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Summary: "See You at the Pole" by Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey is a message to provide encouragement to saints in the evangelizing of sinners.

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See You at the Pole

Numbers 21:4-9

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey

INTRODUCTION

Students all across America gathered around the flagpole for prayer at the annual “See You at the Pole” event on Wednesday, September 26, 2007. This student-led event that began 17 years ago in Burleson, Texas, was actually not the first time people gathered around a pole to express their faith as we discover in the account of Numbers 21:4-9.

I. The Sojourn by Israel (Numbers 21:4a)

“Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. . .” (Numbers 21:4a).

The children of Israel were on a journey to the Promised Land and at this point they were heading southward away from Canaan, their desired destination. The Israelites went around and around and around in circles. They sojourned 40 years in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan.

II. The Souls of Israel (Numbers 21:4b-5)

“and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread’” (Numbers 21:4b-5).

Notice the word translated “soul” in verse 4 where we read the “soul of the people” and in verse 5 “our soul”.

They were discouraged and discontented. They called the “manna”, a.k.a. “angel food”, “worthless bread”. This is base ingratitude. This line from William Shakespeare’s King Lear (1605) comes to mind, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is / To have a thankless child!”

The Israelites longed for “the fleshpots of Egypt” in “the good old days.” Franklin P. Adams (1881-1960) is credited with saying, “Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.”

III. The Sovereign over Israel (Numbers 21:6)

“So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died” (Numbers 21:6).

Charles Haddon Spurgeon shares, “What an awful thing it is to be bitten by a serpent! I dare say some of you recollect the case of Gurling, one of the keepers of the reptiles in the Zoological Gardens. It happened in October 1852. This unhappy man was about to part with a friend who was going to Austalia, and according to the wont of many many he must needs drink with him. He drank considerable quantities of gin, and though he would probably have been in a great passion if any one had called him drunk, yet reason and common-sense had evidently become overpowered. He went back to his post at the gardens in an excited state. He had some months before seen an exhibition of snake-charming, and this was on his poor muddled brain. He must emulate the Egyptians, and play with serpents. First he took out of its cage a Morocco

venom-snake, put it round his neck, twisted it about, and whirled it round about him. Happily for him it did not arouse itself as to bite. The assistant-keeper cried out, ‘For God’s sake put back the snake!’ but the foolish man replied, ‘I am inspired.’ Putting back the venom-snake, he exclaimed, ‘Now for the cobra.’ This deadly serpent was somewhat torpid with the cold of the previous night, and therefore the rash man placed it in his bosom till it revived, and glided downward till its head appeared below the back of his waistcoat. He took it by the body, about a foot from the head, and then seized it lower down by the other hand, intending to hold it by the tail and swing it round his head. He held it for an instant opposite to his face, and like a flash of lightning the serpent struck him between the eyes. The blood streamed down his face, and he called for help, but his companion fled in horror; and as he told the jury, he did not know how long he was gone, for he was ‘in a maze.’ When assistance arrived Gurling was sitting on a chair, having restored the cobra to its place. He said, ‘I am a dead man.’ They put him in a cab, and took him to the hospital. First his speech went, he could only point to his poor throat and moan: then his vision failed him, and lastly his hearing. His pulse gradually sank, and in one hour from the time at which he had been struck he was a corpse. There was only a little mark upon the bridge of his nose, but the poison spread over the body, and he was a dead man. I tell you that story that you may use it as a parable and learn never to play with sin, and also in order to bring vividly before you what it is to be bitten by a serpent. Suppose Gurling could have been cured by looking at a piece of brass, would it not have been good news for him? There was no remedy for that poor infatuated creature, but there is a remedy for you. For men who have been bitten by the fiery serpents of sin Jesus Christ is lifted up: not for you only who are as yet playing with the serpent, nor for you only who have warmed it in your bosom, and felt it creeping over your flesh, but for you who are actually bitten, and are mortally wounded.”


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