Jesus is the sinless image of God was high and lifted up on the Cross. All who poisoned with sin only need to look up at Jesus to be healed.Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
**not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript**
PART FOUR: HAVE TO CALL THE WITCH DOCTOR
4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the 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 desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food! 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 have 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, he lived. (NIV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
During this season of Lent, we are taking a different path on our journey to Resurrection Sunday. Most sermons during this time focus on the gospels, specifically Jesus’s journey to the Cross. While His suffering is something we should remember, what does it all mean? How is it connected to the Bible as a whole? For this reason, we have been looking at Old Testament passages that reveal moments when God says, “Never again” and how His words are affirmed through Jesus.
Our passage today focuses on God’s chosen people trying to make it to the Promised Land. Tragedy finds them and requires national healing. To solve this problem, the Israelites do not look to the ghostbusters, Obi-Won Kenobi, or a witch doctor. As we look at this passage, we will try to answer the question, what about me and my problem?
IN THE TEXT
***(v4-5) GRUMBLED AND COMPLAINED***
The Israelites are taking the long way around to the Promised Land, all because the Edomites would not let them pass through their country. Now the terrain they traveled was not easy, carrying all their belongs. For an entire nation, there was not enough food or even water to sustain them. But God had provided them with manna from heaven and water from rocks.
After a while though, the Israelites grew tired of the manna. They went to Moses and said, “We ain’t had nothing but maggoty bread for three stinkin’ books of the Bible!” God had provided them with food, and the Israelites called God’s provision sickening and worthless.
A key word to fully understanding the Israelites’ attitude is in verse 4. “But the people grew impatient.” They were complaining not because the manna tasted bad, but because they were sick of not being able to take care of themselves. And if they could just get to the Promised Land, there would be enough there to not need miracles from God to sustain them. This desire for self-sufficiency and to “get what was theirs” poisoned their attitude toward God and Moses.
***(v6-7) SINNED AND PRAYED***
The Israelites’ impatience led them to hissing and spewing out venomous words aimed at God and Moses. God’s good gifts were corrupted by their poisonous attitudes. They were ungrateful, behaving like that old serpent the devil. In response, God sent venomous snakes among them.
They sinfully hissed at God and Moses, then their sin literally hissed back at them. Worse than that, the snakes started biting people. These snakes were poisonous enough to kill them. Recognizing their sin, the Israelites go to Moses and say, “We hate the snakes, Moses. We hate the snakes. Pray to God and tell Him we are sorry.” Even though as a nation they sinned against God, they knew God was their only hope.
***(v8-9) LOOKED AND LIVED***
Despite their ungratefulness and venomous words, God hears the nation’s repentance of sin. And God steps into help them. In verse 8, God tells Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole.” If anyone was bit, all they had to do to be healed was make the decision to look up at the bronze snake. Faith enough to look up would bring healing.
To be clear, it was not the bronze snake that healed the Israelites. This bronze snake was not a magic trinket or under a spell from some witch doctor. When an Israelite who was bitten looked up at the snake, it was a reminder to them that God healed them. Faith enough to look up to the Healer would bring healing. Verse 9 tells us that this method worked.
FROM THE TEXT
How does this answer the question of “what about me and my problem?” The words of Jesus in John chapter 3 reveals to us how God says to us “never again.” Right before the most famous verse in the Bible, Jesus says, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” (John 3:14-15) Jesus connects His death on the Cross with the snake on a pole that brought healing to the Israelites.
The snake on the pole was not a real snake. Verse 8 of our passage records “Make a snake.” Whenever the people were bit by the real venomous snake, they had to have enough faith to look up at the snake that was on a pole and venom-less. That venom-less snake on a pole was reminder they were looking up at God to be healed from the consequences of their sin.
Jesus is God in the flesh. The same God who created us as a reflection of His image. We sinned and corrupted that image inside of us. Sin bit us like a venomous snake, filling our race with agony, destruction, and death. And even though it was the consequences of all our sin, Jesus the sinless image of God was high and lifted up on the Cross. All who are poisoned with sin only need to look up at Jesus to be healed from sin. Not merely forgiven of sin, but freed from its grip.
BEYOND THE TEXT
Great, Pastor, Jesus died for my sin. I get it. But how does that answer the question, what about me and my problem? You want to know how to be healed from your addiction, heartache, depression, hatred, physical illness or limitations, and any other piece luggage you are hauling through life. Sin, either through your own choices, someone else’s choice, or being in a sinful world has bitten you with its poison and you want to be healed.
Look up. Have enough faith to simply look up at Jesus, the Savior who was high and lifted up. Jesus was not simply a curtain to veil us from the wrath of God. He is the conduit of God’s love that is capable to bringing healing to every aspect of your life. Never again will you need to call the witch doctor or seek his venom-laced solutions, you can look up to Jesus! Whether it is by medicine or science, taking you home with Him , or a divine touch is God loves you and wants to heal you.
As the people of God, we believe in divine healing. So, if you are here poisoned by your own sinful choices, look up! Jesus can heal you. If you want to be healed from your addiction, heartache, hatred, a physical aliment, or any other poison of this world, look up! Have enough faith to look up to the Healer.
Season 1 Episode 33, "Most important question." The text for the message is from Mark 8:27-30, part 1 of a series called The Son of Man. The question we are trying to answer is "What is the most important question?"