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The Bronze Serpent

Numbers 21:4-9

Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. [5] And the people spoke against God and 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 miserable food." [6] And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. [7] So the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us." And Moses interceded for the people. [8] Then the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live." [9] And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived. (NASB)

The Singer sisters, say they have been loyal customers of Filene's Basement, an Ohio based discount chain, for years but recently received a letter from the chain of stores asking them not to return. David Sherer, Vice President of loss prevention wrote a letter to one of the sisters in May. He said, "Given your history of excessive returns and your chronic unhappiness with our services, we have decided that this is the best way to avoid any future problems with you and your sister."James McGrady, chief financial officer for the chain admits customer bans are "extremely rare."He noted that the sisters had returned an "incredible" number of items and said sales associates were spending too much time handling the sister's returns and complaints. McGrady added, "There comes a point in time when you say enough is enough on both sides." 

The sisters acknowledge they have returned many items and occasionally complained about the service and that they've had a few run-ins with store mangers, but neither sister felt their actions were excessive. (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

The Singer sisters had nothing on the Children of Israel. After years of oppression at the hands of their Egyptian captors, God sent Moses to deliver them. En route to the "Promised Land" God provided for their every need, yet they weren't satisfied with God's provisions. Verse five says, "And the people spoke against God and 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 miserable food.'" There is a reason we call them the "Children of Israel," listen to them-don't they sound like a bunch of spoiled children? In one place they say they have no food. OK, being without food is a reason to complain. But then they say, we "loathe this miserable food." So which is it? Do they have food or not?

Philippians 2:14-16a gives some good advise to everyone who tends toward being a complainer. It says, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…." (NIV)

God punished them for their complaining. He sent fiery serpents to bite them. Some say these snakes are called "fiery" because of their color, others because their venom burnt as it entered the body. We don't know for sure which it is, but we do know that their bite was fatal, and the punishment brought the people to their knees. Verse 7 says, "So the people came to Moses and said, 'We have sinned, because we have

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