Look Up and Live!

bronze serpent The Bronze Serpent
From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. Numbers 21:4-9

So if you were bitten by a fiery serpent, all you had to do was look at the bronze serpent set on the pole in order to live and not die. We are not told how obedient Israel was in this matter but we can safely assume that some people did just that while others failed to believe it would make any difference… and died anyway. Like I say, we don’t know that for certain but we are given many, many examples of incomplete obedience. Now consider the parales: the fiery serpents represent sin. Because of our sin nature from birth we are all “bitten” by it and will die. All one must do to live is look in faith to the Lamb of God lifted up on the tree at Calvary. Look up and live, it’s as simple as that. And just in case it were possible to miss the symbolism of this Old Testament story, consider these words of Jesus:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:14-15

Aaron’s Golden Calf

golden calf“Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 

Begin by reading Exodus 32:1-6. The Hebrews demanded that Aaron make gods for them to worship and remarkably Aaron did so. Up until this point of the Exodus narrative Aaron had been as the spoken voice of God to the people of Israel. God would instruct Moses, Moses would share the commands with Aaron, and Aaron would in turn relay all that God had said to the people. They had all witnessed the plagues in Egypt, miraculously crossed the Red Sea, and trembled in fear as smoke and fire descended onto Mount Sinai. They had not yet received the written tablets but the words of the Ten Commandments had been spoken by God in Exodus 20. Before and after the commandments were listed all the congregation of Israel said together “All that you say we will do.” So why after all that would they risk provoking the anger of God by making an idol to worship? Continue reading

The Problem with Comfort Zones

comfortable chairI’ve heard sermons, lessons and seminars that advise Christians to do something for God and “get out of your comfort zone.” It gets really awkward when Ray Comfort does it. Carrying your Bible in public, praying over lunch in the school cafeteria and volunteering for short term foreign mission fields are all examples of what can only be done once we leave our comfort zone. While all of those and many other examples are great things that Christians should be doing, I’ve never like the expression. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone to get out of their personal comfort zone. My blog archives go back to 2008, check me on that if you’d like. Continue reading

Child of Two Worlds

Moses before PharaohMoses was born during the time the Hebrews were enslaved to Egypt, and male children were being thrown into the Nile.  Because Pharaoh’s daughter had found Moses floating in a basket and raised him as her own, he grew up in the house of Pharaoh.  Moses became the product of two cultures; his adoptive mother immediately identified him as Hebrew and found a Hebrew women to nurse him.  (Which just happened to be, if you believe in that sort of thing, his real mother.)  But he was raised as a prince of Egypt.  He had a crisis of identity when he saw a Hebrew being beaten by an Egyptian, one of his own people (Ex 2:11) and he struck and killed the Egyptian.  The very next day he tried to resolve a conflict between two Hebrews and was asked who appointed him as judge.  “Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”  The Hebrews rejected his leadership because they identified him as a member of Pharaoh’s house, and after learning of the Egyptian’s death at his hand Pharaoh sought to kill him.  This is when he fled Egypt for Midian, where he laid low for the next 40 years. Continue reading

Look at Who God Uses

I like to build to a point, but I’m going to come right to it.  Through the Bible God calls people into his service that are, for lack of a better term, screwed up.  No one used by God in some great way has their act together.  Consider a few examples; there are many others.

In Genesis 15:6 Abraham becomes the first person of faith.  He believed God, and God counted it to him as righteousness.  He is lauded in Hebrews 11 for having the faith to offer his son Isaac.  But before Isaac was born he father Ishmael by the Egyptian servant Hagar.  He lied twice about his wife Sarah was his sister.  A role model of faithfulness, perhaps not so much for other things. Continue reading

Multitasking Worship

My mother uses her cell phone for one thing, and that is to make and receive calls.  She has no camera, internet or mp3 player.  But let’s be honest, that isn’t how most of us do it.  Most of us are downloading music, texting, instant messaging, uploading pics, and some of us still talk once in a while.  We do business on the way to work.  We listen to audio books while on the treadmill.  Nobody does one thing at a time anymore.

Moses sees the burning bush in Exodus 3, and in verse 3 he says “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.”  Moses was doing his job as a shepherd when the sight of the burning bush got his attention.  He then turned aside; he put what he was doing on hold in order to pay attention to this curious sight.  He discovers God in the bush, and for the rest of chapter 3 and 4 does nothing but talk and listen to God. Continue reading

The Read and Share File

The Six Commandments?  A federal judge suggests that public displays of the 10 commandments can be made constitutional by removing the four that directly mention God or the Sabbath.  More here.

Tim Challies comments on The State of Preaching. Notice what he says about the Gospel.

Ridley Scott (director of Alien and it’s prequel Prometheus) says he plans to direct a Moses film. Scott is skeptical of all religion, calling it “the source of all evil.”

Chaplain Mike, of Internet Monk, takes a break from reformed theology and reminds us he has a sense of humor in Signs You May Have Hit the Wall.

I enjoy celebrating a good *blogiversary, and  Tall Skinny Kiwi just turned nine. 

It’s apparently been around for a while, but I just saw the Blue Like Jazz trailer this weekend (before watching MIB3).

*There is some disagreement on spelling.  I prefer blogoversary, the same way we spell blogosphere.  Blogiversary uses the letter i presumably to look more like anniversary; I used the same spelling in this post that Andrew used.  I’m probably overthinking it, one of the marks of a good blogger.