Mid-week Pastor’s Update 1-25-2023

Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

January 25th, 2023

“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even somust the Son of Man be lifted up,that whoeverbelieves in Him shouldnot perish buthave eternal life.” John 3:14-15

You may be aware that, in our mid-week prayer meeting sessions, a group of us is reading through the book Patriarchs and Prophets by Ellen White, and discussing a chapter each week. A couple weeks ago we were reading the chapter that had to do with Moses, at God’s direction, fashioning and raising a bronze serpent in the wilderness, to save the people from poisonous snakebites they were receiving. It’s a fascinating story, and an inspiring one, particularly if you consider the fulfillment Jesus gave it in the verse quoted above from John 3.

But a sad ending to the story is that, generations later, the bronze serpent became an idol in-and-of itself, and was used for false worship. Approximately 700 years later, it was destroyed amidst a broad period of positive reformation during king Hezekiah’s time. You can read that story in 2nd Kings 18.

As I was reading the PP chapter a couple weeks ago to prepare for the discussion session, it struck me: this is the same thing much of Christianity has done with the cross! How have we gone from (metaphorically) looking to the true sacrifice God provided, to receive salvation by faith, to today having a proliferance of items of jewelry, tattoos, etc. that so many (including celebrities & sports stars) wear while disregarding God’s power and His principles.

And that’s not even to mention the proliferance of the crucifix among Catholics! I’m sure they’d say it’s a symbol reminder to point people to the true sacrifice, but it sure smacks of idolatry to me, if you read the text of the 2nd commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image…you shall not bow down to them nor serve them….” (Exodus 20:4a-5, NKJV).

Just as in the wilderness with Moses was to the Israelites, our looking to the authentic sacrifice God gave in Jesus is salvific to us, and that is of course so beautiful! But lifting up the “object” while potentially diminishing or disregarding the real power behind it is to again idolize! And I think it ends people in a worse place than they began. Curses be upon the devil (and his agents) for twisting around things which God does for man’s salvation to be a source of perdition.

I was struck with how set-in-our-ways humanity is. God does something wonderful: we make an idol out of it. In Israel’s case, it had to be destroyed. In the modern-day cases of jewelry & crucifixes: they are so widely distributed that it’s impossible for a central source to destroy all of them. What’s more: in a land of religious and personal freedom (which are very good things), there is no central authority who even has the ability/authority to demand/ensure their destruction. Essentially, it is up to us as individuals to decide we must do away with them: indeed, with any impostor substituting for the actual power of God: even one that looks like it, or has been an authentic conveyer of His power before.

I have probably felt this over and over again some 50 times or more when reading the Bible: how, despite the fact that we live very different daily lives now than in Bible times (cars, cell-phones, credit cards and the like would stun and baffle old-worlders), its truths are timeless because our nature is the same as it’s always been.

But the good news, friends, is that the Lord we serve, the solution to the sin problem, is also the same. People feel like they’re always doing something new and different, but with years under our belts, and with the Bible as a perspective-giver, we find we agree with king Solomon: “There is nothing new under the sun” (see Ecclesiastes1:9).

I pray for you and your families, that your focus would only be on the true authentic source of salvation God has provided, and never to any imitators or impostors. May our faith be vibrant, our foundation sure, our zeal unquestioned in a world full of swampy indifference.

May God bless you and your families the remainder of this week.


Pr. Mark Tatum

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