Snakes and Ladders
When one looks at so many events recorded in our lives and in scripture, it so often looks very much like the game of “Snakes and Ladders.” There is an old English Poem that goes like this, Quote; “For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.” Something apparently so small, just like stepping onto the head of a snake, is going to be a very slippery downward slide, it could be short, or even long, or even disastrously sending you right back to the very start with absolutely nothing. Acts 13:22 “And when he had removed him [King Saul], he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the [son] of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.” Well that is until David started to faulter, gather pagan wives, then came the greater sin with the wife of Uriah, and David repented fully and properly, but his fall still meant that he never ever fully recovered, nor was he fully effective, and then Solomon excelled, but also fell short, the rot had set in and the succeeding kings were mostly vile and pagan, but a few were Godly, but the path back showed few ladders to quickly ascend back to the top, just lots of slippery slimy snakes, and Israel pretty much lived at the bottom, or sinned abundantly with Baal, and falling off the bottom of the chart, never to recover again. All for the ‘want of a horse shoe nail,’ something apparently very small and minute, like stepping on the head of a snake, a little sin, a wee tiny hole in the boat, and the whole ship can founder sinking in a disastrous wreck, well short of the safe Harbour that they had enthusiastically set out for at the very start. Fell short of the ‘Glory of God,’ Baal-Peor and sleeping with the enemy, a few inadvisable moments of carnal foolishness, and the ensuing plague not only took away their physical life but robbed them of their eternal life and Heaven, a miserable little ‘horse shoe nail,’ a few moments when the baser passions held sway, they stepped onto the head of a snake, then went right back to the beginning, lost everything, both this world and the next, the nail becoming the very final nail in their very coffin.
Ezekiel has lots to say about what the consequences of sinning are, and too many try to make light, but sin is destroying to the soul, body and spirit. Ezekiel 18:24 “But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, [and] doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked [man] doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.” Once stepping on a snake, everything is lost, back to the start at the best. Ezekiel 18:21-23 “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: [and] not that he should return from his ways, and live?” If on our Christian walk we somehow fall into sin, we step on the head of a snake, we will fall, maybe even right back to the start, loose everything, with the potential to fall way lower than that and be dead in our trespasses and sins, or we can ‘Repent,’ Ephesians 2:1 “And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins:” and we then start climbing all over again, daily and moment by moment scrambling upwards, earning righteous credits, making progress with the help of the ladders that we use as we scamper back ever closer to God, taking every help that he offers up to us, or has sin erased and wiped out all your past righteous credits, zeroed our account right out to nothing. Sin is dangerous stuff, stepping on the heads of snakes can wipe out decades of hard work, Jacob found a ladder, a ladder to God and holiness, and rung by rung he climbed heavenward.
Peter fell hard, and repentance and a ‘New Life’ replaced all that had been swept away by sin. 2 Peter 1:3-8 “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 John 2:16-17 “For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”How are you going with the “Snakes and Ladders,” in this game called ‘Life and Living?’ Have you been diligent and carefully climbing ladders to heaven, or have you lost your way, lost everything over a simple ‘Nail’ that became the nail in your coffin? Eternity is way to long a time to waste over snakes, horse shoe nails, or any other failing, let us stay away from all such things that would destroy our soul and salvation, clinging to Jesus, repent super quickly, get back on the horse, and take Peter’s advice, 2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and forever. Amen.”