Links to all Articles & Photos:
Tired of God?
Thomas R. Fletcher
Ever get tired of God? Oh, I know, I won’t admit it either. But do you ever get tired of the demands your faith makes upon your life? Ever long for those wild and free days of youth? Let’s review. Those "wild, free" days were not free at all. Satan is lying to you. They were days of bondage marked by enslavement to sin. Satan used the evil desires of the sinner as a bullring to control, to lead him/her about as he pleased. Have we forgotten the bondage? Are we like the children of Israel in Numbers 21?
"But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food! (Numbers 21:4b-5 NIV). All Israel could remember was the tasty days of fine cuisine. Memories of hard labor had quickly faded. All that remained were memories of the good old days in Egypt. The days weren’t good. They were slaves! Satan does wonders in presenting selective memories–to create longings that if followed, will take one far from the Lord. Israel was actually longing for the days of slavery! How could days of slavery have been "good?" We commit the same error when we forget what God has done in setting us free from the bondage of sin. Longing for the days of sin is the first step downward–giving in to old desires. Groaning, grumbling, backbiting and faultfinding are marks of those who’ve grown tired of God and long for days of sin.
Israel was tired of God’s provision. It wasn’t what they desired. "Manna again?!?" They remembered the flavor-rich leeks of Egypt. Longing for the material, they neglected the spiritual. Focusing on their desires, they remembered the fine cuisine, but memories of hard labor were blunted. Their desires overrode reason. They neglected their great deliverance wrought by the Lord in bringing them out of Egypt. In their twisted reasoning they were deprived, because their material desires were not immediately met. They neglected the fact that with the provisions in Egypt came fierce slavery.
In complaining about what they didn’t have, they neglected what they did have: the ongoing care and provision of the Lord. So the Lord lowered His hedge of protection, and the venomous serpents came to call. "Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died" (Numbers 21:6). Apparently these venomous snakes had been there all along, but God’s hedge of protection had kept them at bay. The complaints of the people caused God to lower His hedge of protection so they could have a taste of life without Him. God’s protection had kept the snakes at bay. Now they would suffer the fate of losing that protection. They took God’s provision and protection for granted. They didn’t realize the many ways God’s grace was sheltering and protecting them. Instead of seeing the blessing they had, they focused on the material things they didn’t have. Complaining, backbiting, and faultfinding eat at the fabric of faith. Complaining is to dwell on the natural without considering the supernatural. Focused on the natural, the people spurned God’s provision.
The snakes soon had the people ready to repent. "The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us’" (Numbers 21:7). Israel called on the Lord in her distress, like so many of us. Too often we don’t call on God in the smooth times, in fact, at times we may feel He gets in the way. He does get in the way. He gets in the way of our selfish, self-centered, self-destructive ways. He calls us to a higher standard.
God used this incident of rebellion and chastisement of His people to provide a type, to point to the future reality of Christ being lifted up on the cross to pay the penalty of 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’" (Numbers 21:8). Healing from the poisonous bites required faith. Those who were healed acted in faith by looking up to the bronze snake high upon the pole. Only those who acted in faith were healed. So we, too, must exercise faith. We must look to the cross of Christ or there is no healing for our sin-sick condition. All of humanity is infected with the disease of sin, and the only cure is to look to the cross of Christ in faith–knowing He paid a penalty for our sin, that we could never pay on our own.
Going through life, we become burdened with the trials we face. In carrying our burdens, we lose sight of the many ways God loves and cares for us. We focus on the trials. We see what we don’t have, instead of praising God for what we do have. Our focus is on our trials. Faith starts to fail and sin enters in. Only as we get our focus on the cross do we find the healing we desperately need. Maybe you’ve been listening to the rabble, the mixed-multitude, perhaps you’ve let their negativity affect your faith. It’s time to get our focus where it belongs: the cross of Christ.