“Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”
Numbers 21:4-9 NKJV
Of salvation and the snare
There can be a tendency amongst the people of God to become so moved by what the Lord has done, that we begin to pay more attention to the vehicle of miracle and not the Miracle Maker. We look to the tool the Lord has used to bring salvation and miss Sovereign God behind it all. Sometimes this is in the form of the adoration of relics, or people, as if in that thing, or person, there is power.
In the modern day church, many seek signs and wonders, and raise up those who have been used by God, for a given moment, as if to place them on pedestals, elevated above the rest of us.
Reading through Numbers chapter twenty one, I saw how Israel in its ongoing rejection of the God who had delivered them, was once again delivered from destruction by the intercession of that same God. They had begun to grumble, to go astray, testing God.
Like a live vaccine, attacking a virus, the Lord instructed Moses to make a fiery serpent and place it on a pole, as the congregation was being taken out by swarms of fiery serpents. They looked up at the pole and lived.
That was a salvation for a given moment, provided by a sovereign God. The children of Israel became enamored more of the pole than their God, and later worshipped it instead of their Creator. Hezekiah eventually destroyed the pole, for it had become a snare for his people.
“He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan.”
II Kings 18:4 NKJV
Today, the Lord is working by the Holy Spirit, moving in the lives of followers of Jesus, who are faithful to go and tell of the Gospel, and give testimony of the Lord has done for them. Some are called to be teachers and pastors, who are filled by the Spirit and anointed for the work they are called to do.
For several years I had the opportunity to have breakfast with a pastor friend of my mine. In the pulpit he is an effective leader that the Lord has used to lead many to Jesus. During the years of Friday morning breakfasts, I came to know him as just another flawed human, saved from his sins and mostly obedient to the leading of the Lord.
It is easy to elevate those who are called and worship them. In reality, they are merely doing what God has empowered them to do. I was raised in a religious system that elevated pastors, placing them on pedestals. It wasn’t until my breakfast meetings that I developed a right understanding of what it means to be called.
We are in a time of celebrity preachers, who have set up worship of themselves, seeking to take the glory of God for personal wealth and power.
For those that follow them, they have become a snare, and few are really being saved in those churches. The Apostle Paul warned of the necessity to be on the alert for such who would draw others after themselves, as he addressed the Ephesian elders.
“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
Acts 20:29-31 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, be aware of those who have sought celebrity status in the churches, for their motivation is not of God. There is a tendency to equate large churches with godly leadership, but I have observed that the Lord has a multitude of great, Spirit filled pastors working diligently by the power of God in small churches all-around the world.
Often a big church is a sign that something unnatural is happening, not propelled by the Holy Spirit, as few people typically flock to churches where the word of God is rightly preached.
There is coming a day soon, when the Lord Himself will destroy the pastors who have set themselves up as idols, for they have used the gifts of the Spirit meant to save souls for their own gain.
In my humble role as intercessor, I too have had the temptation to allow myself to be placed on a pedestal, but I resist with fear and trembling. I know of my sinful past, I know how dependent I am on the Lord to get through each day. I bring nothing to the table, but a willing heart, urged on by the Holy Spirit.
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