Apr 23, 2010, 11:22 AM
God never springs surprises on his people; he gives them ample time to change from their wicked ways. In Old Testament days, he sent prophets to warn them of the consequences of their bad behaviour; that is, before judgement. God wants his people to depart from sin and cling to what is good; what is pleasing to him. First, we must admit we have strayed from the right path to be sensitive to his appeals: “Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
God abhors sin, but loves the sinner. For this reason, he sent his dearly beloved Son to the cross to die, to pay for our past, present and future sins. The sin we inherited from Adam had to be done away with for good. Sin should not keep us bound as Children of God, born of the Spirit.
God is a just God. He will not punish us always for our sins but every act of disobedience has its penalty or consequences. We need only look back at the punishment meted to the Children of Israel for honouring idols and foreign gods. All of those who left Egypt – with the exception of Joshua and Caleb - did not enter the Promised Land. They died an untimely death and before tasting ‘the milk and honey’ that characterised the land.
Numerous times God would send a strong message through his prophets warning humankind of his wrath to come. This was the case during the time of Noah when God saw “…how great man’s wickedness had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:5) It grieved him to the extent that he vowed to “wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air…” (Genesis 6:7)
These are stern words from a loving but just God. That however seems to be the language that they would understand; “For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites, you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” (Exodus 33:5) Prior, he had said to Noah: “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth… I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it.” (Genesis 13)
Humankind has always tried God’s patience to this day. It was the same in the days of Abraham when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Even after God’s friend, Abraham, pleaded for mercy for its inmates, there were not as much as ten people who were righteous so God could stay his hand. “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me.” (Genesis 18:20-21) As very few righteous people were found there, the next morning Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed in smoke, ‘like smoke from a furnace.’ (Genesis 19:21)
We are living in an era of grace (unmerited favour) and God no longer sees us as the world sees us. He is looking at us through the eyes of his Son, Jesus Christ, and his finished work on the cross of Calvary. Grace should allow us to see things in their right perspective and so align our behaviour to God’s word. The Children of Israel grumbled against God saying; “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food.”(Numbers 21:5) For this reason God ‘sent venomous snakes among them’ and they died in thousands. Not until they repented of their sins and asked Moses to intercede on their behalf was there respite. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” (Numbers 21:8) Moses complied. Anyone who “was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.” (verse 9)
In the gospel of John chapter 3, verse 4 Jesus makes reference to this serpent in the desert. He said; “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.” On the Calvary mountaintop where Jesus died on a cross, his sacrificial act could be seen from afar by all who passed by. His crucifixion made manifest his power over death and sin because that was God’s solution to the sin problem. Today anyone who looks up to Jesus and puts his hope in him will be saved and will have eternal life.
All that God requires of us is to accept the finished work of Jesus on the cross when he declared: ‘it is finished.’ Indeed all is finished; there is nothing anyone else can do to save humanity. Jesus has done the Father’s will that we may have and enjoy everlasting life – the God kind of life.
In the desert, all (without exception) those whom the serpent had bitten when they looked to the bronze snake received not only healing but eternal life.
Our Lord Jesus offers eternal life free of charge. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it in full.” (John 10:10)
“Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37) Make Jesus your Lord and Saviour and gain a ticket to eternal life.