March 18, 2012
Fourth Sunday in Lent
Numbers 21:4-9

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

The gospel of saving grace is not complex or hard to understand. It is simple; and to make sure it is simple enough for a child, God declared it in picture language. (Read Numbers and add key verses from John.)

Imagine you were on that pilgrimage in the wilderness when the snakes attacked. You watch one after another of your neighbors succumb to the raging fever. Then a snake strikes you on the ankle. Your leg begins to swell and a burning fever rises. You stumble home to your tent and fall on your mat to wait the soon and inevitable end.

Suddenly a neighbor rushes in to tell you Moses has erected the bronze snake in the middle of the camp. Victims of snakebite are being miraculously and instantly cured simply by a look at the replica. What would you do?

I. A Story of Sin (v. 5).
The people spoke against God and His servant Moses. They charged God with bringing them out of Egypt to die in the desert when He delivered them from slavery to give them the Promised Land. Their own rebellion put them in the wilderness. They despised the daily manna from heaven. Isn’t it amazing how God’s grace can be despised and rejected?

All sin is against God, and all have sinned against God. Do you ever grow impatient with the way God seems to be taking you? Might it be your own willfulness setting the course?

II. A Story of Suffering (vv. 6-7).
Sin always brings suffering and ultimately death. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23).

Note the great therefore. Had they not suffered for sin, would they ever have sought a remedy? As the suffering Israelites, would we ever repent and confess our sins if the burden did not become more than we can bear?

III. A Story of Salvation (vv. 8-9).
How simple! “When anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived” (v. 9).

When Jesus visited with Nicodemus one night, he used this story from Numbers to explain to him the miracle of new birth. “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

This salvation is provided by God’s grace. It is free to all comers. It is a simple plan—just look and live. It waits for your response.

Let’s return to the scenario with which we began. Your friend now holds open the tent flap and pleads: “Look! Just take one look this way. See the sun glinting off the bronze? Please look. You need not die. You will be saved.”

You can make excuses for not looking, you can procrastinate until it is too late, or you can take God at His Word and look and be saved. What will you do?

In the days when congregations sang hymns and gospel songs at church, there was one based on this story written by William A. Ogden.

“I’ve a message from the Lord, hallelujah!
This message unto you I’ll give,
‘Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you ‘look and live.’

“Look and live,” my brother, live,
Look to Jesus now, and live…”

Share This On: