My subject tonight is “Bright Lights”—not Christian bright lights, but what the world calls “bright lights”—the “big bugs.” I want you to see how they go out—so suddenly, so surely. The switch goes off very easily, the connection is broken, and they vanish into darkness. They shine like diamonds; then they envy the sun, and out they go. Notice this verse in Numbers 16:2: “And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown.”
Here is a crowd of “bright lights” who came before Moses to “call him down” and oppose his leadership, and that of Aaron. Now God had chosen Moses at the burning bush and sent him to deliver the children of Israel from slavery. God told Moses to say: “The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you.” Now these men come to try to set aside God’s appointed leaders, and substitute some “bright lights” to be chosen by the 250 men of renown. God definitely chose Aaron as high priest also. This is His command to Moses: “Take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.” And now these “bright lights” dare to say to Moses: “Ye take too much upon you—wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?”They try to set God’s appointments aside. That is the point I want to make tonight—that damnation will come to men and women who set aside God’s appointed way of salvation, God’s Son.
It does not make any difference what you, what other men, may think would be a good way for God to run matters and save men. It is your business to accept salvation and leadership and life at the hands of the chosen one of God, who said: “I am the way, the truth and the life—no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” God could have made food and dropped it on the shores and in the valleys like small rocks, but he didn’t, and if you live it is because you eat it as it is appointed. You may think that it is useless to drink water to live—but if you don’t drink it you will die.
After Your Plan?
We had some beautiful blooming plants in our house that did not grow in dirt or in water. I called them “Christian plants.” They had a beautiful growth, yet they did not grow in dirt or in water.
You might say: “I believe that God ought to have made men so that they would not crave water, so that they might live without water, without food,” but it does not make any difference what you argue, even if you think you are a “bright light.” God has His appointed way, and you will have to take the way God provides or you will have to die.
Now God puts salvation on the same basis, even if there are objecting “bright lights.” He has appointed Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, “the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the earth,” crucified on Calvary, to pay the wages of sin, risen from the dead, victor over death, to give new life to all who believe. That is God’s appointed way of salvation. You may think there is a better. God says take it or you die.
“Now this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Jesus is the light; Jesus is the appointed way of salvation; yet men are providing every other kind of way, cults, sects, schemes, by the hundreds literally, and more and more of them rising every day to try to lead the people away, saying “Here is the philosophy of life; that will bring life; here is the way.” And God says, “Look at the cross where Jesus became a curse and took our sins”; “Look where He opened the tomb and came forth and offers you life if you will take Him.” Any other way, my friends, is straight rebellion against the appointed way of God.
God’s plan for the people of Israel was that Aaron and his sons were to be the priests. It didn’t make any difference if 250 “bright lights” didn’t agree to it and wanted to be consulted as to who should be their leaders, and railed against Moses and Aaron. God’s plan was just he same.
They Rose Up
This second verse of this same chapter says: “They rose upbefore Moses.” That’s it—straightening up their backs against God’s appointed way and God’s appointed plan, and with their big heads saying, I suppose: “We’re going to tell you how to do it. There is a better way, Moses—a broader way, and we are going to show you how. Let usdo it; let uspick someone to administer the priestly office who can do it better than God’s chosen one.”
Now see the great contrast in Moses’ behavior as we read the fifth verse: “And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face.”
Now there is the difference between the “bright lights” and the man who will accept God’s way. Moses, when he first heard of it, though he was God’s appointed leader miraculously set apart, instead of bristling up and striking his chest and saying “I AM THE LEADER,” what did he do? He fell on his face before God. Yet the “bright lights” and the ones just like them tonight are going around in their assumption, holding up their heads and saying: “I don’t care what you say about Jesus Christ. We don’t believe the Bible. We could write a better one. We don’t believe that Jesus was divine. We don’t believe it was necessary for God to put one man on the cross to die for all the people.”
