Monday, July 03, 2006

Live and Learn?

…Moses made a bronze snake… He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made…
(Numbers 21:9 / 2 Kings 18:4 – NIV)

Hezekiah destroyed the brass serpent that Moses had made to save the people from dying. The Israelites had kept it for around 800 years, and were worshipping it as an idol. The people were burning incense to it, but Hezekiah called it a brass thing, and ground it to powder. Remembering God’s faithfulness is wonderful and powerful, but we cannot create idols and expect them to deliver us. Sometimes the very thing that was good for us becomes a snare to us, and we must be on guard against this.

Why don’t we have original copies of the Bible, and why is it important to not place too much stock in the ancient relics such as the shroud of Turin, the Ark of the Covenant, the burial box of James, or the recent discovery of what may be Noah’s Ark, etc.? While they might be interesting, the proof you need is the Holy Spirit making Jesus alive to your heart, and in your life (1 John 4:13). We worship whom the Bible is about, not the Bible itself (John 5:39). It wouldn’t give us any power to have these items today; it is God who is the power! Knowing God’s power and His attributes is great, but we cannot worship His attributes, that is what the Hindus do, they make a God for every emotion, but God is bigger than peace, or even love. Remember that!

You may think that you don’t have any idols. Oh, no? This story of the brass serpent relates because the problem for most people is that they live in the past, or look only at the present, and have to learn in the future. What we should do is learn from the past, live in the present, and look to the future. We can’t live in the past, the serpent represented past glory, and some people live on the fumes of a faded fire. Many long for the good old days, but we know that this is wrong (Ecclesiastes 7:10). The promises of God are stale words for some, promises that aren’t for them. The Bible does not speak life and liberty anymore.

Another terrible manifestation of this is when people hold themselves captive by their own guilt. Be saved and set free (Galatians 5:1 – NASB)! Friends, Jesus saves sinners from their sin, but we must know the truth intimately (2 Peter 1:8-12) to be set free in this life (John 8:31-32). Jesus took captivity captive (Ephesians 4:8), so start living like it! Whatever happened in the past thirty years ago, twenty years ago, or even last week, isn’t enough to drain the reserves from the Heavenly bank of grace! Hebrews 7:25 states that Jesus is able to save us to the uttermost, that He ever lives to make intercession for us. You don’t live in the past; proclaim your planting of the Lord as a tree of righteousness to His glory (Isaiah 61:3)! Your relationship isn’t about your past; it is about His past!

Why was the census David took wrong? Because he was looking to the present, at the great army he had amassed, and “counting” on it, instead of looking to God. He was being confident in what God gave him, not in God himself. It is like how we love the feeling when the Holy Ghost “shows up”, when we feel His immediate presence. The feeling is good, but we must look for God, not the feeling, the feeling is the reaction to the Spirit, not the Spirit Himself. It is all about the Giver, not the Gift.

This can be such a subtle problem; consider the Publican (Luke 18:11), who was grateful to God for his righteousness, but thought that this was his relationship, instead of continuing dependence. But doing righteous things is only our duty (Luke 17:10); it doesn’t constitute our relationship. Even though God imparts a measure of righteousness to us, and we will continue to grow in that grace, it is still on the basis of Jesus, and the imputed righteousness of God’s Son that we can come boldly before the throne.

Many look to the present, and live “under the circumstances.” They never grow up and realize that they can do all things through Christ, which strengthens them (Philippians 4:13). They deny the power of God that can come through suffering and depending on Him. You don’t have to be under your circumstances. Jesus is bigger than your circumstance!

We must learn from the past (Romans 15:4), not wait until we have to learn from the future, like the Israelites did against the Philistines. We cannot expect the Lord to bring us victory without having a present tense, dynamic relationship with Him. 1 Samuel 4:1-11 tells of how the Ark of the Covenant was lost and Shiloh rejected by God for Jerusalem, as Asaph also tells us in Psalm 78, we cannot rely on formulas to give us the victory.

When we are stuck living in the past, we have to suffer defeat in the present, and only then learn of our victory in the future. Satan dogs us with thoughts like “sure your sins are forgiven, but you still have to suffer the consequences in this life.” But Paul says to forget the past, and press on towards the mark (Philippians 3:13-14), he tells us by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are a new creation, behold, all things are new, we must begin to recognize who we are in Christ! (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) Many never heed the voice of the Lord, and are enrolled in the wrong school, the school of hard knocks. They have to “live and learn”, they are like children, and they must touch the hot stove for themselves before they learn to avoid it. You don’t have to wait till tomorrow to enjoy the blessings of God. Your future glory with Jesus begins right now (John 17:3 / Ephesians 1:3 / Colossians 1:27)!


Even So... said...

I'm learning to live with no comments if I post every day.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to try again....this will be my 4th attempt!

The current commentary is way over my head...I'm sure that my comments would be of little value. I will say that I've enjoyed reading the dialogue and am trying to understand/process/digest it the best I can. I've always found it helpful to know a person's point of reference/motivation when trying to understand what they're saying. So I must confess, Even So, that I was comforted a bit to know that you're known as a "radically conservative radical fundamentalist". :) I hope that doesn't offend you Exist....