If you were to travel to western Jordan today and make your way to the top of Mt. Nebo, also referred to as Pisgah, you would be able to view the entire Jordan valley. This is historically where Moses looked over to view the Promised Land. Today you will find a structure there created by the 18th century artist Giovanni Fantoni. It is called the 'Serpentine Cross' and it stands as a memorial to two separate events in biblical history. We are carefully reminded by the writers of the New Testament that the people, places, and events recorded in the Old Testament are there as examples for us to learn from. Paul wrote, "Now all these things happened unto them (Israel) for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition". Today I would like to turn your attention to a very strange event that took place near the close of Israel's wilderness wanderings. As we view their sin, sorrow, and salvation; it will become very clear to us that the event pictures the redemption of man.
The children of Israel had failed to enter in to the land God had promised them. As a result of their lack of faith, God sent them into the wilderness to wander for forty years, until a new generation comes of age. Rebellion and dissatisfaction were characteristic of this people. That always comes about as a result of sin! Notice three things about Israel in this passage:
Read: Numbers 21:4-9
I. Their Sin.
A. Was against God Himself.
1. 'And the people spake against God'
2. All sin is ultimately against God.
3. We sin against God when we:
a. grumble about His workings in our lives
b. refuse to submit ourselves to His will
c. show more interest in the things of this life than in the life to come.
d. prefer the pleasure of the flesh to the profit of the soul.
B. Was also against the servant of God.
1. 'the people spake against God, and against Moses'
2. Those who hate God cannot love His people.
3. The more that we are like our Savior the more we will be hated by those who hate Him.
4. Jas. 4:4, 1 ... whosoever therefore will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God.'
C. Was against the provision of God.
1. 'Our soul loatheth this light bread'
2. The bread that they hated was the manna that God rained down from heaven for them.
3. Without that bread, they would have died...
4. God had provided manna, quail, and water from the rock time and time again.
5. God provided this world with the 'Bread of Life' but men still despise and reject Him just as they did God's gracious supply of manna.
II. Their Sorrow.
A. In affliction.
1. It was only when the Lord sent serpents among them that they came to themselves.
2. God always punishes sin!
3. Their condition is serious: snake bitten!
4. The result of their condition: many people died!
5. Ro. 5:12,"Wherfore as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
B. In repentance.
1. They confess their sins ... pray for deliverance.
2. Sometimes it takes the fires of affliction to bring us to our senses.
3. Ro. 10:9, 'That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.'
4. Ro. 10:13, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
C. In petition.
1. Notice that now they want Moses to intercede for them.
2. When men are truly sensible of their guilt, then are they conscious of their need of a mediator.
3. 1 Ti. 2:5, "...there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
4. He will intercede on our behalf... 'Father forgive them'
III. Their Salvation.
A. Was Divinely Appointed.
1. The Lord said, 'Make thee a serpent...'
2. Man cannot invent some remedy for sin; salvation is of the Lord.
3. By a serpent they have been bitten, by one in the form of a serpent they must be healed.
4. Man fell as a result of Adam's disobedience, and through the obedience of Christ man can be saved.
5. Jesus became sin for us that He might release us from its deathly grip.
B. Was Divinely Suitable.
1. 'Set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live'
2. Is. 45:22, "Look unto me, and be ye saved..."
a. look - the easiest possible thing to do.
b. unto me - the greatest possible person.
c. be ye saved - the greatest possible blessing.
3. The same eyes that had looked upon God's provision with disgust now looked upon God's provision with faith and received life.
4. God made salvation simple as can be; all they had to do was look up by faith to the serpent that had been lifted up.
C. Was Divinely Effective.
1. 'any man, when he behold the serpent of brass, he lived'
2. None looked in vain ... none will perish that trust Him
3. It didn't matter how many serpents had bitten them, or whether they were rich or poor, young or old.
4. As they looked; they found healing and life!
Jesus confirmed that this event only foreshadowed His own crucifixion. What a wonderful Old Testament picture of salvation in Christ.
(John 3:14-15) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
All of us have been poisoned with sin
. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" Ro. 3:23.
But salvation can be ours if we would only look to Jesus in faith.
'He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life', Jn. 3:36.
This morning are you saved? Have you looked unto Jesus? He is the only one who can save your soul. If you are saved this morning, are you pointing others to Him? There is no other way... Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (Jn.14:6)