Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Editor’s Note:  This is the first part of a two-part series on becoming dissatisfied with the blessings of God.  Part two is entitled, “God Did That?  I forgot,” which will be presented next week.

The iPhone5 has been released.  Apple announced it on September 21st in the United States.  The phone retails at US $895.00.  There are a few subtle differences when compared to iPhone4S.  It’s a bit longer and thinner, has a new charging cord, and perhaps a different battery system.  But essentially it’s the same phone.  What is interesting to me is that people who bought the iPhone4S are getting rid of that phone to get the new iPhone5.  It’s basically the same phone at twice the cost.  They can’t be satisfied with what they have.  They have to have the newest and the latest, even though the technology isn't all that different.

This is a part of human nature, I think.  We are so easily dissatisfied.  We easily become tired of things that we, at one time, thought of as a blessing. Today I want to post on dissatisfaction from this section of scripture:

Numbers 21:4-9 (NKJV)
21:4 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. 5 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." 6 So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. 7 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. 8 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." 9 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.

We Are Never Satisfied

Why is it that we are never satisfied?  It seems like we always want what we don’t have.  We’re always looking for the newest and coolest thing, in fact, high tech and computer companies count on that.  That’s why they upgrade operating systems or release new hardware every eighteen months.  They know that people will always want the newest, supposedly best technology available.  Then to top it off, they make the new operating system unable to support the older software requiring that you go out and buy the software again. 

The problem is that newest isn't always the best.  There are more glitches, often you lose some functionality and it makes things more difficult.  But most people want to have the newest and the “best”.  The Israelites in our text are the same way.  They didn't want what they already had; they wanted something new and different. 

Here’s Israel, they’re in the desert.  God has done some of the most powerful miracles since creation to free them from the bondage of Egypt. He’s provided for their needs;  Their clothing didn't wear out, He fed them in the wilderness with Manna.  The Manna was delicious and nutritious.

Exodus 16:31 (NKJV)
16:31 And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

They became dissatisfied they wanted something new.  That’s the way we are all, isn't it?  God’s providing for us, He’s blessing us; but we’re looking for something else from God.  We want something new.  People always want something new from God, don’t they?  God gives us a job or something and we talk about it, “Oh what a great blessing this is.”  “Oh God just blessed me big time.”  But a few years later we’re praying to God for a new job.  “God I hate this job, please give me another job!”  Think about all the times you were excited that God had moved on your behalf, but then a few months, or a few years later you’re dissatisfied.  That’s what we’re seeing in Israel in our text. 

God had moved powerfully for them.  They were groaning under the oppression of Egypt and crying out to God. God moved powerfully to deliver them.

Exodus 3:7-8 (NKJV)
3:7 And the Lord said: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.

So God moves on their behalf.  He brings the plagues that cause Pharaoh to let His people go.  Then Pharaoh pursues them across the desert and God opens up the Red Sea for them and then slams it shut on the Pharaoh’s soldiers.

Exodus 15:1 (NKJV)
15:1 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying: "I will sing to the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!

You can read the rest for yourself.  It’s all of chapter fifteen it’s a song about this great delivery of God about all that God is in the process of doing for them:  Less than six weeks later they’re complaining.  It took less than six weeks for them to become dissatisfied. 

Exodus 16:2-3 (NKJV)
16:2 Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 And the children of Israel said to them, "Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."

Four hundred years of bondage and after less than six weeks of freedom they’re ready to go back.  So after they’re complaining God gives them Manna.  God feeds them in the wilderness.  How gracious is God?  He continues to provide for their needs even in the midst of all their complaining.  So once again He shows His care and concern for Israel.  He delivers them; He works miracles for them; He delivers them from the bitter water at Marah; He feeds them in the wilderness, all of these things are powerful measures of God’s provision, but in our text we come across them in the desert and they’re complaining.  They're calling the miraculous provision of God, “This worthless bread.”

The sad thing is that we want to mock them for that, but the real truth of the matter is that we are EXACTLY the same way. “God we need your blessing!”  “God we need deliverance!”  and a few months later we’re looking for a reason to miss out on worshiping Him, because we've become dissatisfied.

What Happens When We Become Dissatisfied?

You can see the beginning of what happens when we become dissatisfied in our text. 

Numbers 21:5 (NKJV)
21:5 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."

We begin to speak out against God, and the leader God has appointed.  This often takes the form of Gossip.  We complain about the teachings.  We complain that we’re held to standards of behavior and attendance.  We start looking to fire up others so they’ll see it our way, then we come out and complain that God isn't doing enough for us.  Eventually, we just walk away from the church:  “I just wasn't getting fed there.”  “All they want is your money.”  “There’s no love at that church.”  “They’re a cult.”  That’s what people say, but usually the reason you’re not getting fed is because you don’t eat.  People complain about not receiving enough from God but they’re not showing up at church.  Well, that’s where God is.  Where do you Him to meet you… at the golf course?”

I've talked to men who have gone through “mid-life crises,” that’s when some men become dissatisfied.  One friend, in particular, complained that his wife wasn't beautiful anymore.  He complained that he didn't have a good retirement plan set up; that he wasn't making enough money.  So, his plan was that he’d quit and shut down his church.  He’s backing off, he’s dissatisfied… “This worthless bread!”

