WAS THE SIN ON THE POLE THAT GAVE HEALING.
IT WAS JESUS ON THE CROSS THAT GIVES US HEALING
IT WAS JESUS ON THE CROSS THAT GIVES US SALVATION.
JESUS BECAME SIN ON THE CROSS.
HE BECAME OUR SIN ON THE CROSS.
IF WE LOOK TO HIM
IF WE PUT OUR BELIEF IN HIM
IF WE ASK HIM TO FORGIVE OUR SINS
WE CAN BE HEALED.
HEALED OF OUR SIN.
HEALED OF OUR SELFISH SINFUL WAYS.
WE CAN BE FREE FROM THE WEIGHT OF SIN THAT WE CARRY.
JESUS HIMSELF TALKED ABOUT THE SNAKE THAT WAS LIFTED HIGH ON A POLE.
WHEN NICODEMUS CAME TO JESUS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
JESUS TOLD HIM;
John 3:14-21 (NIV)
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
MY FRIEND, ARE YOU AFRAID TO COME OUT OF THE DARKNESS?
HAVE YOU BEEN BITTEN BY THE SNAKE OF SIN?
IS THERE UNFORGIVENESS IN YOUR LIFE?
NOW IS YOUR CHANCE TO BREAK FREE FROM THE BONDAGE OF "THE SNAKE BITE".
NOW IS YOUR CHANCE TO LEAVE THE WEIGHT OF SINFUL ACTIONS BEHIND YOU.
JESUS BECAME SIN WHEN HE WAS ON THE CROSS,
JUST LIKE THE SNAKE ON THE POLE, IF YOU WILL LOOK ON HIM WHO WAS PIERCED FOR YOU,
IF YOU WILL LOOK TO HIM FOR YOUR SALVATION, THEN YOU WILL BE SAVED.