Modern “Bright Lights”
All right, stiffen your backs. Thank God, I want to fall on my face before Him tonight, and crown Him Lord of all, and take salvation just as He offers it, for I was a sinner and a rebel and a traitor to God, yet He took me in at the cross and allows me the sweet fellowship of Jesus my Savior.
What are the “bright lights” of today saying? “I will show you mybook—how Iwrote it—howIgot the key to the scripture. Idon’t believe in a hell.” Like one preacher I heard about, who got right up on the platform in a union meeting and shook his fist over the audience and said: “Preaching about hell? My God is not a monster!” But Jesus, whom they set aside with the same words the men of renown used to Moses, “Ye take too much upon you”—this same Jesus said: “They shall be cast into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth!”
Bound By The Book
A preacher is bound by God’s Book. I have no right to tell you what I think. It makes very little difference what I think. My place is on my face before God. It is my business to tell out what God has told into His Book.
Moses challenges the “bright lights” to a straight and clear test. He throws the controversy up to God and is willing to stand or fall at God’s answer to the test. “This do,” says Moses: “Take your censers and put fire therein before the Lord tomorrow—and it shall be that the man whom the Lord shall choose he shall be holy.”
I throw out the same challenge to the “bright lights” of our day—to the men who wish to change this Book; to the men who deny the need of the cross. I defy you with your philosophies to lift a man from the gutter and take him into glory. Let us see whether there is any power in your theories; whether you put the shout on human lips, and see every band broken and a new life put in. Examine all the isms in the world today and you will find that not a one of them has a following who have overflowing joy. No shout can come into the heart until God has lifted the awful load of condemnation, and the Holy Spirit gives that wonderful soul-stirring witness that sin has been cleansed through Christ’s work on the cross.
Moses Dares Them
Moses dares them to meet the test, since they think they can make themselves self-appointed agents of God. He says: “And bring ye before the Lord every man his censer—250 censers.” These are the tools of priesthood.
And the next day out they came with their censers before the whole congregation. And God said to Moses and to Aaron: “Separate yourselves from this congregation that I may consume them in a moment.” The crowd of our day is lining up the same way. “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness,” and it is becoming more foolish all the time. Men are laughing at the cross. Even so-called preachers by the thousands are laughing at the truth of the substitution of the life of Jesus for our own wicked life. They want to talk about a “divine spark” in us. And, above all the rest of it, they take God’s Christ and make out of Him an ignominious fool, a liar. Jesus would be the biggest liar that ever came into the world unless that cross of Christ means everything.
Cross The Foundation
It is the foundation of every promise from Genesis to Revelation. If you take the cross out of the gospel you haven’t a bit of gospel: “good news” for any man. If you say to men, “Jesus walked on this earth; He was a good man, and if you will be like Him God will save you,” that is no good news to the man who knows that envy and passion and lust and murder and hatred grow in his heart. Oh, but when you tell him it is all blotted out in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and Jesus can give him a new life that is above death, thank God, that is mighty good news!
See what God did with the crowd of “bright lights” who lined up against Moses to depose him and pick their own man: “And there came a fire out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men that offered incense.” Why? Because God wanted to vindicate Moses? No. God was vindicating Himself. He had put Moses there, His own appointed Aaron there, and these men tried to intrude into His appointed way and His priesthood.
