What does a person have to do to have their sins forgiven so that they can live with God forever?
Do you ever sin? Of course you do.
The Hebrew people in the Bible sinned all the time too. God had led them out of slavery in Egypt and all the way back to the Promised Land, and, as we learned yesterday, they still couldn’t trust God enough to follow him into that land. That’s sin.
And so God told the people that they would have to stay in the desert for 40 more years. Wandering from place to place, learning to trust God.
Now in the desert there’s not always a lot of food to eat is there? And so God would make food called manna fall down from the sky for the people. It was like little pieces of sweet bread. And every day the people would collect and eat their manna. But after a while the people got sick of the manna. And then they got angry at God and started to complain again. Listen to what happened next:
Numbers 21:5-9. 5 And the people spoke 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.” 6 Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7 And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
This story is about more than just the Hebrews in the desert. It’s about all of us. It shows how sin has affected every single person and how every single person can be saved.
- Like the Hebrews, God is good to us and provides for all our needs.
- Like the Hebrews, we complain about what we have. We want more than what God has given us. We reject God’s good gifts to us. We think we’re our own boss. This is called sin.
- Like he did with the Hebrews, God must punish our sin. The Hebrews were bitten by snakes and died. We all deserve to be punished just like the Hebrews in the desert deserved to be bitten by snakes. God is perfect and fair and can’t be around our sin unless it is forgiven.
- Like the Hebrews we have to admit that we have sinned against God. We have to want God’s forgiveness.
- And, just like he did in the desert, God has made a way for us to be forgiven and saved from sin’s punishment of death. In the desert he had Moses lift up a bronze serpent on a pole. If the people looked at that bronze snake on the pole they would be healed and live. They would be forgiven of their sins by this act of simple faith.
A long time later Jesus would use this same story to explain how we must have faith in him. Listen to what Jesus said:
John 3:14-15. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Jesus, like the bronze snake, was “lifted up” on the cross for us. Just like the people had to believe that if they looked at that snake they would live, we too have to believe that if we trust in what Jesus has done for us on the cross we will be forgiven and live.
Jesus ALONE must be what we are trusting in to be saved.
Because of Jesus we can be forgiven of all our sins.
With Jesus we can always trust that God is taking care of us.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Get out the clay or Play-Doh and role it into snakes. Wrap the snakes around sticks or straws. Let your simple “sculptures” be a reminder of simple faith.
Talk about how the only thing the people had to do to be saved was look at the snake and believe. This might be a great opportunity to see if your children want to receive Christ’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
I know that I have sinned, and I believe that you died on the cross for my sins. Thank you for forgiving me so that I can live with God forever. I want to receive your eternal life.
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