Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Easy to Get Snagged

     On one of our many fishing trips to Canada with the family, we had an interesting day on the lake.
Let me give a brief background.  My father-in-law was an excellent fisherman who took great pride in this pass time.  He kindly invited five of us to go fishing with him in one boat as he knew the lake very well and wanted to show us some good spots to fish.
     Everything seemed to be going well until one of us allowed our line to drop down too low as we were trolling (slowly moving the boat).  This resulted in getting the hook snagged on a rock in the lake. Naturally, everyone was asked to reel in until the line was free from this snag.  However, with five people in one boat, several lines got tangled as people reeled in and the lines ended up getting caught in the propeller.  Talk about your ultimate nightmare!  Our motor could not turn the propeller so we were dead in the water, the lines were all tangled, my husband cut the tip of his finger badly and my father-in-law looked forlorn knowing his day of fishing had just gone down the drain.  The line that was caught on the rock did get freed as we paddled the boat closer to the spot where the rock held the hook fast.  We also managed to get a tow into the dock from another fisherman who saw our plight on the lake.  Once we returned to our cabins, it was agreed that five in a fishing boat was not such a good idea, and to think, it all went downhill with one line getting caught on a rock!
Elephant Lake in Ontario, Canada
     I remembered this story as I read the account of the Israelites who became snagged into the worship of false gods.  Numbers 25:1-3 reads:  "While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab.  These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.  So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor, And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel."
     As we may remember, God instructed Israel to have nothing to do with the people of Canaan.  They were not to intermarry or fellowship with them at all as this would defile them and lead them astray.  Israel had agreed to abide by this command. Nevertheless, they, like us, had feet of clay.
     In an earlier chapter of Numbers (22:3), the people of Moab and the Midianites were fearful of the Israelites.  They felt they could not attack.  So they called upon a prophet named Balaam to curse them. However, Balaam was unable to do so.  This did not stop the enemies of Israel.  They decided that if they could not attack them perhaps they could subvert them through immorality and idolatry.  To put it another way, they would try to bring Israel down by corrupting them from the inside.  A footnote to these verses in my "Reformation Study Bible" reads as follows:  "When the world cannot eliminate the witness of the elect through direct conflict, it often tries to neutralize that witness by absorbing the elect into the world."  Very sneaky isn't it?
     Israel was to live apart and be separated from her pagan neighbors.  This nation was God's covenant people who were called to be holy.  Yet, they fell to temptation.  They were snagged by the women of Moab and entered into worship of false gods.  How easy it is for us as believers and for the church as a whole to be drawn off course by the wiles of this world.  It happens so gradually that we often do not notice it until it is too late.
An idol representing Baal
     For this very reason, it is so important that we know what we believe and why we believe it.  Reading and meditating on God's Word is crucial to our daily walk.  Within the pages of the Bible, we come to know the character of God and as we read about His people with their failures and triumphs, we learn how to walk on the narrow path.  Today, many people are ignorant of doctrine.  They are church members, but if they were challenged by someone outside the faith, many have no answer.  And some, can even be drawn into sin just as easily as the Israelites.
     If we say it could never happen to us, this is the time to step back and reconsider.  We might just be on the brink of a fall.  God has called a people to be holy priests unto Himself.  Those whom He has called out of darkness belong to Him, and therefore, are called to live differently than those outside the faith.  Worldly influences, entertainment, and sin looks attractive, but it ends in emptiness compared to the abundant life which Christ gives.
     Today is the day to examine ourselves, our churches, and our relationships in the Body of Christ.  Are we allowing ourselves or our fellowships to become little mirrors of the world rather than a reflection of the Lord?  It doesn't take an army to defeat a people who do not know the Bible or sound doctrine found in its pages.  If we would be Christian soldiers, we must learn to use the Sword of the Spirit (God's Word) with skill.  We won't get snagged on the rocks of unbelief if we focus on following  the Lord in obedience and feeding daily in His Word.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and insights so that others may be encouraged.


Christina said...

Another good word, sister! I'd have to say that corporately, we could probably be described as already being, "snagged". May God give us grace to repent and return and reform! Love your writing -- you must be a fabulous Bible teacher!

Barbara Thayer said...

Thank you for the kind words Christina. My husband and I have such a burden for the church. So many do not understand the doctrines of the faith. Many come to church and live without fully comprehending the foundation of the faith. May God give us all strength and wisdom in these days. I always love your visits!