828 King's Highway, Suffolk VA 23432

757 255-4168 stjohns1755@verizon.net Worship Service: Sundays at 10:30am
Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Christian Education for Sunday March 18, the 4th Sunday in Lent; Numbers 21:4-9; The Bronze Serpent

March 18, 2012; 4th Sunday of Lent
Numbers 21:4-9
The Bronze Serpent
Theme: The end of the first generation of Israelites following the Exodus. The people continue to complain about God’s treatment in the desert, even in light of the unmerited blessings and providence in their life. The old and unfaithful generation will soon reach their final demise.

Background: Israel has been wandering in the wilderness; all the while God has provided for the people. Even when Israel grumbles at God he provides to meet their desires; often with an unexpected expense for the Israelites. The Israelite’s rebellion against God and Moses earns them punishment; a call for intercession by Moses on their part; and God’s renewed relationship with the nation of Israel. Moses is asked to intercede on behalf of the Israelites with God – ultimately preventing their immediate destruction.

Questions to Ponder

* Briefly describe the state of political, social, and religious affairs in Israel.

* What was the significance of Israel’s difficulties with Edom?

* For what reason was Israel forced to go around Edom as opposed to through it?

* Why do you think the Israelites were getting impatient?

* At whom is their complaint lodged this time?

* When compared with past complaints in the wilderness, how is this complaint different than previous ones?

* With what do they accuse God? How is their complaint internally inconsistent?

* The phrase “poisonous snakes” was recorded as “seraphim” or fiery snakes. What might the significance of Seraphim (fiery snake) be to the Israelites?

* What is ironic to you about Moses’ response to the Israelite’s call for his intercession?

* When Moses intercedes for the Israelites God tells Moses to make an image of a poisonous snake and put it on a pole. Would you consider this snake on a pole as an idol? Why might God make an idol to help restore Israel to health; especially considering the 10 Commandments tell the people to not make graven images?

* Why might God have provided an idol restore the Israelites to health and wholeness, even though they didn’t trust their Creator to do the same thing for them?

* The serpent on the pole appears to be identified as the means by which a person bit by a poisonous would live. It is possible to read this phrase as something that would take place at any time, not specifically in that moment. How does this appear to be inconsistent with what we know about God? How might this impression have gotten in the way of Israel’s relationship with the One, true God?

* Does the “serpent on the pole” get in the way of Israel in the future? If so how? If so what action is taken in that case?

* What is the significance of God’s action for the Israelites?

* How might we apply this passage to our life and ministry at St. John’s?

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