February 20, 2010

Num 21-22: The Snake and the Donkey

Posted in Disobedience, Sin Nature tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:51 pm by Steve

Raising up the brass snake is a metaphor that Jesus uses to describe his own sacrifice. When the people complained and grumbled against God’s grace, snakes infiltrated the camp and began inflicting pain and suffering on the people. Moses was instructed to raise a brass snake on a pole. The brass snake was raised, not to drive out the snakes, but to heal any who had been bitten by them and experienced their venom.

NOTE: Brass is an alloy of two metals, copper and zinc, and is often associated with sacrifice and sin.

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:14-15

Now, someone in that situation, with the threat of death looming close, might feel that surely he must actively do something to rescue himself from the effect of the poison.  But the Lord was showing that He must do the work.  Every snakebite victim in that particular circumstance in the wilderness was to take the passive role of trusting the Lord for the miracle of healing.  He was to merely believe God’s words, and show his trust by looking to that one way of rescue that the Lord had made available, the brass snake on the pole.  He may not have fully understood.  He may have thought it foolish.  He may have considered it an insult to his intelligence.  He may have thought such a simple act woefully inadequate.  But regardless of what one might think, the Lord had spoken!  To refuse, quite frankly showed one’s prideful rebellion against the Lord and His words.  To refuse showed one’s stubborn insistence upon trusting himself and his own inadequate resources.  To refuse was to perish! Only God’s miraculous power could reverse the effects of that poison.  Every effort of man to save himself failed and resulted in certain death.  But every soul who humbly believed God’s promise there in the wilderness, and showed his faith by looking to that brass snake, was instantly healed.

Why do you suppose God didn’t drive out the snakes?

Does it make a difference that God provides a cure without destroying the curse?

What is the snake whose venom we suffer under and for which Jesus is the cure?

In the story of Balaam and the donkey I think part of the message here is that sometimes circumstances that make us angry and frustrated often protect us from other more dangerous harms. Balaam beat his donkey three times before he understood that his donkey was actually protecting him from dangers he could not see.

Have you ever been angry and frustrated things didn’t go as you had planned, only to find out later it would have been disastrous if they had?

February 10, 2010

The Land and the Covenant with a Treacherous and Hostile People.

Posted in Adolescent, Consequences/Blessing, Consequences/Curses, Covenant, Faithfulness, Father, Forgiveness, Love, Restoration, Sin Nature, Teacher, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:08 pm by webpastormike

40 ” ‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers—their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. 44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God. 45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD.’ “

The land will lie desolate without them.

Seventy years of desolation is the closest thing to rest that the land could have while the punishment of the covenant was justifiably doled out to the treacherous and hostile people whom the LORD had chosen.  He made the covenant and refused to break the covenant because of His relationship with Himself.  He could not be unfaithful.

While you and I go through our times in the land of our captivity, the land of our promise is being healed.

The land needs it healing because of what we and our fathers have done in and to the land.  We have been little schemers.. treacherous and hostile toward those whom we were and are required to be in right relationship with. Right relationship with God and right relationship with the poor and the widows and the orphans and our families, and our employees and all our other neighbors.

Have you ever had a family member take advantage of you?  I have.  Have you ever taken advantage of a person who needed your grace instead of your greed?  Can you recall the treachery of a trusted friend or spouse?  All of these kinds of things add up to hostility and treachery toward God, the land and God’s people.

You may linger in an adolescent attitude of “fairness” and whine on about how you should not be struggling today, it is not your fault that people who are supposed to be living as covenant people, instead chose to be selfish and idolatrous.  “Why should I have to suffer?”

Well here is a revelation.  We are connected.  What I do impacts others, and not just close people, but people who I will never meet, both in space and in time.  You never met a Nazi, but what a few people did (and are doing) has consequences for you.  The same thing is true for the woman who is cheating on her covenant of marriage… a covenant made with God, a covenant made with her husband, and a covenant made with the children of that union, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, classmates, friends and spouses of those children.  The woman makes a covenant with her grandchildren at that moment before the man of God in the house of God in the inheritance God gives.

We are living fools.

Treachery and hostility cannot be contained.God makes it plain that what you do hurts people.  There is no such thing as a victimless adultery.  Your little fling, your little indiscretion, your secret affair, your whispered ear tickling words… KILL.  Yes a gossip is a covenant breaking evil that destroys lives.

40 ” ‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers—their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant … I am the LORD.’ “

YOU do not need to wonder where all the prosperity went.

YOU do not need to be anxious about whether or not there will be prosperity tomorrow… count on it.. there wont be prosperity until we confess and repent.  We must turn away from everything that is not an all out Love that imitates Jesus Christ.

YOU are witnesses to the destruction that this government is perpetrating on us.  Well consider that we are getting what our sins deserve.  And the land is getting what it deserves… rest.  We have been carried into captivity by the very desires that we cherished in our little houses of self worship.  Well now the great adolescent is in charge, the king of our captivity.  And I am not talking about the fool we elected to the white house, I am talking about the fool we elected to serve in our hearts.  Yes the king of fools is you.

De throne that idiot.

Let’s pray:

Our Father in Heaven.  We have played at life and let a little loudmouth brat play king of the hill with Your precious Inheritance.  Now we are paying the price for our stupidity.  I know so little about being in covenant with You or even being in covenant with my neighbor, and it is costing me this war.  What little I do know, I have rejected for some ridiculous fleshly desire, some temporary triumph.  I have given up what I need, in order to gain what I do not want.  I am a sin-filled-fool.  Now that I am here in the land of my captivity, I see, just a glimpse of the sin that put us here.  For that, and the sin that I do not see, I confess.  My sins and the sins of our forebearers, the plans we made were our own and the selfish ways we lived created the hell hole that is now our impossible captivity.  We hated you because you did not cherish our brat-selves.  Forgive us, forgive me.  I want to know you.

7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

You must have a plan that will bring us back from captivity, into a land that has had its desolation-rest.  Like Daniel I pray, and like Paul I pray that this life and this nation’s life will be brought back from captivity with a new heart that is righteous in Christ by faith.  Do Lord, whatever is in your heart in and through this pitiable life through the Spirit and not through the flesh.  Amen.