A Wisdom Retreat - May 27

Just Look Up!

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

There is a story in the Old Testament of a time when God judged Israel in a severe manner by sending poisonous snakes into their camp. The Bible called these snakes "fiery serpents," because their venom would cause a hot fever in the bodies of its victims, ultimately killing those who were bitten.

The Israelites cried out for mercy, and God responded with His grace and mercy toward them. He gave Moses instructions to make a brass serpent, hang it from the top of a long wooden pole, and hold it up in the midst of the camp. Then he was to tell the people of Israel that anyone who simply looked up at the brass serpent would be healed and recover from their snakebite. As easy as that!

All the Israelites had to do was look up and they would be saved. They were not required to develop medicine for the infection; they were not asked to work for their cure; they were not commanded to kill all the serpents in order to be healed. If you can imagine it, many still refused to look at the brazen serpent lifted up in the midst of the camp. Why? Because the natural instinct of the human heart is to do things its own way—to find its own remedy for sin. But there is only one remedy for sin and death, and God is the One who provided it.

Donald Grey Barnhouse, the late well-known pastor and radio preacher, illustrated how the human heart responds to "fiery serpents":

In the religious fashion of our day, there would have been a rush to incorporate the "Society for the Extermination of the Fiery Serpents." There would have been badges for coat lapels, cards for district workers, secretaries for organization branches, pledge cards, and mass rallies. There would have been a publication office and a weekly journal to tell of the progress of the work. There would have been photographs of heaps of serpents that had been killed by the faithful workers, all of them feverishly trying, by human effort, to overcome the serpent's bite of sin!

This Old Testament event, found in Numbers 21, is really a wonderful picture of what Christ would do thousands of years later on the cross. He would hang in our place as a sinner so that all who looked upon Him might be saved.

In John 14:6, Christ says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." There is no other way to God but to look upon the crucified Savior and believe.

People today are surrounded with all the trappings of religion: they join churches, sign pledge cards, go through Bible lessons and catechisms, give money, get baptized, and in the end, still die without the cure for sin. The truth is, we all have been bitten by sin and its poison is steadily and continually rushing through our veins—we are terminally infected with the venom of sin's curse.

Our only hope is to look to that wooden cross upon which the Lamb of God was held up for all to see. Look there! . . . God has provided your cure.

Prayer Point: Though you already may have accepted Christ's gift of salvation, it is very easy to take your eyes off Him. As Paul said, we must "fix our eyes on Jesus," and that should be your prayer today. Don't let yourself forget the awesome work Christ did for you at the cross; practice thanking Him for it . . . start today!

Extra Refreshment: Read Numbers 21—the story of God's deliverance of the Israelites from the fiery serpents.

Wisdom for the Heart online

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