Do you remember the story of the fiery serpents and the children of Israel as they wandered in the desert with Moses? Among the trials that the Lord’s people faced during this time was a plague of fiery serpents when their faith began to wane. This new test did humble the people and they pled with Moses to beg the Lord for forgiveness.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
The miracles of God that these people witnessed were many, both great and small. Where did the Lord’s commandment to look and live fall in the spectrum of perceived greatness? It was a very quiet miracle, with a simple commandment. The Lord beckoned His people with a symbol of His love. We learn in the New Testament that the symbol Moses fashioned under the Lord’s direction was an evidence of a greater sacrifice: that of the Savior Jesus Christ.
John 3:14— And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Just as the Israelites, we are admonished to look to the Savior for our hope, salvation and eternal life. The sad thing is that even though many willingly looked upon the serpent, there were also many who did not.
1 Nephi 17:41— And he did straiten them in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity. He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.
The Israelites had seen many spectacular miracles from the Lord’s hand, their way had been opened before them, their needs were provided for. But when it came down to it— His ways seemed too easy. It wasn’t a matter of whether or not they believed the Lord could heal them, but rather a lack of faith in His commandments through which healing was promised. The answer was too easy. Often we face the same disbelief that cost a number of Israelites their lives. Sometimes we don’t accept what we should do, because in times of trial it seems too easy. Looking, or focusing on the Lord’s commandments, does not seem powerful enough to heal our lives and hearts. Yet, it is. The Lord’s answers are always the way to life.
Developing the faith of a disciple means we must learn to “look to God and live”. It means learning to trust the Lord, no matter what answer He gives to direct our faltering footsteps. Our restricted vision may even worry that He is leading us away from what we need. The answer may be a simple course correction. It may mean a greater challenge that seems too difficult and beyond our reach. No matter the commandment, if we focus on Christ without giving in to doubt and fear the blessings will follow.
The basic standard that the Lord has set up for us is to gain a firm foundation in His gospel through scripture study, prayer, church attendance, and service to others. These principles do not change, no matter the trial. This is where we must first look and make sure our lives are in order, then the Lord directs us, leading our lives back to Him. Everything else in the gospel of Jesus Christ is built on your personal relationship with the Savior. If we are to look to Him for our salvation, we need to understand who He is.
When is the last time you had a “spiritual eye exam”? Take a moment to reflect on how clear your view of the Savior is. Have you forgotten the basic steps of coming unto Christ because they seem too simple? They seem so small and insignificant. It is very easy to let them slip from view and be forgotten in the busyness of life. But if we are not looking, if we are not reading and praying, our souls are dying. Do not let yourself come to the same fate as many of the Israelites. Look and live.