Sunday, November 21, 2010


As we approach Thanksgiving Day 2010, let’s take a moment to reflect on the goodness of God. To many, this day means only “Turkey Day” with everyone gorging themselves with a huge meal. Then there are the football games, big movie openings, and overall a big holiday, while preparing for shopping on “Black Friday”, the day merchants live for all year that will put their revenues “in the black” as they kick off Christmas sales in earnest (even though the Christmas merchandising began with some stores in late August).

Commercialization was certainly not the goal of the first Thanksgiving back in Plymouth colony in the autumn of 1621. (Click for a concise account of Thanksgiving Day’s history) Some of the stories written about Plymouth, the Pilgrims, and even the Mayflower totally ignore the religious aspect of it all in keeping with today’s totally insane “political correctness”. But the fact is, the Pilgrims, who were essentially English Puritan separatists, came to America to find freedom to worship God Almighty. They had been persecuted in England, disappointed in the general carnality of Dutch life, even though they had more freedom in Holland. So they contracted a sailing vessel to strike out for the new world with a hope of freely serving God, and building their own society here.

The Mayflower Compact, which they drew up on the way over, is one of the bedrocks of America’s foundation, for they set up a “civil body politick” which was the first sort of a “declaration of independence”. It expressed their determination to govern themselves under God, with due allegiance to the British government. It begins unlike any secular document, with these words “In ye name of God, amen”.

Thus it began, and upon arrival in the new world they landed briefly at Cape Cod, finally settled at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and after losing 46 of the original 102 passengers, the rest struggled to survive. They were provided help by the local native Indians. One year later they gathered all over the colony for meals shared with the native Wampanoag. It lasted for several days straight, giving thanks and remembrance of God’s blessings on them all. It did not become a tradition until a few years later (more online info about this first feast).

Things I am thankful for include:

-My dear wife of almost 49 years, and how she has been faithful and true.
-My four children, three of which survive. All have declared faith in Christ.
-My twelve grandchildren. They are all precious to me.
-Our church where Christ is preached, and the brothers and sisters there.
-The renewed ministry God has given me in writing and pulpit.
-Many brothers and sisters in various places who pray for me.
-A land that still has much freedom, though it is being undermined.
-I am thankful for generally good health for my wife and myself.
-The graciousness and mercy of God every day that I live.

These are just a few of the many things for which I thank God. As you enjoy this Thanksgiving, hopefully with your family, take time to reflect on the mercies of God in your own life, as well as a prayer for our nation and it’s future, and the cause of God and truth through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (First Thessalonians 5:18).

“By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Published by Charles Woodruff. Email:

Monday, November 15, 2010



I have had this article on here before, over two years ago. After writing on The Brazen Serpent, I decided to run it again, slightly revised, to expand on Moses for those who did not read it the first time. cw

Moses was keeping the flock for Jethro, his father-in-law, and as he approached Horeb, called the mountain of God, the angel of God appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush. “and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt” (Exodus 3:2,3).

There was both curiosity and fear in Moses as he saw the burning bush. More fear came when a voice revealed just who it really was there in the burning bush. “Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (Exodus 3:6). Fear of God is necessary, and normal. A sign of the decadence of our society is -- “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). It was a mark of identification for God to reveal Himself this way. He was to be feared and respected as the God of Moses' ancestors. This was progressive revelation. He had revealed Himself to Abraham as Elohim, the true God who should be feared and obeyed, and as El Shaddai (Almighty God). Then upon the test of offering Isaac, Abraham, as well as Isaac understood God to be Jehovah Jireh (The Provider, or Jehovah Will Provide). “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (Genesis 22:14).


God spoke to Isaac several times in his life and was almost always called Jehovah (perhaps because Moses, the human writer of Genesis, was given the fuller revelation of Jehovah). (1) Then we have Jacob (later called Israel). God also met with him in a special way: “And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:12-17). Jacob had the encounter with God at Bethel (House of God) and went on to be a prince of God named Israel. He had 12 sons. One of his sons was Levi. This became the line of the priesthood. Moses and Aaron came from that line. Remember Aaron became the high priest, while Moses became a prophet of God, and he was also the civil authority; the leader of the nation. At the bush God meets with Moses and reminds him of His history with these patriarchs.


The experience at the burning bush was preparing Moses for later miracles when God would reveal Himself as the all sufficient I AM. Moses had no doubt been told that Horeb (Sinai) was the mount of God and that it was a place of awe. (2) God used this to rouse up Moses’ curiosity leading him to investigate Mount Horeb. But even more awesome was to see that bush-- that burned and yet was not consumed! Then God reminded Moses that the place was holy ground; holy only because God Himself was there. “And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, here am I. And he said, draw not nigh hither: put of thy shoes from of thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground”(Exodus 3:4-5). We go on to see that God had a task for Moses. God was going to use him to deliver His people. God uses men. He doesn't have to. He made the universe. He controls all things. He is before all things. He will be here after all things are gone. He is working out all things according to His purpose. Part of that purpose involves man. Here He was getting ready to use a man. Through the ages He has used many men (and women too at times), to work out His plan. God even became a man to finish the greatest part of His plan of redemption.


