I Cherish the time I devote to studying the Bible, particularly the Old Testament.
Why? Because it is the foundation from which our boundaries were established. The lessons learned from this time, and application in our current lives yield blessings beyond measure.
Here’s just one example:
In Numbers 21:6, there was a plague of snakes that had come upon the Israelites on their journey to the promised land. This plague was placed on them because of their sin. What sin you may ask? They disobeyed God.
Here they were, the recipients of numerous blessings;
rescued from their enemies by the parting of the waters so that could escape on dry land,
they were led by a cloud during the day, and a pillar of fire by night.
They received manna for sustenance every single day,
and given one day to rest (wouldn’t it be nice to have one of those days now?!),
and they were on their way to a place where they would no longer have to worry about being subjected to slavery as they and their ancestors had been subjected to for the past 400 years, just to name a few.
By all counts, they had much to be thankful for;
they were free, no longer in bondage,
their bills were paid,
they had food on the table and didn’t have to worry where their next meal was coming from.
Bottom line, they had a bad attitude and lacked gratitude.
They kept their minds on where they came from and where they were. This limiting thought process prevented them from focusing on where they were going. So they complained and succumbed to sinning against God, thereby angering God to the point where He sent serpents to bite and kill them.
Now, being the exemplary leader that he was, Moses went to God on their behalf. There were so many people dying that Moses went to God to inquire as to how to handle the snakes. God instructed Moses to construct a bronze image of a snake and mount it on a pole.
Whenever a man was bitten by a snake, he was to gaze at the bronze image UNTIL he was saved. This did not imply that once he glanced at the image, his life would be spared and that he did not have to look again.
It implied that he was to gaze, look intently, focus on the image, with a steady and absorbing gaze UNTIL he was saved.
It’s not until we look at God intently, uninterrupted and focused that we place ourselves in a position to receive his blessings. We have to go after Him, look to Him, gaze upon Him in order to be rescued from the snare or the enemy.
What’s interesting to me is that when Moses took their request to God, God didn’t stop the snakes from biting. He merely gave them a way out and that way out was a choice. They could succumb to the bite and die OR they could look to God in the midst of the attack; stay focused on Him, based on His instruction, and they would be saved. God could have easily stopped the snakes from biting, but what lesson would have been learned?
Fast forward to the New Testament to see how this all ties together. Jesus said that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him (that cleaves to, trusts in and relies on Him) may not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:14, 15)
Taking a current day perspective, what would you consider a fleeting glance? Here are just a few that come to mind for me. (I refer to these as “checking the block”):
- Saying grace
- Saying your prayers at night
- Going to church on Sunday and not reading and following up on His Word after church. (Isn’t that why we take notes, or is it just to stay awake or make others believe we are paying attention?)
- Calling on God when you are in trouble as if He were your bail bondsman.
Just like the Israelites and their plight in the wilderness, we have a tendency to complain about where we are, what we don’t have and how things might be different had we stayed where we were. This self-defeating attitude keeps us from gazing on the promise of what God has for us, and opens us up to the enemy’s attempts to derail us from our appointed journey.
We may think that we are protecting ourselves from the enemy’s attacks by “checking the block” and then blame it on God when we don’t get what we want or what we feel we deserve.
Intently gazing on God and committing time to getting to know Him places us in a position of protection and assures us that we are well on our way to our promised land. That place where God abides in us and honors us with His grace and mercies.
I encourage you to identify where you are with your attitude of gratitude. Are you dedicating time to gaze intently at God? Are you acknowledging all that He is doing for you? Or are you merely “checking the block”?
Your willingness to give God more than a fleeting glance, just might make the difference between just getting by and receiving unprecedented abundance in your life.