When we become dissatisfied, we back out of the will of God.  What changed?  What happened?  He was praising God for that wife at one time.  He was thankful for that job at one time.  He was excited about what God was doing in his church at one time.  So what changed?  Was it what God was doing?  No, God is still doing the same thing.  What changed was him, he became dissatisfied and now he’s ready to quit.  He’s saying things like, “My family deserves to be taken care of!”  “ I've given a lot, when do I get blessed?”  All of those blessings are now just worthless bread, just like with the Israelites.  This is a danger for all of us.  It’s easy to live in our flesh; it’s much harder to walk in the Spirit.  That’s the real problem.  It’s not a God problem; it’s a flesh problem.  What it really is is a crucifixion issue. 

Galatians 5:24 (NKJV)
5:24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Have you crucified your flesh?

Why did the Israelites become dissatisfied with Manna?  I think it’s because they were so familiar with it.  Familiarity breeds contempt. 

“This manna it’s always the same, I want some spice, some variety in my life.  I can’t eat the same old thing day in and day out. I’m sick of this…worthless bread.” 

Dissatisfaction happens when we've been around a while.  I've watched Christians in restaurants.  They’re the worst customers:  Really, they’re so demanding.  They always have to change things, “Can I get vegetables instead of potatoes…oh, and can you make French fries instead of baked?  Oh yeah, and instead of soup and salad can I just have a bigger salad?  Oh the desert has berries, can you make mine peach instead?”  You just ordered a completely different meal.  Christians always expect the best service.  I’ll bet waiters hate it when the church shows up for a fellowship after service.  All that and then no tip.

It’s because they've become so used to being blessed.  They just expect it.  But the same things happen at church.  They get used to the blessing of God and they just expect God to move them all the time.  They expect to have it all, all the time.  “I should feel good after every service.”  “God should be blessing me non-stop all the time.”  When it gets a little tough, and maybe, stays a little tough for a while, we become dissatisfied with God.

Do you know what my friend’s real issue is?  He’s bi-vocational.  He works another job along with pastoring.  His church can’t afford to support him.  That’s the whole issue.  He’s become dissatisfied.  He thinks it shouldn't have to be so hard.

Job 2:10 (NKJV)
2:10 But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

That’s Job after his family, his wealth and his health all disappeared in the same day.  His wife came to him and told him to curse God and die.  That was his response.  I wonder what happened to his wife.  For one thing she had just gone through the same thing Job did.  The difference was that she became dissatisfied and Job didn't.  She wanted only blessing and Job is telling here that blessing comes with adversity . 

Finally, it can be a case of the novelty wearing off.  When you get a new car you wash it and wax it and take care of it.  You notice every little speck of dust that falls on that bad boy.  After a while something happens and your cars always dirty.  There’re dents in it.  It doesn't get washed as often and you start thinking you  need a new car.  The old one is still working and running well, but something’s changed.  You've become dissatisfied.  You’re not excited about it anymore.  If we’re not careful the same thing can happen to our relationship with God.  “Oh another church service…More Manna.  Ho hum.”

Staying Satisfied

So the question is, “Are you still satisfied with Jesus?”  The easy way to tell if you’re satisfied is to see if your life is pointed toward Jesus, or are you staring to look in other directions.  It doesn't have to be that way.

You know we start to become dissatisfied with our car when we stop taking care of it.  It’s not the other way around.  I know this.  When my car gets dirty I don’t want to drive it and I begin to not care about if it’s clean inside either.  Pretty soon I don’t like the car.  I’ll give you an example.  I had a black sports car at one time.  It was bad to the bone.  But one time I got it waxed and the guy missed the top.  Pretty soon the paint started fading and it started looking shabby.  And I started hating that car.

Then I did something…I got it painted.  Then I got it detailed inside.  It was like a brand new car and I began to like it again…and I began to take care of it again.  There are going to be times when you become dissatisfied with your relationship with God.  I want you to know that when you do, it’s not God’s fault.  It’s not your pastor’s fault; it’s your fault.  You've allowed your relationship with God to become dirty and messed up and you've become dissatisfied. So, the way around it is to repent.  You need to repent of your complacency and unbelief.  (That’s what it is, complacency and unbelief.) Star fresh with God.  Look at verse seven of our text:

Numbers 21:7 (NKJV)
21:7 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.

They repented.  “We have spoken against the Lord.”  They've repented.  We speak against the Lord through our dissatisfaction and because of that we need to repent.  I close with this:

Numbers 21:8-9 (NKJV)
21:8 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." 9 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.

The bronze serpent is a type of Jesus.  That means it is symbolic of Jesus. The serpent is lifted up, the people look at it and they’re healed.  There is a lot of complex theology that proves this.  It has to do with healing and atonement, you can study it out for yourselves.  The solution to the curse that comes with dissatisfaction, though, is to look at the crucified Jesus.  Stop for a moment and think about what Jesus did for you.  Think about the blessings you have received in your Christian life.  Has God stopped blessing you or have you become dissatisfied?  

No comments:

Post a Comment