Summary: When at first we hear "repent or perish", it seems harsh. But as we turn, we see that it is an incredible gift to have something to turn to.
Turn and Live
Text: Numbers 21:4 - 9
Let’s imagine ourselves in this situation, put ourselves in the sandals of the Israelites. Fiery serpents are slithering throughout our camp. Snakes are biting people all over the place and everyone bitten dies. We have managed to avoid the snakes and while we are not bitten yet, our chances do not look good. Imagine the thoughts we are having and actions everyone around us is taking to deal with the threat. "We must do something. We must save ourselves!", but how? Various ideas surface such as: "If you run around in frantic activity it will work out the poison!" A few people try this, and die trying. Others, once bitten, go totally berserk in a frenzy of panic. There are those who try to convince themselves that they are not bitten, or that the snakes were not poisonous, and form little groups to delude each other while dying. And here’s a person selling a snake-bite remedy with claims that it is a cure to the poison of the serpents but doesn’t really help at all, not that the customers will come back with complaints once they have been bitten.
Enter Moses who says, "If you look at the bronze snake that has been lifted up on this pole, you will live. If you do not, no matter what else you do, you will die." Now let’s really picture how we might react, having been given this revelation. "You must be joking!" we might say. "Do nothing? Just look? How insulting a solution! What part do we play in it?" Moses responds, "Cease your activities. Just look, and live!" Really now, if you had been there, would you have believed it? Do you believe God’s solution today?
A.John 3:14 (NASB) “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
1.We all have been bitten, and the poison of sin is coursing through our veins. It will most certainly lead to death. There is only one solution, but it is an offense to our belief in our own abilities.
1 Corinthians 1:23 (NASB) 23but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
2.John 6:40 (NKJV) 40And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life;”
B.Turn Or Perish
1.When Jesus sent out the twelve:
Mark 6:12 (NASB) 12They went out and preached that men should repent.
2.When Peter first preached on the day of Pentecost:
Acts 2:38 (NIV) Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
3.Luke 13:3b (NIV) "But unless you repent, you too will all perish." [This is often termed the "Turn or Burn" passage.]
C.Religion vs. Repentance
1.Many think the word repent means "to get your act together" or to "get religion" or "Straighten up and fly right"; as if we could.
2.Repentance requires taking in a whole new point of view; looking at it God’s way. God simply asks us to turn. This is the way we accept His gift. When we do, certain outcomes are promised. If we don’t alternate outcomes are promised.
II.The Two Ways
A.The "way" we are looking:
1) Will make sense if we look long enough; 2) will create desire to move in that direction; and 3) will lead to something.
Proverbs 14:12 (NASB) 12There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
1.If our line of sight is along our own way, or the way of the world, then this will begin to make sense to us as we continue to meditate on it, even if the way we are looking is really stupid. With this mind set, desire will spring up, which is the fuel that will lead us to destruction.
2.Any sin would do as an example, but let’s take revenge. If someone has done evil to us, the more we think about it, the more it will make sense to hate them, to nurse the hurt, to burn with anger. As we focus on the way of revenge, desire takes root and where does this all lead?
James 1:14 - 15 (NASB) 14But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
3.So how can we break out of the death-spiral of the way of sin seeming right, creating desire, and leading to destruction?
a.Read Ezekiel 18:21-32
b.We must repent; we must turn or perish. But to what? If we turn to just another of "man’s ways" we have just set our sights down another road to death.