Serpent On A Pole
And Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole, and if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked to the serpent of bronze [attentively, expectantly, with a steady and absorbing gaze], he lived. -- Numbers 21:9
The Israelites had blown it. Again. They had an encounter with the Canaanites in the Negev. The Israelites asked God to deliver the Canaanites into their hands and He did. The Israelites completely destroyed them and their towns.
After that, the Israelites were on the move again (Remember -- they only moved when the manifest presence of God moved. They were looking at God's presence!). They quickly grew impatient and spoke against God and Moses. They got whiney. They blew it. So the Lord sent venomous snakes among them and many of the Israelites died.
Finally, the people confessed to Moses that they had sinned by speaking against him and the Lord. They asked Moses to pray for them. When he prayed, the Lord told Moses to make a bronze serpent, and raise it on a pole; anyone who had been bitten could look at the snake on the pole and live. If someone was bitten and refused to look at the bronze serpent he died. It was that simple. God's ways usually are quite simple, but we humans have a talent for complicating them. Each one of us has been snake bit, spiritually speaking. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But God has provided a way for us to recover from our snakebite. He raised His Son, Jesus, up on a cross that whoever would look to Him would be saved. It's that simple. So why do we complicate the beautiful simplicity of God's plan?
In the beginning we accept Jesus, accept His forgiveness and everything is wonderful. Then we start to get whiney. Why? Because we take our eyes off of Christ. I've done it. You've done it. We've all done it. When the going gets tough, the people get whiney. Rather than press in closer to God and obey His will, we take our eyes off of the Lord and begin looking at some of the worst examples we could possibly find -- other people. Then the venom of sin begins coursing through us once again. We begin to look for any excuse we can find not to follow God.
"Brother So-and-so still goes to R-rated movies. Why should I have to stop if he doesn't?"
"Sister Whosits still smokes! Certainly God doesn't expect me to quit if she's still smoking!"
"I hear people gossiping all the time in church. If they do it, I can do it!"
"This church is filled with hypocrites! I'll follow God on my own!"
PLOP! Did you hear that? Another child of God just fell dead in the wilderness because he took his eyes off of our one, true standard -- Jesus.
Rather than looking to imperfect people for our guidelines, let us keep our eyes focused on Jesus, our perfect example. As we come together as the body of Christ to praise and worship Him and hear the Word of God be preached, enjoy the fellowship and encourage one another in your relationships with the Lord. But above all, keep your eyes focused on Jesus, God's cure for our sin-sick world.