Part 1 – Snakes and Ladders: Entrapments and Enablers in the complex maze of life.
By Rev. Albert Ocran

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.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.Numbers 21:4‭-‬6 NKJV

Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Ge 28:10‭-‬14 NKJV

Israel and Jacob were at different times traveling with God. In the case of Israel, they questioned God’s judgement and dismissed His provision as worthless bread. As a result, God sent snakes that bit many to death. They had to pause, repent and be restored. There are snakes on life’s journey. We have to be careful when we come to a place of weakness, we don’t become ungrateful to God.
Jacob experienced God’s enablement. As he travelled towards his destiny, he came to a place of vulnerability. He was alone at night in the middle of nowhere. As he slept on a stone, God revealed a ladder that gave him a view of heaven and an assurance from God about his future.
1. Each of us is on a journey with God – There is a starting point and a finishing point. He gives us a new identity. He tells us there is an expected end for us.
2. There are different types and lengths of snakes and ladders along the journey and they often exist side by side.
3. Our journey is either hindered by snakes or helped by ladders. Snakes take us down and ladders take us up.
4. Our choices, decisions and actions determine whether we end up with a snake or a ladder. Every step you take today will either help or hinder you from getting to your destination.
Ecclesiastes 10:8
He who digs a pit will fall into it, and whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a serpent.

1. The Voice of Temptation.
Very often, at the very beginning of your journey, the most likely snake to appear first is the voice of temptation. At the beginning, the destination looks far away and so temptation offers a shortcut – financial, emotional or even spiritual shortcuts.
In Matthew 4:1-11, Satan offered Jesus three alternatives. “Bow down and I will give you the kingdoms of this world.” This was a shortcut to a destination He would arrive at in any case. The Kingdom, power and glory ultimately belonged to Christ but he had to resist the shortcuts.
Impatience will let you succumb and be bitten by the snake of temptation.

2. The Voice Of Wrong Counsel.
After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. 2 Amnon was so distressed over his sister Tamar that he became sick; for she was a virgin. And it was improper for Amnon to do anything to her. 3 But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Now Jonadab was a very crafty man.2 Samuel 13:1-3

WHO IS YOUR FRIEND? WHOSE VOICE DO YOU LISTEN TO?
Amnon as a first born was the natural successor to David. By the Jewish law, he was entitled to a double portion of the inheritance. Instead of preparing for his ultimate future as potential king of Israel, he surrendered to his sexual appetite.
Why? Because when the snake of temptation came, he turned to the wrong person and allowed the snake of wrong counsel to bite him. Who do you speak to when you are battling with wrong thoughts? A Jonadab can even be someone close (Amnon’s first cousin) but listening to him or her will set you up for failure.
May God deliver us from wrong counsel. May we discern bad counsel.
Isaiah 14:12-15 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ 15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.”

3. The Voice of Pride.
This snake is not for beginners. It often emerges when you start climbing up the leadership ladder. Every young manager, young pastor or emerging leader must look out for it. When you start doing well and people start commending you, this snake will be that voice that whispers that you’re better than your mentor or boss.
The snake of pride throws up comparative words phrases such as I WILL ALSO and I WILL BE LIKE at you. Like Lucifer, the snake of pride can pluck you from glory and bring you down. Isaiah 14:12-15

1 Samuel 15:9-11 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. 10 Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, 11 “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night.”

4. The Voice of Convenience.
This is about selective obedience or compliance. God raised Saul from insignificance and made him king. But immediately, the snake of convenience showed up. This snake says when God speaks, give up the easy things but not the difficult ones. God said utterly destroy but Saul made a selection. Samuel cried all night because of Saul’s mistake. When a snake bites, it hurts you as well as others connected to you. The higher you go, your mistake is also more costly.
Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Lu 12:16‭-‬21 NKJV

5. The Voice of Disconnection.
This is about the failure to discern the times and purposes of God for your life. In Luke 12:16-21, we see that after God blessed the Rich Fool, he chose to focus on himself and got bitten by this snake.
This is the ultimate snake each of us must guard against; the one that makes us glorify the flesh and the things of this life and disconnect ourselves from God. This snake is the longest one that attacks close to the very top and brings you all the way back to the bottom. Friend, do you know how you got that blessing? Do you know who orchestrated your last breakthrough? Remember the Lord. May God deliver you from every snake of temptation, wrong counsel, pride, convenience and disconnection.

Part 2 – Click here to continue…

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