Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Brazen Serpent - A Reminder for Christians

References: Numbers 21:5-9, John 3:14

This is one of those Bible stories with powerful imagery. Much has been written about it, and I don't intend to dispute any of it. I only want people to see the correlation in what this image is saying, and some of what we are seeing in society today.

Some believe that what we are seeing in society isn't God's judgment. Let me begin by saying I do believe it is God's judgment. American society hasn't resisted the free-reign of sin in a long time. And American churches have become impotent and toothless in their defense of the faith. But I disgress on that point. Another day, perhaps.

In this story, Israel was in the wilderness. They had sinned by complaining to God.

As judgment, God sent highly aggressive snakes into their camps.

Now, when judgment falls, people repent. But as is typical, their repentance isn't sincere, but only a pretense to evade judgment. God saw right through the superficiality of their repentance, and refused to remove the snakes. Rather, he offered them a method of preservation. He instructed Moses to create a serpent made out of brass, place it on a long pole, and suspend it high in the air for all to see. As long as people kept their focus and attention upon the brazen serpent, the bites they received weren't fatal.

Therein lies the secret. God didn't end the suffering. God could have just as easily instructed those fiery snakes to become passive and leave the camp, or he could have destroyed them. But he didn't. He let them keep biting.

Perhaps someone reading this is in the same position. You have prayed for financial deliverance, physical healing, or various and sundry other needs with earnest faith, and yet your situation continues to grow worse. In other words, the snakes keep biting. Remember that the brazen serpent is still there for us to gaze upon. And as long as we keep the brazen serpent, Jesus Christ, straight in view, the venom of the fiery serpents will not be lethal.

This is something to be kept in mind in the days ahead. When your circumstances suddenly seem to become hostile, put your mind on Christ. Like the brazen serpent, he was suspended between Heaven and Earth, and was hung there that we "should not perish". I don't think God is as interested in removing the things that torment us as much as he is interested in whether we will maintain our focus on Jesus Christ in the midst of the torment. Remember Paul's thorn (2nd Corinthians 12:7-9)? Christ made no effort to remove it, only to remind Paul that it won't be fatal.

So when your environment does indeed become hostile to you, and the snakes begin to bite, don't waste your time attempting to evade the snakes or trying to fight. Just keep your eyes on Jesus Christ, and you will secure your survival of the otherwise lethal bites of the fiery serpents.

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