Moses was perhaps the greatest man in the Bible, with the exception of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Pretty remarkable when you consider that if God had not providentially rescued him from the bulrushes by the Nile River, he would not have survived. How God rescued him was more remarkable. Pharaoh’s daughter had mercy on him and took him and hid him and raised him as her own. It is even more remarkable that Moses’ sister (Miriam is the only sister of Moses ever mentioned – it was most likely her), was at the river when Pharaoh’s daughter saved the baby Moses (see Exodus 2:4,7).It is remarkable also, that she had the sister choose a Hebrew woman to nurse him, and it was Moses own mother, Jocebed. Remarkable too that Pharaoh’s daughter even paid her wages to care for “her” child. Remarkable that Moses obtained position and received the best education possible in the land of Egypt. Later it was remarkable that “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11: 24, 25). It is remarkable that he sided with the slaves rather than be their taskmaster. Remarkable today that three religions revere him as a prophet. “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:1-2).Those words were written by Moses as the psalmist, many years after this first encounter. It is said that Moses spent 40 years in Egypt learning all of man's wisdom available at that time, 40 years on the backside of the desert unlearning all this worldly wisdom, and then 40 years with God learning divine wisdom. Then Moses was ready to be one of the psalmists, as well as a prophet and leader. More later-- D.V.

(1) The King James Version usually renders Jehovah as LORD, but transliterates Jehovah seven times. Later translations, starting with ASV, using Jehovah almost exclusively, then to later versions going back to LORD (e.g. ESV), and some simply Lord (e.g. AMP). It’s obvious that scholars are divided on what to call Him. Yahweh is accepted, even preferred by many. Of course the ancient Jews wouldn’t pronounce the sacred name. In Hebrew there are no vowels, so it comes out like YHWH or JHVH. It is said the scribes would use a pen to write it once, and then discard it. The point being that this God told Moses to tell Pharaoh that I AM was sending Moses. He said His name was I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14). That is good enough for me!

(2) These mountains are called Horeb, and sometimes Sinai. Some think that Horeb is the name of the whole range, and Sinai is the name of a particular mountain; others, that Sinai is the range, and Horeb is the particular mountain; while Stanley suggests that the distinction is one of usage, and that both names are applied to the same place. (Smith’s Bible Dictionary)

Friday, November 05, 2010



“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” (Numbers 21:8,9).

The people of Israel had sinned, and Jehovah sent venomous snakes among them, with a bite like fire, and venom that killed many of them. What was the great sin that caused this? Some of the Hebrew people themselves tell us, as they told Moses. “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”(Numbers 21:7).

It was not then, nor is it now, a light thing to speak against the LORD. Through Moses, Jehovah had led them out of Egypt where they had been in cruel bondage. But in the process of traveling through the wilderness from Mount Hor, they murmured and complained. It was bad enough to complain against Jehovah’s servant, Moses, but to also complain against Jehovah Himself; this was very dangerous. “And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there water; and our soul loatheth this light bread” (Numbers 21:5).

What kind of serpents were these? We are not told exactly, but they were possibly of a golden
color. They were native to that wilderness around Arabah as they were going around Edom by
way of the Red Sea. Arabah is a desolate rift that runs from the Gulf of Aquaba in the south for
103 miles up to the Dead Sea, which at 1,368 feet below sea level, is the lowest point on the
earth. There is almost no rain in the Arabah, so it is incredibly dry. In the middle of Moses’
magnificent reminder to Israel of God’s provision for them, he speaks of this wilderness and the
serpents. “When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;

And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all
that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end.” (Deuteronomy 8:11-16).

It was the divine plan of God to bring them through that wilderness. It was their complaining and murmuring that brought about His judgment. They even complained about the manna He
provided for their food, calling it “this light bread”.

This wilderness was a desolate and dangerous place, but until they rebelled God had protected
them from the snakes and scorpions. We know in the Middle East there are, even today, snakes in the desert areas. There are vipers, and asps (cobras). “that the naja haie was the ‘fiery serpent’, or serpent inflicting a burning bite, appears from the name Ras-om-Haye (Cape of the haje serpents) in the locality where the Israelites were bitten. (Numbers 21:6)” According to Fausset, the haje naja is an Egyptian Cobra, very fiery and deadly indeed. (From Robert Fausset‘s Dictionary; online at esword; article on ‘adder‘).

Here in the southern USA, we are used to seeing snakes from time to time. When I lived in the
city of Atlanta, I did not often see snakes, except sometimes a Garter Snake, or in woodsy areas
perhaps an occasional Copperhead. Now, I live in a rural area about 40 miles south of Atlanta,
and we frequently see Copperheads, Cottonmouths, and sometimes Timber Rattlers. That’s three out of the four species of venomous snakes found in North America! We are a little too far north for the other one, the Coral Snake. With all that said, we don’t see them every day menacing us, but be careful in the woods and brush, for they are around, especially in the summer.

