By Lewis Williams
In their awful dilemma, with neighbors and loved ones dying all around them, the children of Israel went to Moses and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee. Pray unto the Lord that He take the serpents from us." And Moses prayed for the people.
What a fortunate thing it was that they had someone who was in touch with the Lord to pray for them. We wonder, dear reader, if there is anybody that is praying for you. Prayer is the key that unlocks God's promises and brings help in the time of need. If you have no one sufficiently interested in you to pray for you, sad indeed is your condition.
How thankful to God we are that we were brought into this life by parents who prayed. We owe our salvation and the position we now occupy largely to the prayers of those who loved us. If nobody cares enough for your soul to constantly and fervently pray for you, of all men your case is indeed forlorn.
"And the Lord said unto Moses: Make thee a fiery serpent and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass that everyone that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live." And Moses obeyed. He took some brass and molded it into the shape of a serpent and put it upon a pole, and when those who had been bitten looked upon the serpent of brass, they were made whole.
We do not know, but there may have been many who would refuse to believe in so simple a remedy. What healing properties has a piece of brass? What is the use for me to look at it? And if God wishes to heal me, is it not as easy for Him to do so without my going to the tent door and looking at that piece of brass? Friends, that is just about the way some of you have been talking. When we hold up Jesus and invite sinners to come and kneel at the altar, confess their sins and pray for pardon, some of you have been making just such excuses. You want to know why you can't be saved back there in your seats, and why you can't go home and get saved by your bedside, and why must you go out to that altar before the crowd, and a lot more questions that are unreasonable. Many of you have sinned publicly and you ought to have moral courage enough to walk out before the world and thereby say to your sinful associates, "I am done with the business and am going to seek God." There is no more saving power in the wood of which this altar is built than there is in that from which the seat you occupy was built; but coming out is a testimony in itself of your resolution and determination; it is a step that will help you and give you courage and faith in your soul.
Again, God has marvelously owned and blessed such procedure, and He seems wonderfully pleased with it, and you ought to be willing to do anything or go anywhere to be saved. You can be saved anywhere only when you are willing to go anywhere to be saved. You should be glad of the opportunity of having a number of God's little ones surround you and hold you up with their prayers; and your unwillingness only shows that you are not willing to do a reasonable thing in order to be saved; your conviction does not amount to very much, else you would be willing to go anywhere to find God.
Those among the children of Israel who realized their awful condition and that they were about to die, would be more than willing to drag their poor, suffering, diseased bodies to the tent door and cast their eyes toward that shining piece of brass yonder on the hill; and it would not be at all surprising if some one, after getting healed, would rush into the tent and cry over and coax their loved ones to come out where they could also be healed. Perhaps they would get so desperate to get others out that they would take hold and literally drag out some of their loved ones.
That is just why this meeting is being held. Some of us were badly bitten by sin, but we found the great Physician, and we are so anxious that you who also have been bitten shall be healed, that this meeting has been planned for and we are leaving no stone unturned in our endeavors to get you to see and take the remedy. It would not be surprising if some of these friends, becoming so burdened for you, should not only go back and try to persuade you, but will almost try to drag you to the mercy-seat. Having been sinners themselves, and finding the power to break the charms of sin and to pardon them, they see and realize your awful condition, and that death and Hell await any impenitent soul. No wonder they are concerned for you!
Then again, when Jesus is held up as the Lamb of God, able to save unto the uttermost all that will come unto God by Him; able to cleanse the heart from the presence, pollution and stains of inherited sin, and, thus cleansed, to fill it with perfect love to God and man, and when such an experience is obtainable by all of God's regenerated people, and to be obtained here and now by coming to the altar and making a complete consecration of "friends and time and earthly store," both now and as long as life shall last, and we press souls to come right out and make their consecration and obtain the experience immediately, we say, when this is done, there are some who at once begin to draw back and the old excuses, "Can't I get it without going to that altar? Why can't I get it at home? I don't believe in making a public show of one's self," and many more such, are heard from folks who have the dreaded deadly poison in their very natures; but still they hold back and refuse to get where they can see the brazen serpent. And so anxious are their friends to get them to the great Physician, and to prove to them the perfect cure, that they will get up a special occasion, put in their money, and stand up themselves and testify to the completeness of the cure, all to show and prove to them that it is for all who will pay the price; i. e., come to the door of the tent and look.
North, south, east and west God has shown forth His mighty power in the pardon and regeneration of all kinds and classes of sinners -- from the lady of refinement, wealth and culture, to Magdalenes of the street; from bankers and business men, to the hardest criminals of the darkest walks in life. None ever came to Him earnestly entreating, but that he or she received an answer. And for the past two thousand years the Holy Ghost has ever been present to apply the Blood and witness to its cleansing power, as the children of God have acknowledged the Uncleanness of their natures, and, consecrating fully, have come before Him for a second distinct work of grace that made their hearts "whiter than snow." Glory be to God the Father, glory be to God the Son, and glory be to God the Holy Ghost, the Physician is able, the cure is complete! Oh, friends, wherever you are tonight, if you are a bitten soul, lose no time, but get to the door of the tent and look! "There is life for a look at the Crucified One; there is life at this moment for thee."
Hear a poor Israelite complain,
"Oh, can no medicine then be found
To ease my agonizing pain;
Nor balm to heal my festering wound!"
This earth no medicine can supply,
No balm to heal the serpent's bite;
But lift once more the dying eye,
And thou shalt live, poor Israelite.
He looks on high, and sees a pole
Round which a brazen serpent coils,
No more his eyes with anguish roll,
No more his blood with fever boils.
Nor does the sight heal one alone;
A thousand dying sufferers gaze,
And every shriek and every groan
Is turned to joyful songs of praise.
This history seems to me a glass,
In which I can my Savior see;
As Moses reared that form of brass,
So Christ was lifted on a tree.
Full well I know the reason why
Upon that tree my Savior hung,
He saw us at the point to die,
Wounded by Satan's lying tongue.
He saw the serpent's poisonous fangs
Make pride to swell, and rage to burn,
Fill us with envy's gnawing pangs,
And spotless hearts to devils turn.
He saw -- he pitied -- and he bore
Our sins upon the bloody tree;
He bade us look, that evermore
From sin and death we might be free.
O Lord! 'tis not with fleshly eyes
That I am bid on Thee to gaze;
My inward eyes can pierce the skies,
Those inward eyes to Thee I raise.
If on Thy death I meditate,
And pardon for Thy sake entreat,
My soul's disease will soon abate,
And groans be changed to praises sweet.