Look and Really Live – part 1
Israel had been on a journey in which God had done amazing things to care for them. The story begins in Numbers 21:4.
But as they traveled around the land of Edom, some of the people became very discouraged. It was rough terrain, they had no water, and the food was the same every day. Perhaps worst of all, they were headed away from the Promised Land.
This is a story for us! We have discouragements – we don’t have it perfect – and God put this story in the Bible so we could understand that He will take care of us.
Eventually they forgot God’s provision for them and began to complain. They spoke against God and Moses. They said they’d rather have stayed in bondage than be here.
Complaining infiltrates families, churches, businesses – it creates an atmosphere that stunts Christian growth.
God’s response was to send poisonous snakes among the people. Many were bit. Many died.
Ellen White adds detail: those snakes were already there. But God had prevented them from biting the people.Could it be that in our life, there are things the devil would like to use to hurt us but God says, “No?” Revelation 7 says angels are holding back the winds of strife. When we get to Heaven, we will see how God protected us.
My mother taught me that if you choose not to follow God and go your own way, you might not survive. That’s why we never want to put ourselves in a situation where the angels of God cannot go with us.
It didn’t take long for the people to change their tune. “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord for us!”
Many of us have the same story. We shouldn’t be here, but God had mercy and kept us alive.
God’s answer was to have Moses make a brass serpent and set it on a pole. If someone was bitten and he or she looked at the brass serpent, he would live.
In order to live, people had to look away from their problem to the serpent. It was the look of faith. And as the Bible says, “they lived.”
God wanted this story to be an illustration of the plan of Salvation. The snake is a symbol of Jesus Christ. He “became sin” for us that we might have His righteousness. Jesus brought this up in his visit with Nicodemus. In John 3:14, He said He would “be lifted up” just like Moses’ serpent.
Our part is to look at Him. The look of faith.
Romans 3:23 says we’ve all been bitten – “All have sinned.” What have you done with the remedy, with Jesus Christ?
I can hear you saying, “You don’t know how bad I’ve been.” But I know God doesn’t give up. Today He invites you to look to Him. Whether you never had Jesus, or you lost your relationship with Him, look and live.
This process has two steps:
- You must stop looking at others. Often we hear, “My child left because of something somebody in the church did.” If we look at others in the church, it’s easy to lose our connection with Jesus.
- Look away from yourself. The secular world is all about self-fulfillment. Scripture says to look the other way – at Jesus. Don’t get wrapped up in the world. The world can’t meet the needs of your heart.
I can’t do it. Right! Just like the ancient Israelites, our job is not to “do” it ourselves – it is to look to Jesus.
As the song says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus…and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.”
Look and really live!
Adapted from Mickey Mallory's sermon on 9/8/2012 by Barbara & John Beckett.
Former Pastors Pages can be seen in the archive.