I personally think snakes are interesting--from a distance! Up close and personal, they’re not
much fun. Two years ago I was in my back yard and I heard an animal cry (actually more of a
squeak). I looked in the grass to my left in time to see a snake wrapping around a field mouse as
he convulsed in death. I watched him swallow the mouse from my vantage point about three feet
away. This is something I had never before seen, in person, and it was fascinating. I think the
snake was a Copperhead. It was about three feet long. I wasn’t scared. You know why? He had
his mouth full! After he ate the creature, I started to kill him, but I couldn’t. I went away and let
him go.

A neighbor released three non-venomous King Snakes in the neighborhood this spring. His
reasoning was that King Snakes eat rats, and also eat Rattlesnakes and Copperheads. When my
grandson first saw one of the King Snakes slithering through our yard, he cried out loudly
“Diamondback! Diamondback!” We got a laugh out of it, for my wife, my son and I knew what it
was. Thankfully, the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (the most deadly, and largest rattler in the south), are not generally found this far north, but usually south of Macon, about 100 miles away.

The wilderness the children of Israel were crossing was much more dangerous, and, of course
Jehovah Himself sent the serpents in large numbers to do His bidding. They did, and many of the people who were bitten and dying, cried out to God. It is said that when the people gazed on the brass serpent that Moses had made, and put on the pole, they were healed of the deadly bites. The medical profession in modern times adopted the serpent on a pole as a symbol. This is from the Bible. You may have seen it at hospitals, doctor’s offices, and on some medical literature. It is still used today. This was a real event in history, but like so much in Israel, it was also a type. It represented something much more far reaching that the localized snake bites.

Jesus Christ Himself tells us what it meant when He said “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” (John 3:14,15). Can you not see immediately what the brass serpent typified? You see all humans have been bitten by the serpents of sin and there is no remedy except the lifting up of Jesus Christ on the cross in His death. You may say “But Christ was not typified in the brass serpent”. Oh yes He was. The Bible says “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:11). That does not mean Christ was a sinner. As it says here, “He knew no sin.” But, God regarded Him as a sinner on our behalf. He wasn’t bitten. He carried none of the deadly poison, yet He died for us. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). (His name, Jesus, means saviour). “God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:12). So this saviour, Jesus, who is the Christ (the Messiah), who had none of the poison of sin, was treated as if He were the vilest sinner who ever lived. He did that for me! He did that for you! That is, if you have looked at Him on that cross with a God-given faith to believe. Just as the look at the brass serpent took away the poison; a look at the Lamb of God sacrificed for us takes away the poison of sin. In Him we live! Hallelujah!

Charles Haddon Spurgeon of England, was perhaps the most gifted 19th century preacher of all. In his conversion testimony, he tells of being under conviction of sin for quite some time. On a
snowy morning in London, he ducked into a small Primitive Methodist chapel. According to his
own testimony it was January 6, 1850. He was 16 years old. The regular preacher wasn’t even
there. A fill-in preacher was doing his best to declare Christ. He used this text: “Look unto me,
and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22). The words hit the young Mr. Spurgeon like a hammer. I am going to let the great preacher tell us in his own words the rest of the story.

“I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the
goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain
place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little
Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people's heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache. The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man,* a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was,—

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a
glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus—"My dear friends, this is a very
simple text indeed. It says, 'Look.' Now lookin' don't take a deal of pains. It ain't liftin' your foot
or your finger; it is just, 'Look.' Well, a man needn't go to College to learn to look. You may be
the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn't be worth a thousand a year to be able to
look. Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, 'Look unto Me.' Ay!" said
he, in broad Essex, "many on ye are lookin' to yourselves, but it's no use lookin' there. You'll
never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, 'Look unto Me.' Some on ye say, 'We must wait for the Spirit's workin'.' You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, 'Look unto Me.'"

Then the good man followed up his text in this way:—"Look unto Me; I am sweatin' great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin' on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin' at the Father's right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!

When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, "Young man, you look very miserable." Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, "and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death,—if you don't obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved." Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, "Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin' to do but to look and live." I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said,—I did not take much notice of it,—I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, "Look!" what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, "Trust Christ, and you shall be saved." Yet it was, no doubt, all wisely ordered, and now I can say,—
"Ever since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die."


“ I looked to Him;
He looked on me;
and we were one for ever.”—C. H. S.

(From Spurgeon’s Autobiography; The Early Years; Banner of Truth edition, 1967. In chapter
seven “The Great Change-Conversion”)

So, can you not see, my sinner friend just what that serpent on the pole that Jesus referred to is all about. It is about your salvation. Like Mr. Spurgeon, you must look! Look my friend! Gaze on
Him, and the poison will be nullified. It is a figure, but so true! Look unto Him spiritually and you
too shall be delivered from your sins, and their just punishment. Oh, please look unto Jesus!

Published by Charles Woodruff- email:
Snail mail: 90 Raymond Ray Street, Newnan, GA 30265-1611