Have you ever caught yourself day dreaming and looking aimlessly into the distance? If so, you know how startling it can be when someone unexpectedly approaches you and says, “What are you looking at?” In an instance, you are shaken from your prior thoughts and brought into a different realm.
As a Christian, the same question, “What are you looking at?” can be equally startling. The question is startling because our gaze is so frequently distracted. It seems no matter how many people get saved, how personally Christ speaks to us, or how powerfully we see God’s hand, we still focus our gaze elsewhere. Of course, we agree that the blood of Jesus saves us, but aren’t we called to move on do bigger and better things for God? When we’re asked what we are looking at, the answer may be ourselves, our family, our goals, or our jobs, but it is frequently NOT the cross of Jesus.
This problem plagued the Israelites for centuries. In Numbers 20, we find the Israelites complaining about their freedom from slavery because they don’t like the diet God had provided for them. God’s gracious response is to provide water from a rock, in spite of Moses’ disobedience. In chapter 21, we read that God delivered foreign armies into the hands of the Israelites. Clearly God was at work in their midst and the Israelites recognized it. Moses’ words in 20:16 show the Israelites were well aware of God’s action on their behalf throughout history as well, “And when we cried to the Lord, he heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt.”
Despite the current and historic work of God on their behalf, the Israelites became impatient with God and complained that he had not provided enough for them. They knew the truth of God’s provision, but they had focused their eyes on their current circumstances. It is against this backdrop that God sent deadly vipers to judge the people for focusing their gaze on the wrong object. When bitten by these snakes, the people immediately came to their senses; they confessed their sin and need of God’s salvation. In response, God called Moses to make a snake and place it on a pole. If anyone was bitten, the only way to be saved from death was to look at the snake on the pole. Those who tried to find salvation apart from the snake on the pole would fail. Looking at the pole didn’t keep anyone from being bitten, but it did take a fatal bite and eliminate its deadliness.
Much like the Israelites, we all are under the fatal bite of sin. As people living after Jesus, we no longer look to a snake on a pole but to Jesus, the ultimate snake-killer, on the Cross. We look at the Cross and realize that our death died at His death. We are daily faced with the choice of looking at our current circumstances and being overwhelmed or looking to Jesus for salvation. We can work to heal ourselves from our deadly bite or we can trust the work of Jesus to heal us of our deadly bite. If we work for our healing we will die, but if we look to Christ’s work for our healing, we will live!
More often than not, I feel like the Israelites. I feel like Robert Robinson who wrote “Come Thou Fount”, with its famous line, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” The question I must daily ask myself is the same question you must daily ask yourself: What are you looking at?
What has helped you look at the Cross instead of your circumstances? Leave a comment!