Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Ridiculousness of Faith


Last night I happened to walk into the living room while a popular Canadian t.v. host program was finishing up.  I wasn’t paying much attention to it until I kept hearing the word “God”.  When I realized they were talking about a ‘god’, not just cursing, I began to listen.  When I realized they were vehemently mocking God, on national television, I began to feel nauseous.  Then angry.  Then completely heart-broken.

And I have to say it affected my reading time this morning as I read about the bronze serpent in Number 21:4-9.

"They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”  So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived."

The Israelites, in their seemingly aimless wandering, are fed up with this pointless endeavour, and with the food God has faithfully provided for them, as if they could do something better for themselves.  In his anger against this hard-hearted, unbelieving nation, God sent poisonous serpents (snakes) into the camp.  The people came to Moses, not God, asking him to take away the snakes.  They confessed the fact that their actions were sinful, but notice, they didn’t ask for forgiveness, they just wanted the consequences of their sin removed.

God answered Moses’ prayer, but God didn’t take away the serpents.  Instead He provided a means for those who were bitten to be saved and not die.  If someone was bitten, all they had to do was look to the bronze snake on the pole and they would live.  Simple.

I’m sure it sounded ridiculous to the Israelites.  Something so easy; too simple really.  For how does looking at something keep me from death by poisoning?

It doesn’t.  It’s the faith in the looking that saved them.  It’s the believing what God said that kept them alive.

I can’t help but wonder, when I look at our world today, how many proud Israelites died of snake bites after that day.

How many thought, “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of and I’ll look after this wound myself, thank-you-very-much.  I’ll not look like the fool trusting in a bronze snake glance to remove poison in my body!”

The Bible doesn’t tell us the answer to that question, so we don’t know.  However, how many people over the last 2,000 years have rejected the Son of Man who was lifted up on a cross?  All one has to do is look to Him, believe in Him, and one will be saved.  Yet most won’t.

Jesus said, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:14-15

You see, in the desert, a bitten Israelite had to admit he had been bitten by a serpent and that he was going to die and there was nothing he could do about it, as poison seeped further into his system with each heart beat.  
 
A simple look toward the bronze serpent lifted on a pole somewhere in the camp was all that was needed.  But he’d have to get a little closer in order to see it.  And then people would know he was weak.  How ridiculous anyway, looking at a snake on a pole.  "Never mind, I’ll clean the wound and look after it myself."

Come ahead a few thousand years to Jesus' death on a cross, and his resurrection three days later.  Jesus says, “anyone who believes in me will not perish, but have everlasting life.” 


Believe what exactly?

We have to admit that we, like the Israelites in the desert, have been bitten by a serpent (Satan, through the fall), and the poison, called sin, is seeping through our body and is killing us, and we are going to die. 
 
With each heart beat we get closer to death, the eternal kind, separated forever from all that is good, and living eternally in and with all that is bad (take your absolute worst nightmare, multiply it by a million, and you might be close – close as in the sun to the moon). 
 
And there is not one thing we can do about it.  Yet, a simple glance toward the Son of Man lifted on a cross will keep us from dying.  Simple ascent to His words, “Believe in me and you will not die”. 
 
Yet looking, believing, means we need to get closer.  Getting closer means we need to leave something behind.  And people will see.  They will know now that I can’t really save myself, that I am really weak.   And we all know that is ridiculous.  Especially the part of the Son of God dying on a cross as a criminal to save me.  Seriously, if He was really God, couldn’t He come down from the cross?

That’s what the Pharisees said as they stood and watched Him breathe His last.

If He came down from the cross, he wouldn’t have been able to say, “It is finished.”

But He did say, “It is finished.”  And so it is finished.  Nothing to add.  Nothing to take away.  Complete.

He did say all you have to do is believe.

But it’s the faith in the looking that’s hard.  Because it means giving something up.  It means admitting to something utterly upside down, backward, against the grain.

And sadly, that is just plain ridiculous to most people.
 
And so they mock Him on national television.  And the audience applauds.
 
Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.

 
 

6 Comments:

At 5 March 2013 at 10:32 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow -- Good post, Stephanie!

- Laura L

 
At 6 March 2013 at 13:55 , Blogger Jerralea said...

Awesome post! This scripture came to mind while I was reading it: John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

You have to work at believing, and this is the work we are all called to do.

It's work because everything in our culture cries out, "do not believe ... it's ridiculous."

God bless, and keep up the good work!

 
At 7 March 2013 at 13:12 , Blogger Alecia Simersky said...

That makes me so sad, and angry, but because I know it's their sin and pride keeping them from being able to believe, I feel downright sorry for them. You did such a good job weaving this story together!

 
At 7 March 2013 at 23:59 , Blogger Emily Wierenga said...

this is prophecy friend. keep seeking the Lord. you are a blessing.

 
At 8 March 2013 at 09:50 , Blogger Jennifer @ JenniferDukesLee.com said...

This is such an informed, anointed word. Wow.

 
At 9 March 2013 at 11:11 , OpenID wynnegraceappears.com said...

You teach and present and offer up truth with such beautiful conviction. What a blessing you have wrapped in the telling. You have blessed a sister today.

 

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