Summary: This is a monologue sermon from the persepective of an eyewitness to the plague of snakes from Numbers 21:4-9. You will need someone to read the last verses of the sermon from the back of the church after you walk off.
Good Morning, I love meeting new people! I am glad to meet you. My name is Abraham, which, lately, I can’t help feel is more ironic that I ever realized it was. You see Abraham is the Father of all nations; he is person I was taught about by my Rabbi ever since I can remember. And the one word that people associate with Abraham is, “Faith.” I have not always been a man of great faith.
It has been a problem my whole life. Ever since I was born almost 40 years ago. My mom tells me that I was among the first babies born after we crossed the Red Sea. That the people rejoiced at my birth because I was among the first generation of those born free. We were no longer under the thumb of the Egyptian Pharaoh. We were no longer to be used as cheap labor and dehumanized and used as pack animals. There was so much to celebrate! God had just done miraculous thing after miraculous thing in order to save us. Thing were looking up for us as a people.
But the truth is, the rejoicing didn’t last very long at all. Soon we found plenty to complain about and plenty of reasons to grumble, and whine, and complain. Moses got tired of it. He would talk to God and refer to us as “Those people,” not as “my people, or your people,” but as those people. I remember my mom saying something similar once when I stole some my friend’s toy when I was a little kid. She looked at my Dad and said, “You won’t believe what your son just did!” Not “my son,’ or, “our son.” But “YOUR SON!” I could tell she was really frustrated with me. And even more so, we could tell that God was getting really frustrated with us as a people.
He had good reason to. It all started before I was old enough to remember. It was early on in our freedom from Egypt that God wanted to give us the Promised Land of Canaan. We sent 12 spies into the land to check it out and to see the wonder of the place God promised to give us. But there was a problem. 10 out of 12 of the spies came back and said, “We can’t attack those people, they are stronger than we are!”
Caleb and Joshua tried to tell us that God had promised us the land and would be faithful to give it to us. But the people started grumbling and weeping and complaining to Moses and Aaron saying, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the Lord brining us to this land only to have us die by the sword?” The Lord should have let us die out there in the desert. But he didn’t. He wanted to prepare us to go into the land with faith, and reliance upon Him so he did something drastic. He said you will have the Promised Land, but not before you wander in the desert for 40 years and see how I can take care of you.
And he did. He protected us from our enemies. When we were stuck in places without food, He gave us bread that fell out of heaven that we called Manna. When we needed water, he caused it to gush forth from the rocks of the desert. When were in danger, he protected us. All incredible miracles. All means by which God kept us alive when anyone else would have died. But the most awful thing of all, is how ungrateful we all were from time to time. Even after seeing God’s hand work directly in front of our own eyes, we still lacked faith, we were still ungrateful, we still complained against God.
The latest event however, was one of the worst. We had been wandering in the wilderness now for almost the entire 40 years and we were on out way to the Promised Land. Our spirits were high because we were approaching the Land of Edom. And once we got there among the Edomites we were sure these descendants of Esau, our distant relatives would give us safe passage into Canaan. We would be days away from the goal we had waited so long for. Just a few days journey along the easy road called the “King’s Highway.” But we were shocked to learn that this would not happen. The king of Edon rejected our request to go through his land and he even sent a huge detachment of troops out to ensure we didn’t try it.
We got angry. We were angry at the thought of being in the desert longer than we wanted. We were angry at the thought of having to travel one more hard mountain road. We were angry that we would not be eating the fruits and meats and Edom but once more would be relying upon a diet of manna, manna, and more manna. Worst of all, we got angry at God. I am so ashamed that I was among the complainers. I fed into this forgetfulness of all that God had done for me, for our people over these many years. I raised my voice 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 we loathe this worthless food,” I said.