Summary: To lead the people to understand that they can be forgiven of their sin sickness and made whole by placing their faith in Jesus Christ.
The Bronze Serpent – Numbers 21:4-9
1. Aim: To lead the people to understand that the can be forgiven of their sin sickness and made whole by placing their faith in Jesus Christ.
Illustration:Chuck Swindoll reports that a seminary student in Chicago faced a forgiveness test. Although he preferred to work in some kind of ministry, the only job he could find was driving a bus on Chicago’s south side. One day a gang of tough teens got on board and refused to pay the fare. After a few days of this, the seminarian spotted a policeman on the corner, stopped the bus, and reported them. The officer made them pay, but then he got off. When the bus rounded a corner, the gang robbed the seminarian and beat him severely. He pressed charges and the gang was rounded up. They were found guilty. But as soon as the jail sentence was given, the young Christian saw their spiritual need and felt pity for them. So he asked the judge if he could serve their sentences for them. The gang members and the judge were dumbfounded. "It’s because I forgive you," he explained. His request was denied, but he visited the young men in jail and led several of them to faith in Christ.
2. Explanation of the Aim: Jesus Christ gives a perfect parallel explanation between what God did in healing the Israelites of their sickness when they trusted and obeyed and what will happen to everyone who believes in Him. Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:14,15) Help the people to understand that saying that we believe in Christ involves being willing to obey His commands. Just as the Israelites demonstrated their faith by obeying God’s directives by looking at the snake on the pole, so New Testament believers need to trust and obey God’s instructions as evidence of genuine saving faith.
3. The Bible Story: When the people of Israel complained against God, He sent poisonous snakes among them. Many of the complainers were bitten and died a slow painful death. Yet when the people repented for their sin against God and Moses, the Lord told Moses, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to the top of a pole. Those who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” (Numb 21:8) The people who looked at the snake were made completely well.
4. The Lord dislikes the sin of complaining because it is an expression of unbelief, disobedience and pride. When people fail to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks to God, they often start to grumble. The Israelites forgot all the miracles and goodness of God when they face hardships. Instead of trusting God for their provisions they complained and shouted at Moses saying, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness? There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this wretched manna!” (Numb 14:5) When people grow discontented it is an indication they have failed to praise God for the good things He has given them. Help the people learn the importance of trusting, obeying and thanking God in every situation no matter how difficult it may seem.
5. People who feel a deep sense of dissatisfaction utter expressions of grievances. Ask the people what they often complain about? Ask the people why they feel it is necessary to complain? Ask the people if they know the difference between a complaint and a legitimate request? Find out if the people know what God was displeased with their complaints about having no food or water? What are some of the root causes of complaints?
6. The BIBLE STORY teaches us how the Lord sent the punishment for sin (poisonous snakes) as well as the cure (the bronze serpent on the pole). Teach the people how placing saving faith in Jesus Christ will save them from their sins just as the Israelites were saved from death when they looked to the bronze serpent as an expression of their trust in God.
7. Ask the people why it is often a sin to complain against God or our authorities? Ask the people if they know why God was displeased when the Israelites complained about not having enough food and water? Find out if the people know what are some of the root causes of complaints? Discover if the people know why the Bible speaks against complaining people (Phil. 2:13,14)? Ask the people how they can place their faith in Christ and experience forgiveness, spiritual healing and eternal life?
8. Consider some of the problems involved in complaining. People who feel a deep sense of dissatisfaction utter expression of grievances. Ask the people what they often complain about? Ask the people why they feel it is necessary to complain? Ask the people if they know the difference between a complaint and a legitimate request? Find out if the people know what God was displeased with their complaints about having no food or water? What are some of the root causes of complaints?