Snakes on a Plain (Part 1)

October 1, 2012 at 10:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

Numbers 21:4

During the wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, there were times when God’s people encountered mountains and valleys, but many times they were on the “plain.” In our lives there are spiritual valleys and mountains. Sometimes life seems like a series of crises. You’re either in a valley, on a mountain, or heading up or down one or the other. But in reality, most of the time, we’re on the “plain.”

The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

Ecclesiastes 1:5

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

The plain seems like a safe place, but it can be dangerous. “Plain” has two meanings. It can mean “level ground” or it can mean “vanilla or ordinary.” On a plain you can see in all directions, so you can see trouble coming. Coming, that is, from everywhere but within. Even on a plain, it can be difficult to see trouble coming from within your own group of friends or from within ourselves. That is one of the reasons that the Bible tells us to be:

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Hebrews 12:15

And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.

Numbers 21:4-5

God’s people were complaining about the manna He was sending them even though manna was just what they needed and just what God wanted them to have. You can hear the whining in the description, “light bread.”

And the LORD sent fiery serpents …

Numbers 21:6

Theses fiery serpents are the “Snakes on a Plain” in the title of this lesson, and the first point is:

Snakes on a Plain: Snakes Produce Paranoia

If you were to list the most common “phobias,” three of the items on your list would probably be public speaking, going to the dentist, and snakes. “Paranoia” is the feeling that someone – or everyone – is out to get you, whether or not the feeling is justified. And the fact is, just because you are paranoid, it does not mean that someone is not out to get you. As Christians we have three main enemies: the devil, the world, and the flesh. These folks in Numbers chapter 21 were ungrateful, but, more than that, they were complainers. And even more than that, they lacked faith. Their reaction to these snakes on a plain was paranoia.

Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

Numbers 21:7

Notice, they didn’t come to Moses and say, “Where are all these snakes coming from?” They said, “We have sinned…” I can’t say enough bad things about sin, but if the snakes of sin – the fiery serpents of sin – are loose in your life, one of the results is that you are going to be paranoid.

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Proverbs 28:1

The people who came to Moses in Numbers 21 didn’t say, “We’ve been bitten, ask God to heal us.” They said, “Ask God to take them away.” They weren’t exhibiting faith – they were exhibiting paranoia.

Next time we will see that snakes produce poison.

Reverence in Marriage (Part 1)

June 1, 2011 at 10:33 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 10 Comments
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Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:25-33, emphasis added

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

I John 4:18

“Reverence” in Ephesians 5:33 is translated from the Greek word “phobos,” meaning “fear.” It might sound contradictory to you as a wife if I tell you that the Bible commands you to both love and fear your husband. However, fear does not cancel out “agape” love, which was described in a previous lesson. Think of it in terms of how you love God. We are commanded to love God and to draw close to Him. Drawing closer to God always brings greater love and fear.

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:34-40

The Pharisees had a theory that if they could know which commandment was the greatest, then they could keep that one and be right with God, and thereby earn eternal salvation. Jesus tells them that “agape” is the greatest commandment. Think about why this is. For one thing, it is impossible to sin while exercising true “agape.” “Agape” seeks to show kindness and to move the other person to righteousness.

When I John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear, the Bible is not contradicting itself. The fear that is being cast out by perfect love is the fear of no longer being right with the person who truly loves you. When I love my spouse perfectly, then my spouse’s insecurity about her “standing” with me is cast out. In other words, perfect love casts out fear of loss of the relationship.

This will be further developed in Part 2.

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