To Be Reckoned With
The “bright lights” of our day are to be reckoned with by God. They are contradicting the cross and are going pretty good now. But, thank God, there is a time coming when the earth will open her mouth and that is the last we will see of theirmouths. Don’t think that anything I have to say is to slap anyone personally in the face. I am not trying to bring judgment on them. All I am after is to try to warn you against such false shepherds, and get you to the salvation Jesus gives. Let God take care of them. I tell you, my friend, no hotter judgment can fall on any man than the man who stands as a leader of the people and will lead men away from the cross of Jesus Christ. What more terrible thing can any man do than lead a man away from the place where God can save him? Yet by preaching doubts, and formality, and churchanity, and organizations, men are blocking up the way until if Jesus were here He would say to these, as He did to the Jews: “But woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”
The Fire Consumed
God allowed the fire to consume the “bright lights” who would have cut off the light of God from the people. You will find everything that God shows you in the miraculous has at the bottom of it protection or enlargement of the most fundamental, vital truth in the world. This awful thing happened not because God wanted to show vengeance, but because it involved the most vital thing in God’s plan of salvation, namely priesthood. If a man steps in and tries to substitute something else than God’s appointed plan of salvation, where are people going to go for light? God must wreak His awful wrath upon sin that reaches such a place of philosophy that it dares to substitute anything else than Christ crucified and risen. God opened heaven and said: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And God allowed this to happen because it sheltered the very bulwark of salvation for men. No man dare enter into this priestly office; to substitute humanity’s best judgment or works for the life of Jesus Christ.
The vengeance of God and the wrath of God will fall on you if you dare to say to Him, or say to people: “I am going to be saved by my own character.” God help you to drop on your face and cry to God: “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Are you going to substitute churchanity, are you going to substitute something you belong to, your little rule of conduct, and say “I’m not so bad,” when Jesus Christ is offered to you free—when God’s own Son is in the garden, sweating drops of blood, saying, “My Father, if there be any other way, allow this cup to pass from me”? And God did not let the cup pass from Him, but He had to drink the dirty dregs of the wrath of God upon sin, and take it upon Himself, and become the stench in God’s nostrils. Yet you say it was not necessary for Jesus to die. You are trampling tonight the blood of Jesus under your feet, and all the government of heaven is against you until you line up with His Son. His Son is offering, with open arms of love and pity and mercy and tenderness, life for you, and you trample His offer under your feet.
Rather Be A Heathen
I would rather be a heathen in the darkest part of the world, bowing down to my little mud god, than some of you fellows outside of the blood of Jesus Christ. I will take their chances against yours a thousand to one. I know they have not the chance of heaven, for there is no other way to get in but through Jesus; but when it comes to God’s dealing with them and you His wrath on you will be an awful thing.
God’s plan is a simple one. You do not have to go through a long rigmarole. You can walk right down that aisle and be saved in a minute. Somebody says: “I don’t believe in it. I believe it is unjust.” You are lined up with these 250 “bright lights” and are telling God He expects too much. You want to make fun of the men and women who will get out of their seats tonight and in five minutes get into Jesus Christ. Don’t’ listen to objectors, sinner friends. You don’t have to struggle for it. You don’t have to work for it. You can take it tonight as the simple offer of God. Will you take it?
Uzziah A Bright Light
Now we come to Uzziah. That fellow was a “bright light.” Do you know, living in Uzziah’s time, Isaiah thought he was such a great king and “bright light” that he let the king’s light dazzle him. Isaiah opens up a prophecy by saying: “When King Uzziah died,then I saw the Lord.” God had to get that old king out of his eye before he ever saw the King of kings or Lord of lords. And you will have to lose sight of some pretty “bright lights” who have some pretty high theory if you are going to get into the sight of the poor Nazarene Who died on the cross—the Son of God.
God’s words says he had guns on the top of the walls of his city that threw stones and arrows; guns made so they would snap and shoot a stone. There wasn’t any gunpowder, but he had something to spring them. Oh, he was a mighty fellow. And the Bible says the Lord strengthened him while he was going good. God will help any man that goes His way, but if you get stuck on yourself and get out of God’s appointed way you will get into trouble as sure as you live. But God says that when Uzziah was strong “his heart was lifted up to his destruction.”
What Was His Sin?
What was his sin? Was he a vile fellow, and God put him down because of awful sin in his life—a bunch of women around the throne? No. Because he was a boozefighter? No. Why did God destroy this fellow? For the same reason He destroyed the folks I have been talking of back there in Moses’ time. He got so stuck on himself, with everything else that was under his keeping, that he didn’t want even the priest to do anything he couldn’t do, so he forces himself into the priest’s office. Listen: Because a man was king was no sign God allowed him to enter into the priest’s office. You may be a king in some shape, but Jesus alone can enter into God’s presence for you, and it will take His death to save you.
