Saturday, August 26, 2017


From Isaiah 30, CEB

Though the Lord gives you the bread of distress and the water of oppression, your teacher will no longer hide, but you will see your teacher. If you stray to the right or the left, you will hear a word that comes from behind you: “This is the way; walk in it.”

Fear is a terrible thing! It is especially fearful to be new at school as a child, and then have no parent to comfort. In war torn countries, sometimes children are given a crust of bread to hold for the night, so they would know there would be something to eat in the morning.

Imagine the experiences of the Israelites over the years when they were headed for the Promised Land. They often felt they had been abandoned. If this was true about the entire nation of several hundred thousand, how about the family, or individual?

What beautiful words to such a person or group, ". . . your teacher will no longer hide, but you will see your teacher." Jesus encounters the same when he tells the disciples, "It is I, be not afraid!"

I remember being left alone to care for my younger brother in Brakpan, Gauteng, South Africa, with a kerosene stove for warmth. My parents were working on official records of district churches. (We had no central heat.)

During the night, the wick began to smoke, and my baby brother's cough awakened me. I scrambled for light, and found the room and adjacent rooms filled with smoke. I was frightened. Thank God, by that time we had a reasonable telephone service, since we were near Johannesburg, and I was able to get in touch with my parents, who came immediately to help. "Your teacher will no longer hide, but you will see your teacher."

This is an amazing promise that came many years after the wandering of Israel in the desert. Things were beginning to make better sense to those who prophesied, as well as to those to whom they prophesied. But as is often the case - the darkest hour is just before the dawn.

This is a promise for every Christian that can be seen many places in scripture, especially the Psalms.

In distress - you will see your teacher! What a deal! What a promise!

Many that read this will recall seeing the emblem of a "serpent on a pole" on medical facilities, perhaps even their own doctor's office. That ancient emblem comes from the experience of ancient Israelites in the desert on their way to Canaan, when, after a victory in Hormah, (Numbers 21:6), they grumbled against God about the food they were eating. Grumbling like this was a constant problem with the Israelites. Finally God felt it was time for them to be taught in a way they could "see".

Repeatedly, Moses had complained about this grumbling, so God sent "fiery serpents" in discipline. Many died as a result. It did not take long for the Israelites to malign the character of God, as well as Moses, due to the discipline of snakes.

God's remedy was for Moses to make a pole, cast a bronze serpent for it, so that the Israelites could look at it.

When they started to do this, they were not only healed of snake bite, but it was no longer a problem to them . . . except when they began to worship this bronze serpent as an idol in Hezekiah's time.

Why is this significant? Throughout scripture God was training people for the time that Jesus Christ, God's Son would be sent for the sin and sin of the human race.

Once He came, all of the training "props" were taken away, and the principles began to shine through.

The idea that needed to be taught and re-taught was simply that the key to any discipline of the Lord, is to understand why He sent it, and then fix one's eyes on Him, and the things He tells us to keep our eyes upon. As Israel they looked at the bronze serpent on the pole, they would no longer fear the bite of the snakes.

Perhaps there is a parent reading this who told a child, "If you don't quit crying, I'll give you something to cry about!"

What about these emblems in the medical profession? Why are they placed in prominent places? As God taught Israel, very often diseases come because we look everywhere but to God for basic provision. When we look at the serpent on the pole - the serpent is dead, and made of brass. If God is the Provider, and discipline comes - there must be an offense. Looking at the pole reminds us of who Jesus Christ is, and what He came to do.

Looking at Christ, studying Him, studying His life, getting to know Him better, getting to know God his Father better, helps us to realize how much bigger He is than simply saying "yes" to a few questions, and going to church. Why? We are a dying human race, but this is our opportunity to see our lives as "seeds", to plant in fertile soil for time and eternity. (Matthew 13:37-38)

Is this fertile soil the brokenness that Christ was hinting about in Matthew 9:12-13?

Thus, it is the "reverse" of grumbling that must be practiced. We are sheep. We are broken as well as lost, due to sin. The basic design of a sheep is much like a cow - a ruminant animal. A pig doesn't do that. Farmers know this principle very well - especially those who have sheep.

As far as attending church doesn't "fix" a person any more than a hospital, clinic, or local doctor's office does. It is understanding another's definition of what could be wrong, and seeing that doctor or medical practitioner's perspective. It is then an agreed-upon remedy is brought alongside to facilitate healing. This also is the true function of the church. An old friend of mine once said, "Churches aren't for people that are healthy, they are hospitals for sick folk." Psalm 141:5. Hebrews 10:24.

Snakes are generally not aggressive, unless cornered. Thus, looking to Christ is the answer! It solves the problem.

This now becomes the basis of Christian meditation. In your private time with the Lord in prayer and faithful study of the Word, you see a verse or two that hit sore areas of your life. You look intensely for Christ in that passage, and in others like it that you can read, study, memorize, and study. Perhaps the problem has become more than you can bear. Search His Word prayerfully, looking for scriptures that draw you in, and attract you. Treat them like Moses' burning bush in the desert. (Exodus 3:5)

Write down these thoughts, "look at them often"! Look at them and "chew on them". Meditate on them. Study word meanings. Apply the truths directly, and write out insights. Speak about them among those you trust.

It is Christ who keeps His people from snake-bite! Now you can truly "see" your teacher, as illustrated above.

An old song says, "I've a message from the Lord, Hallelujah, it is only that you Look and Live!" The song was based on Christ's explanation of this story. John 3:14-16.