Summary: Based on the story of God sending the snakes into the camp of the Israelites, whatever we cast our eyes upon is what we’ll see---and the answer we’ll get.
Where Are You Looking
* Tonight let’s be very simple and yet learn a needed truth about ourselves. I begin with this question; When it comes to everyday life, what kind of person are you? Are you a pessimist? (Always seeing the trouble, the difficulty, finding fault, etc) Or are you an optimist? (Always seeing the glass half full instead of half empty, finding the good, looking for the positive in every situation). There is an old adage which says, ‘You’ll find whatever you look for’. If you look for trouble, you’ll find trouble. If you look for fault, you’ll find it and a place to lay it (and normally it won’t be on you.) If the look for the positive, the good, the helpful, and the like, generally you will find it.
* Our eyes as well as the eyes of our souls are powerful resources which control, listen, OUR DESTINIES. A person can be characterized by how I look at things, by how I perceive them, because this controls how I respond to them. Never forget, becoming a Christian is the result of a decision to follow Christ which leads to a change in behavior. It affects all you do, all you say, how you respond, and thus, where you look.
* Tonight, let’s read a very familiar story found in Numbers 21. Turn there with me. One of the interesting things we continuously miss about this story is the frame of mind of Moses. In the previous chapter, we read that Moses’ sister (Miriam) and brother (Aaron) died. So that loss of companionship was probably lingering on his mind as we open the 21st chapter. Here Moses led the Children of Israel into war making the request to God for VICTORY. (There is a message for us to learn from Moses about praying for SUCCESS). After the successful battle, we pick up the story. Let’s read verses 4-9.
* The Children of Israel seems to have a Baptist way of looking at things. They always seem to begin their look for answers in all the wrong places as well as having unrealistic expectations. God has just given them a victory over a powerful enemy and yet, they are impatient because of the journey. Think about this; they are on a journey of their own making, they have refused to cross over Jordan, accept the heritage God had promised, and take the land that is divinely their own. Now they complain.
* God had in mine their journey to take 3 weeks and they chose 40 years, funerals, and wandering. Now, they are impatient with the journey. Without apology I will submit this; when we choose to be disobedient to God’s calling and go our own way, the journey gets frustrating, testing, and trying. You know what follows true frustration? Loose Lips. The Children of Israel began to run their mouth and criticize God and God’s leader, Moses. Although they had taken the vote and made the decision to disobey God and spend a little more time in the wilderness, the blame game was afoot. They didn’t like what God was providing and, by the way, why did we ever leave Egypt?
* It is a serious thing to disobey God, but then to criticize God and His chosen leader will always bring judgment of some kind. Now, we can ride the horse of criticizing God’s leader, but I’ll let you make the application because I think God will show you the seriousness of this action. God says, “Touch not my anointed.” (I Chronicles 16, Psalms 105).
* Back to the Israelites; God had enough and sent His judgment on His people. He sent snakes. Not a green snake, but vipers equipped with fangs and venom. Now their trouble has been intensified and they needed some relief. But where did they look to find relief? Where do you look? I see 3 different places;
1) THE PROBLEM – With snakes crawling all over the ground, it takes no imagination to know that the first place these complaining people looked was at the snakes themselves. Think about it, where would you have looked? Were I to tell you that we have an infestation of snakes in this building, most if not all, would keep your eye on the floor looking for those slippery little creatures. Our focus would be any place where a snake might crawl. Yet, this story illustrates that when you focus on your problems, or give them center place in your life, they will take control over you.
* One thing we better never miss about this story is this: GOD SENT THE SNAKES!!
* He didn’t suggest to them to come, He didn’t let Satan do His dirty work; He didn’t simply remove His power and allow them to God. He SENT the snakes. And He sent them to teach a lesson to His Children. Just as surely as you send a message to your young children, so does God.