And Uzziah says: “you aren’t going to get me, the king, to knuckle to any little old priest. I will jump into that sanctuary and I will make an offering. I will show you whether I can offer incense to God or not.”
The Way To God Protected
The priests plead with him and warned him to keep his place.
There are people who talk about the horrors of this Bible. They would say: “Look how the king was destroyed. Do you call that God?” Listen: If you look back at these things that you think are bloody and horrible you will see that God is always protecting with all His power that very vital plan of salvation He is going to offer to humanity. He is protecting the cross of Jesus Christ to give it unsullied to the world. Jesus is the High Priest appointed by God, and you will come in by Him or by none. God has warned men of all times that the blood could not be trifled with. The Priest handled blood alone, and showed forth the coming of our great High Priest, Jesus Christ.
Now Uzziah thought he could set the priest aside. You cannot set Jesus aside. You can’t say that because somebody you knew was a hypocrite that you won’t be a Christian. That hasn’t anything to do with it. What will you do with the Christ who died on Calvary and is now at the right hand of God? You cannot set Him aside and say in your own foolhardy way, “Well, I’ll take my chances.”
Listen: While Uzziah stood there arguing with these men the priest happened to take a look at him, and leprosy—the type of horrible sin—had broken out on his forehead. Why? Because he was trying to substitute his own bright idea of what he was against God’s appointed plan and God’s appointed ministry. My friend, the leprosy of sin is breaking out today in a spot it never broke out in before. It used to break out in men’s bodies, but in our day, with our universities and schools, and knowledge increasing, and science on the rampage against God’s revelation and salvation, leprosy has broken out in the head.
“Uzziah” is the name written across our age. Professors and teachers are stepping in and setting the cross aside and saying there is a divine spark, and that you will get through all right with a little culture and a little refinement. God pity the Uzziahs of our day!
Saul A Bright Light
Here’s another “bright light”: Look at Saul—great, big, fine Saul, head and shoulders above every other man, chosen king by the people; a great “bright light”; another one who got the idea that his own judgment and high position made him fit to stand before God on his own merits. Samuel, here, was God’s appointed man, and Saul sets him aside by refusing to wait for him to come and offer a burnt offering.
Saul said something like this: “I tell you, I’m not going to wait around here for a little puppet like Samuel. I am the king. I have waited long enough for him to offer the sacrifice for the people. The king is above a prophet and a priest. The people are roaring and howling, and I’m not going to stand here and be a boob and say ‘Samuel will be here after a while.’ I am king, I will do it.” And when Samuel came he said to him: “Samuel, I waited and the people got in a hurry, and I forced myself and offered a burnt offering.”
He Loses His Kingship
Here is Samuel’s recorded answer: “Now thy kingdom shall not continue. The Lord hath sought Him a man after His own heart to be captain over His people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.”
Listen, my friend: God talks about the unpardonable sin. You may have this sin, and that sin, but here is the awful sin of our time: The Holy Ghost is offering Jesus as God’s gift to sinners, and men are refusing to admit that they are sinners, and exalting their own character as a substitute for God’s offer of character and new life in Jesus. Maybe tonight you have trampled under your feet the blood of Jesus, and offered your own offering of reformation and self-control. You take life into your own hands and are going to try forcing your way into eternal life over the broken law of God. You refuse Christ’s work in your behalf and will chance it alone. Saul tried that. “Oh, come back!” he cried. But there is no come back. “Oh, Samuel!” There is no Samuel. “Oh, God!” But the light was shut off.
