Thursday, November 26, 2009

This week's lesson: Numbers 20-21

Strange but true: there was a time God saved His people with a metal snake.

You remember the story -- it's found in Numbers 21.
  • God's people are in the wilderness.
  • When they complain, God punishes them with poisonous snakes.
  • When they confess their sin, God tells Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole, so that anyone who is bitten may look at it and live.
As I said, it's an odd little story -- but it's no odder than some of the other ways that God has saved His people. No, God has used sermons and summer camps, tracts and TV preachers, evangelistic series and academy Bible classes . . . and sometimes, He even finds a way to use on-line commentaries about this week's Sabbath School lesson!

In short, God can make a blessing out of just about anything.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it will always stay a blessing.

Take that metal snake, for instance. In II Kings 18:1-4, we read that:
In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. . . . He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. [Emphasis supplied]
The very object that had once saved God's people, notice, now had to be destroyed because it had become an idol.

Likewise, just because something was a blessing in the past doesn't guarantee it is a blessing today. And just because God used something in the past doesn't mean we should be using it today. No, there comes a time when even the most powerful channels of God's grace must be set aside, lest they become a snare and a delusion.

When it comes to people, after all, we don't believe in "once saved, always saved."

That's true of everything else as well.

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