Even So Must the Son of Man Be Lifted Up
The ancient Romans record an event from the life of Nero Caesar. It seems that he had planned an outdoor party for his closest friends, but on the day of the outing it was rainy and miserable. In anger, Caesar ordered his guard and guests to shoot arrows into the air in hopes of hitting Jupiter. Their arrows found a target right enough but it was not Jupiter. Many of Nero’s friends were struck and killed as the arrows returned to earth.
Thomas Brooks once wrote that our mutterings and complaints are like arrows shot at the heart of God. For our impudence, He allows our complaints to fall back upon our own heads. There is no doubt that a dissatisfied spirit causes God displeasure. In the example of our text, the Israelite people had chosen to wander in the wilderness rather than conquer the land God had promised. You may have wondered why God caused Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened against Israel? I believe He did so to prevent Israel returning to bondage in Egypt. Not even Moses could have kept the people from running back to slavery had there been any hope of Pharaoh’s forgiveness.
Life in the wilderness had proven very difficult. Imagine moving the populations of Davidson, Williamson, and Shelby Counties from one place to another for forty years and you will have some idea of the logistical nightmare Moses faced everyday. Even the slaves of Egypt had an easier life than that of the Bedouin and so they began to complain.
Because of their complaints, God lifted His hand of protection and allowed poisonous snakes to enter the camp. It didn’t take much of that to get their attention and bring them to their knees. God commanded Moses to make a brass snake and put it on a pole in the midst of the camp. Those looking upon the brazen serpent (with faith) were healed.
Because we are free moral agents, God will not impose His will upon us. Instead, He presents us with options and relies upon our good sense and our love for the right to do what is best. I want to use this text as an example of what can and will happen when a people reject God’s will. There are a number of serpents we should be wary of!
I. The Serpent of Pride
A. Causes us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought
B. His bite produces willfulness and the “want more syndrome”
C. People proclaiming their rights and making demands of God
II. The Serpent of Lust
A. Causes people not to think clearly or rationally
B. His bite drives people to satisfy their every desire – no matter how selfish or sinful
III. The Serpent of Excuse
A. Causes individuals not to see the truth even as it stares them in the face
B. His bite provides a multitude of excuses for not coming to Christ or doing what God requires for His blessing.
IV. The Serpent of Doubt
A. Causes a fever of questioning and despair
B. His bite erases the memory of past deliverance and leads the victim to disbelieve God’s power and promises
V. The Serpent of Apathy
A. This serpent is most to be feared for his venom produces a euphoria that convinces men that all is well
B. His bite leads men to believe that there is plenty of time to get done all that needs doing
There is a remedy for each of these serpent bites. Jesus must be lifted up and exalted! There is life for a look at the Savior!