Situation: Moses and the Israelites have been freed from Egyptian slavery by God and now they are between Egypt and the land of Canaan. They journeyed for 40 years because they kept failing to trust God. God has been very gracious to not kill them all in the desert because of their constant complaining after all he’s done for them. He fed them mysterious bread from heaven called “manna” and quail. He kept their shoes from wearing out and kept them all alive. So here’s the story.
They traveled along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Remember, kids, God graciously gave them this food. He did not have to. He could have just made them hunt and work for it, but he gave it freely. And he also could have killed them the first time they were ungrateful that he freed them from having to work night and day with no break in Egypt.
6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 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.
8 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.” 9 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, they lived.
Unless you are tempted to think of how stupid the Israelites are because they are so ungrateful, let me remind you of what you all do. You waste whole sandwiches because you want sugar. You have the rare opportunity to tour SunTrust Park but complain about being hungry and having to walk everywhere. And you continue to be mean to each other no matter how many times I have told you to treat each other the way you want to be treated. And lest I think too highly of myself, I actually do the same things. That’s why I get so mad when I see you do it.
Do you see how miserable and pathetic we are because of sin? We love ourselves so much that we think we are better than God. We want our way and not his way. And yet he still let us wake up today.
Jesus talks about this story to Nicodemus. John 3:14-15 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
But do you know how dark it is because of sin? It was impossible to come to God in our sin because we would burn in his anger. But what was impossible, God made possible. Just like he had mercy and let Moses make a bronze snake so that the people could look to it and be healed from their snake-bites, he also sent to us a Savior to die in my place for the sin I committed, and then Jesus lived so I could inherit his goodness.
This flashlight is made to shine. But what happens? Nothing. Let’s open the battery area. Nothing. What if I put coins and rocks in it? Still nothing. It needs batteries.
In the same way, you have no light or life without Jesus. We are dead in our sins and trespasses and cannot believe because we’re dead. Jesus has to make us alive. And if you believe and love our Lord, then he has done that. If you are hearing me tell you this, then you are being called and must respond.
And when you respond, you need to take the light of Jesus and share it with others. And the meaner that people are to you, the more they need that light and love that has changed you.
Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine so others can see it. Then they will see the good things you do. And they will bring glory to your father in heaven.
There was once a man named Jim Elliot. He and some men and their wives went to share Jesus with native Americans in South America. But these men did not want the light just yet, so they killed Jim and the other men. What did their wives do? What would you do if you were the wives? They came back to South America to share Jesus with the same men that killed their husbands. And they came to know Jesus and were saved from hell. When the children grew up, they had every right to kill the men who killed their dads. But they did not. They treated them like dads and loved them. We are to do the same thing to others.