Snakes on a Plain (Part 3)

October 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Posted in John, Luke, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Previously, we saw:

Snakes on a Plain: Snakes Produce Paranoia
Snakes among the People: Snakes Produce Poison

Now, we will see the Snake on a Pole.

snake on a pole

And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

Numbers 21:8

Notice first what God did not tell Moses. He didn’t tell Moses to get the people together and pass anti-snake legislation. He didn’t tell them to make an antidote or antivenin. He didn’t tell them to beat the rocks and the bushes and kill all the snakes. He didn’t tell them to start doing better, to start being more positive, to get happy, to change their attitude and everything would be alright. He didn’t tell them – and this is the best thing He didn’t tell them – He didn’t tell them that it’s too late, too bad, there’s no hope. No, He said make a brazen serpent – a serpent of brass or of bronze. Again, though, God did not then instruct Moses to go around and touch every person with it. Or to hide it in a box and tell the people to come pray to it. He told Moses to lift it up.

And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

Numbers 21:9

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:14-15

The snake had to be lifted up – and the people had to look. The famous preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon, related in his personal salvation testimony how powerful this truth was to him. Even a young child can look. But each snake-bitten Israelite in the wilderness had to look for himself or herself. Those who looked lived. Those who didn’t look died. Why would anyone not look?

The Snake on a Pole: Snakes Produce Parting

We might say the people were “parted” into those who looked and those who didn’t look. Some didn’t look because of rebellion: “I don’t have to do what you say.” Some didn’t look because of pride: “I’m not going to look foolish, staring at a snake on a pole.” Some didn’t look because of unbelief: “There’s no way it could be that simple – I’m strong – I can beat this poison on my own, and then I’ll be able to say that I deserved to live.”

It’s happening even now. There’s Jesus Christ – the Son of Man – the Son of God – God incarnate – God made flesh and blood – lifted up. You’re going to have to look with eyes of faith – we don’t have a brazen Savior mounted on a cross. The symbol of our faith is the Cross without Christ still on it – because His story didn’t end there. You’re going to have to admit that you need to look – and you’re going to have to actually look.

Why did God choose a serpent – an animal associated with sin – to also be a symbol for the Savior?

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

Jesus Christ was made sin on the Cross. Just as the snake on the pole produced parting, there will be a parting also produced by Christ on the Cross.

Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.

Luke 13:26

People are going to say that they knew about the “snake on the pole.” They heard about it in church. They ate and drank and took communion, observing the Lord’s Supper. They saw many crosses.

But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.

Luke 13:27

But Jesus will say that they knew “about” Him, but that they never “looked upon” Him – they never had faith that He could save them.

There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

Luke 13:28

There will be a parting. You can look away now, and be told to depart later. Or you can look to Jesus now, and live. Please don’t say, “I’m not in any kind of shape to come to Jesus … I don’t dress like a church person – I don’t talk like a church person – I don’t look like a Christian is supposed to look.” Christianity is not about what you look like. It’s about Whom you look to. God in His grace and mercy has allowed you to make it this far despite your sin and rebellion. Don’t walk away from His invitation and command with the poison still in your system. Look to Jesus today – look and live.

If you’ve already looked, what a world of good it will do you to look again. Look often – look every chance you get. There’s nothing more encouraging for a Christian who’s on a long journey home than to look upon the One Who saved you at the start.

Setting Up Your Own Place

October 27, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 7 Comments
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Saul was the first earthly king of Israel. Samuel was the prophet told by God to anoint him.

Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.

I Samuel 15:1-2

The Amalekites were enemies of God. They had picked off the stragglers when the Israelites were in the wilderness.

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

I Samuel 15:3

God sees what people are not able to see, and He always does what is right and best. In His providence, His command was to kill them all.

And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley. And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

I Samuel 15:4-9

Saul decided to keep, and not to kill, the “best” and the “good” and the “king.” He may have tried to rationalize this decision, but it is clear that his motives were not right, and, regardless, it was an act of disobedience.

Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.

I Samuel 15:10-11

Samuel stayed up all night praying for Saul and the people, just as he had promised he would.

And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

I Samuel 15:12, emphasis added

Saul “erected” a monument to himself. (Pardon me for being crude, but, despite those inappropriate pharmaceutical commercials that come on during sports programs, this episode of Saul’s is what I think of when I hear the term “erectile dysfunction.”) God gave him the victory. Saul killed everything small and worthless, but he kept the biggest, best, and most important. This is a picture of how we too often deal with sin. We’re tough on the “little things.” We don’t get drunk. We don’t use curse words. We try to be nice to our wives. But we spare the “king” of sin from our wrath: for some of us it might be pride, or some form of idolatry, or simple disobedience. We take control of our own lives, forget that anything good we’ve been able to do is because of God, and we erect a monument to ourselves.

Saul lied to Samuel:

And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?

I Samuel 15:13-17

Samuel accuses Saul, and it’s as if he’s saying, “God made you the king of God’s people, and you erected a monument to yourself?”

And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?

I Samuel 15:18-19, emphasis added

You may see yourself as doing something for God, when in His eyes you are just being greedy and lustful.

And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

I Samuel 15:20-23

Rebellion is like witchcraft. It is misplaced fear. It is misplaced consultation. It is self-worship. Stubbornness is like idolatry because it’s disobedience. It’s placing our own desire over what God desires.

Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.

I Samuel 15:32-33

Sin can’t be handled by just poking around at it. Like cancer, it should be exposed to the scalpel and cut out completely, or it might spread.


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