We’ve all been through some rough days over the past few weeks. But even as we come into Easter with the uncertainty of life in general, we have great hope. Let’s be certain, this is a time in which the Enemy rages and tries to disrupt and distract. Many years, I personally have experienced more spiritual oppression and attacks in the days and weeks leading up to Easter. I believe we do well to take opportunities to withdraw, refocus, and recharge in this time…especially in the light of all this nation and world have gone through.
I’m impressed to present a blog during this Easter season that encourages us to look upward once again. When we are lost in the cares of this life, looking within and without, the nature of our souls is to get caught up in all the madness. If we stay that way for too long, we start to look for answers in places we were never supposed to find them. Addiction, depression, hopelessness…it all weighs on us as we realize the thing we are trying to find hope in actually offers us nothing of the kind.
In the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament, Moses leads the people in the wilderness. The Israelites are tired and hungry and start to lash out. Their complaints are directed towards Moses and God and in the midst of their grumbling, God sends venomous snakes among them. The people are bit and some of them die. Others get very sick. But even in the sickness, God gives a means for the people to be healed which comes after they repent for their sin:
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. Numbers 21:8,9
The idea that a cursed item (a snake) is raised on a pole is an interesting foreshadow to what Christ would bring several thousand years later. In fact, Jesus references this event as he speaks with Nicodemus (a Pharisee) in John 3. Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night in secret: out of the public eye because he has questions. He wants to know more about who Jesus is and is taken aback when he is told he “must be born again” in order to enter the Kingdom (vs. 3). It is in the exchange leading up to the famous John 3:16 verse in which Jesus ties the story back in Numbers to what He was eventually going to do for mankind:
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” John 3:14
My thoughts today as a blog post are more bullet points and quick take aways as we think about this story — both the Israelites in Numbers and Jesus’ crucifixion. Here are some things to consider:
1. Jesus took on the curse for us — just like the snake on the pole, on the cross, Jesus became a sacrifice and vessel through which God imparted grace.
2. In order to be saved, we must look up. The Israelites if bitten, could look up at the snake and be healed. We all are infected by the results of the Fall. We are sinful and in order to have our sin blot removed, we must look up at Christ.
3. Life comes to those who look up — the Israelites had their lives restored, physically speaking. Our spiritual lives are redeemed the moment we trust Jesus and accept His sacrifice as the punishment for our sins.
4. Jesus was innocent. Without Him, we deserve death. Ultimately, Jesus stands in the way between us and eternal separation from God.
5. Choosing to look up and choosing to believe is optional. Some will refuse. We look up and point to Him anyway.
From all of this, I’m hoping that we consider the cross once again as the instrument God used to deal with His wrath and punishment. Sin will not go unpunished. Certainly God took Jesus and allowed Him to carry the weight of our sin. That is the Good News. But from there, we have to accept it and allow our hearts to surrender to Him fully. Sin still carries ripple effects. We can choose to follow Jesus but there are repercussions for our actions. And sin not surrendered at the cross will one day be dealt with an eternal punishment: Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:18
This is a shorter but nevertheless, heavy word for this week. I encourage you to spend some time reflecting again on the cross and what it means for you today. Personally, I believe it is helpful to look at the cross and Jesus’ work not just for humanity in general, but to realize it was my sin and it was my shame that put Him there. Often that connection to me is what helps bring this all home once again. I can be several years removed from the time I accepted Christ. And my memory is short. I need His forgiveness, His love, and His mercy everyday. I need to be reminded why I need it as well.
As you go about this week, continue looking up! When others are lost in the mire of what they see, be a light that shows them a better way. Let’s be people who continue to raise the cross of Jesus and compel others to gaze upon His sacrifice. And as we celebrate this Sunday, we remember sin could not hold Him: He is risen. He is risen indeed!
I love you guys! Let me know how I can be praying for you today!
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17