One more “bright light” and I am through. Here is a woman—Vashti, the queen of Ahasuerus. Somebody says: “What in the world is the story of Esther in the Bible for?” You will find out as you read the book that some of the things that were the most obnoxious to you before you were converted become the most precious afterward. The very things I used to rip out of the book are a joy to me now. Women talk about the horrible things that are in the Bible—so vulgar; and these same women are wearing their skirts up to their knees and their low necks, lollygagging around some well dining room, where they can show off the only thing they have to show—and that is their form, and then make fun of God in His Bible because there is a story in there that tells the awful result of sin.
King Must Be Obeyed
Here is Vashti, the queen. God is not calling your attention to Ahasuerus as though he were perfect. God is only showing you one lesson. What is that? That he was a king and ought to be obeyed. You may think you can sin to suit yourself, think you are getting away with it tonight, but Jesus is King—you are not always going to get away with it. “God is not slack concerning His promise.” Listen: God’s own Word says that “He is not willing that any should perish, but that all might come.” God is letting you get by for a little while, brother, sister, in His mercy. He has waited a long while and put up with sin that He might save more. If you think you have been lucky and gotten by, remember your sins will find you out, and God knows right where you are.
God wants to see that the king’s mandate must be obeyed. The queen is under the king, and she must obey him. Ahasuerus had a supper for his lords—a very fine supper, with some mighty fine features to it. There were a lot of folks in there, too, who could never give him a supper back again. “Now,” he says, “I want to show you my queen. I want to show you her beauty; the crown I have given her.” Say, that is all Jesus has to show off—what He can show off in you. We are His queen.
Substitutes Her Own Way
You were made for Him, and by Him, so that He could show off what He could do in humanity. When you refuse to allow Jesus to enter your heart it is an insult to Jesus Christ the King. The king commanded Vashti to dress in her beauty and put on her crown and appear at his banquet. What did she do? She stuck up her nose and told him she wouldn’t come. Why? She had a little banquet where she was showing off herself. She had run a counter banquet for women, and when the king ordered her to come from that banquet to his own she wouldn’t come.
Why won’t you come when Jesus calls you tonight? You have a little banquet where you are showing off yourself? You have your little business you are running to suit yourself. You have your little pet sins, and the stuff you love, and you won’t mind him tonight because you know what you will have to give up. You won’t let Him put the crown upon you and show off His beauty out of your life, but you want to bask in the sunshine of your own character and slick yourself up and play king yourself.
Can’t Get By
Vashti seemingly got by, for she ran her own banquet; but the Book says she never again came into the presence of Ahasuerus. She was never queen again from that night. Why? The king’s appointment was the one to accept; she had another. An awful trade—one banquet for a life as queen.
Now you see the meaning of my text. These men rose up against Moses—against God’s plan; so did these others we have looked at; and so do some of you tonight; and when I ask you to walk down that aisle and take Jesus as your Savior, oh, it would be awful for you to humble yourself. But Jesus could throw Himself on His face and sweat drops of blood in Gethsemane for you; go to the cross with the scoff and the scourging, that He might give you eternal life. You have a chance to know God forever—“This is eternal life, that they might know Him, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent.” Do you know Him? Is He your Savior? God has sent Him. Answer God tonight.
Take God’s Way!
I know what some of you young fellows are up against tonight. I know it is hard sledding; but listen, fellows: Jesus Christ will give you the victory. I know the little banquet you are holding, men; but let me tell you something: Jesus will never see you go without anything that is good for you.
What man would write the story of Uzziah? What man would write the story of Vashti? Every man would say: “Saul would get by on his bigness”; “Uzziah would get by on his kingly power”; “Vashti would get by on her beauty”; “The 250 would get by on their reputation as men of renown.”
No. Square away now and look the “bright lights” in the face:
The 250 consumed by fire.
Vashti banished from the presence of the king—no more to be queen.
Uzziah dies the horrible death with leprosy.
Saul falls on his sword and commits suicide.
They all rose up against God’s appointed way, and the “bright lights” went out.
Will you rise up against God’s appointed way—Jesus crucified and risen?
Come and accept Him.