Snake On A Stick

20130818-220644.jpgWell, the 2013 edition of the Iowa State Fair is just about wrapped up. I didn’t go this year, in fact I seldom do. Not enough interest to justify spending the money or coping with the crowds.

However, whenever I talk with someone who’s been to the fair, I have to ask them one question: “What did you eat?”

For the next 10 minutes I hear about all of the food one can get “on a stick”. In case you didn’t go either, here is a list of all the “stick” food you and I missed:

2013 Iowa State Fair Food On-a-Stick
(over 60 food options available on-a-stick)

1. Shrimp Corndog
2. Smoothie On-a-stick
3. Bacon Wrapped Riblet On-a-stick
4. Deep Fried Brownie On-a-stick
5. Coconut Mountain On-a-stick
6. Soft Salted Chocolate Dipped Almond Pretzel On-a-stick
7. Deep Fried Sweet Corn Corndog
8. Rib Shack Cowboy
9. Jalapeño Corndog
10. Chocolate-Covered Chocolate Chip Cannoli
11. Chocolate-Covered Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop
12. Fruit (with yogurt dipping sauce)
13. Double Bacon Corn Dog
14. Chocolate-Covered Frozen S’more
15. Peanut Butter & Jelly
16. Chocolate-Covered Deep Fried Cheesecake
17. Griddle Stick (turkey sausage wrapped in a pancake)
18. Cake Pops
19. Fair Square (Original,Peanut Butter & Graham Champion flavors)
20. Chocolate-Covered Tiramisu
21. Chocolate-Covered Turtle Mousse Bar
22. Twinkie Log (frozen Twinkie dipped in white chocolate & rolled in cashews)
23. Octodog (hotdog in the shape of an octopus)
24. Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Bar
25. Chocolate-Covered Key Lime Dream Bar
26. Carmellows
27. Pickle
28. Pork Chop
29. Corn Dog
30. Cheese
31. Cajun Chicken
32. Sesame Chicken
33. Carmel Apple
34. German Sausage
35. Teriyaki Beef
36. Corn on the Cob
37. Cotton Candy
38. Veggie Corndog
39. Turkey Drumstick
40. Nutty Bar
41. Hot Bologna
42. Chicken
43. Monkey Tail (chocolate-covered banana)
44. Honey
45. Ice Cream Wonder Bar
46. Deep-Fried Snickers
47. Deep-Fried Milky Way
48. Deep-Fried Twinkie
49. Breakfast Lamb Sausage (brat)
50. Deep-Fried Ho-Ho
51. Deep-Fried Cupcake
52. Dutch Letter
53. Chocolate-Covered Cheesecake
54. Pineapple (Fresh pineapple dipped in funnel cake batter & deep fried)
55. Hot Lips (breaded chicken breast smothered with hot sauce, served with blue cheese dressing)
56. Cornbrat (bratwurst dipped in corndog batter)
57. Chocolate-Covered Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich
58. Rock Candy
59. Salad
60. Hard-Boiled Egg
61. Unicorn Lolipops
62. Rainbow Popsicle
63. Push-ups
64. Turkey Tenderloin

Doesn’t the list make you hungry?!? I really like those giant turkey legs! Now, it’s not easy lugging that thing around all day, going in and out of exhibits while brandishing a 10 pound hunk of meat; but one does what one must do. Right?

What if we could get other things, other than food, on a stick? Things like, oh, money, or mail, or, I know, MEDICINE! How about getting our medicine on a stick?

You walk into your local pharmacy, up to the counter, and ask to pick up the prescription you called in earlier. The pharmacist hands you a skinny, hollow stick, about two feet long, filled with your medicine. Not very easy to carry in your pocket or purse, but it’s what the doctor prescribed, it’s what you need, so you hand over the cash and walk out with your “stick”.

The medicine or the stick need not be fancy, tasty, or even widely accepted by everyone in your neighborhood. No, it only has to work. So you deal with it.

Years ago, even before the first Iowa State Fair, in the middle of a desert, there was such a thing as “Snake on a Stick”. The children of Israel were traveling from Egypt to the Promised Land under the leadership of Moses and his brother Aaron. Now the Israelites weren’t known for their congeniality, nor for the way they supported their leaders. In fact, they were downright nasty!

“Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. 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 our soul loathes this worthless bread.” (Numbers 21:4-5 NKJV)

“Worthless bread”, if you didn’t already know, was the “Manna” God had been supernaturally providing for the nation. And they called it “worthless”. How’s that for gratitude?

But guess what? We are no different and can be just as ungrateful!

Look what happened next: “So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” (Numbers 21:6-9 NKJV)

Imagine what that must have looked like! A big “stick” with a bronze snake attached to it! Nothing fancy, actually rather hideous, but it was the “MEDICINE” God prescribed. Medicine on a stick.

When God told them to “look and live”, He wasn’t referring to a ‘casual glance, then go about your day’ kind of look. His instruction, His prescription, was: “if you are dying, forget about everything else and gaze, fix your focus, your attention, on the snake on the stick.”

What would you do if snakes were crawling all around your feet, some slithering up your pant leg, touching your skin with their cold, forked, red tongue? Would you be able to stand still, gazing only at the stick, until you were healed? It would be hard, but that’s what they were told to do.

Because that’s how it is with faith! They got into their mess because they wouldn’t believe God or His leaders. And faith in God’s word would be how they were healed and restored.

The first couple, Adam and Eve, got us all into our predicament, where we were all “bitten by the snake”, due to their lack of faith in God’s word (Genesis 1-3). And faith is how we are healed of spiritual death, return to fellowship with God, and live eternally with Him. Jesus said it like this:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:14-17 NKJV)

As the bronze snake represented the Israelites sin, so Jesus on the cross represents ours. He became our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) so we could become righteous. And like the Israelites, in order for our situation to be remedied, we must look at the “snake on the stick”; steadfastly, in spite of distractions, look at Jesus on the cross. We must believe!

It’s nothing fancy, but it is freeing!

It’s not easy, but it affects our eternity!

Who would have guessed it; God was the first One to put something of real value “on a stick”.