They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 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!" Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 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. 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." 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.
Snakes. Do you like them? Not many do. However, in some cultures snakes are held in high esteem as powerful religious symbols. Questalcoatl, the mythical " Plumb Serpent" was worshipped as the "master of life" by ancient Aztecs of Central America. Some African cultures worshipped the rock python and consider the killing of one to be serious crime. In Australia, the Aborigines associated a giant rainbow serpent with the creation of life. Other have associated snakes with medical power or rebirth. In India cobras are regarded as reincarnations of important people call nagras. Our modern medical symbol of two snakes wrapped around a staff or caduceus, comes from ancient Greek Mythology. According to the Greeks, the mythical figure Asculapius discovered medicine by watching as one snake used herbs to bring another back to life. However in Judeo- Christian cultures snakes are almost always symbols of evil. In the Garden of Eden it was the serpent that beguiled Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. The devil is call the serpent in Revelations 12:9; 20:2. In our text God sends into the Jewish camp fiery serpents, many were bitten and many died. Why would God do something like that? Well let us examine the context to discover just why. They had just been given the victory over king Arad, by the Lord. But instead of rejoicing they grew impatient and began to speak against God and Moses. They 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!"
I told you last week that God does not want to here your complaints! He wants to hear praise! They should have been thanking God for all He had done for them and not complaining. Somebody maybe thinking come on now Reverend there are sometimes in life were you just have to complain. Like when you have bills and no money. Like when your factory is closing. Like when your sons on drugs. Like when your daughter is having her third baby and is not married yet. Like when your husband ran off with a girl younger that your youngest child. Like when your wife sleeping with your best friend. Well how about this one you been wondering around in the desert for forty years most of your friends are dead, you had to eat the same food everyday, there is no water and you have on the same clothes and shoes. To me that seem like good reasons to complain! It must have seem so to them because they did. Let us look at this from God’s point of view. God brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand. God protected them with a cloud by day and led them with a pillar of fire by night. God provided food and water for them as it was needed. As their bodies grew God grew their clothing and shoes. God was leading them through this place to a better place. A place that they could have been living in for forty years if they had only put their trust in Him! God sent the fiery serpents into their camp because they refused to be a people of praise! Also because He wanted to give us an example of what will happen in our life if we refuse to become a people of praise! The fact is that many of us are snake bitten right now! God has been good to us but we wont stop complaining. He kept us alive a long time but we want stop complaining. He has opened doors that were closed in our faces but we wont stop complaining. He put bread on our tables but we wont stop complaining. He blessed us with a place to live but we wont stop complaining. We are snake bitten! This text has some good news for us. The narrative give us an equation for the cure of a snake bite.