Lift Up Your Eyes

The Ungratefulness of the Israelites

One of the Israelites’ biggest struggles throughout their history with God was ingratitude (and apparently a selective memory).

Time and again they complained.

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 we loathe this worthless food.”

Numbers 21:5

Their words drip with thanklessness and bitterness.  We think to ourselves, “How could they possibly have forgotten what God has done for them? What God is STILL doing for them?”

And yet, don’t we struggle with the very same thing?

Don’t I complain of the mundane when my eyes should be lifted heavenwards? Haven’t I grumbled about my thorn in the flesh, when God has healed the entirety of my sin? Don’t I too grow complacent?

I think of the rest of that passage in Numbers. God sent fiery serpents which bit the people, poisoned them, and ultimately led to many deaths. The irony and the imagery is uncomfortably close to home. Just as they had spread such poison from their mouths, they were subjected to poison. They cried out to God and God provided a solution:

So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. (Numbers 21:9)

Lift Up Your Eyes

The solution to the problem was tough. Because the Israelites had to be reminded to lift their eyes to the symbol of suffering. The symbol of their sin. The symbol of why they needed God.

And yet, we must do the very same thing.

In order to drag ourselves out of the muck of the world, in order to continually live gratefully, joyously, truly for Christ, we need the reminder–that serious, weighty reminder–of the cross. If we don’t remember how very costly and serious our sin is, we won’t be grateful. We won’t be humbly submissive to him.

So today, remember with me the cross. Remember how much we have to be grateful for. And think of how much we can look forward to seeing the One who hung on that cross for us.

Does He still feel the nails
Every time I fail?
Does He hear the crowd cry
Crucify, again?
Am I causing Him pain?
Then I know I’ve got to change
I just can’t bear the thought
Of hurting Him.

(Ray Boltz)



Comments ( 9 )
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  • Alice Mills

    I used to become confused by this until I realized that Jesus literally became sin for us.

  • Heather Hart

    Amen! So thankful for Jesus. For what He was willing to do for us, because I for one, certainly don’t deserve it.

  • Andrea

    and sometimes we have to turn away from ourselves and turn towards Him…..

  • Amy Christensen

    Tracy, I love the symbolism of the Old Testament, but also the reality of the shortcomings of God’s people. We are His people too and you are so right! We do the same things….grumble, complain…I am so glad Jesus paid the price for us all. All I need to do is look up! – Amy

  • Susan Evans

    I try to always see life with an attitude of gratefulness. It turns something bad into something good when you can see the good that might have come from the circumstance.

  • Heather

    Amen, we need to remember the cross always. I am guilty of complaining and forgetting that most importantly God has washed away my sins. He has made me whole and new. Thank you for sharing and reminding us all that we ALWAYS have much to be grateful for.

  • Amy hagerup

    Remembering what Jesus did on the cross for me is so important every single day.

  • Chelsea Bolks

    What an excellent post! Gratefulness is so huge, something most of us struggle with. Getting our eyes off of our present circumstances and onto Jesus makes a world of difference!

  • Christia Colquitt

    So powerful. After reading the Broken Way, I started drawing small cross on my left wrist as a gentle reminder of Christ’s sacrifice. It helped me to stop and reflect.