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Bible Pathways 02/22/2002

  • 2002 Feb 22
  • COMMENTS

February 22

Read Numbers 21 -- 22

In Today's Reading:

Blessings and victories abound in these verses, as the Israelites near their destination. The Christian should read and understand the illustration given by Christ (Numbers 21:4-9) which was revealed by the Lord in His conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:1-16).

Verses for Today:

The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many . . . died. Therefore the people came to Moses and said, we have sinned for we have spoken against the Lord . . . pray . . . that He take away the serpents . . . and Moses prayed. . . . And Moses made a serpent of brass (bronze), 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 21:6-9).

Highlights:

Canaanite King Arad defeated; fiery, poisonous serpents sent by God; bronze serpent provides a way of salvation; King Sihon of the Amorites attacks, but is defeated by Israel; victory over numerous locations of the Amorites and journey to Moab; Israel conquers Og, the Moabite King of Bashan; Balak sends for the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites.

A spirit of discontent prevailed among the Israelites and they bitterly found fault with God, and Moses (Numbers 21:5). Consequently, the marvelous protection of God from the desert dangers was withdrawn. Until this time, there was no record that anyone had been bitten by a serpent. (Note Deuteronomy 8:15.) The Israelites' need for the Lord's protection was realized after thousands of them were bitten by fiery serpents, and the dying Israelites cried out to Moses: 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. And Moses prayed for the people (Numbers 21:7). They deserved to die; but, when they confessed their sin, God provided a brazen serpent which represented the One who would be the subsitute to take their place.

The brazen serpent was made from the same type of material used for the Brazen Altar where the sacrifices were offered. Bronze was symbolic of the judgment of God against sin. All who believed the promise of God's Word and looked to the brazen serpent were healed. For He made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

In the private conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish council, Jesus referred to this historic event and said: Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. . . . 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 (John 3:1). Jesus became our substitute for our sins. Nicodemus could not understand why there was a need to be born again. So the Lord revealed to him the necessity of a spiritual new birth just as He does to everyone today.

Mankind was poisoned by sin which was introduced by that old serpent, called the Devil (Revelation 12:9), and sin's painful bite torments its victims to their spiritual death. Salvation is within the reach of all who respond to Jesus Who was lifted up for our sins. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romas 5:10).

A Thought from Psalms: Lead me in Your Truth, and teach me: for You are the God of my salvation; on You do I wait all the day (25:5).

Christ Portrayed:

By Moses the intercessor (Numbers 21:7). Christ always lives to make intercession for us (see Hebrews 7:25).

Word Studies:

21:4 compass = go around; 21:5 loatheth = detest; 21:11 toward the sunrising = eastern border; 21:23 suffer = permit; 22:1 this side = east side; 22:3 sore = exceedingly; 22:4 lick up = consume; devour; 22:5 over against me = in front of; opposite; 22:6 wot = know; 22:7 rewards of divination = payment for his predictions; 22:30 wont = accustomed; in the habit of.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Sen. William Frist (TN) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (MA) · Pray for one more person to read through the Bible · Country: Switzerland (7 million) in central Europe · Major languages: German and French · Religious freedom · 53% Roman Catholic; 41% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Thank God for His mercy to cleanse from all sins (Psalms 51:2).

Optional Reading: Luke 9

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:10

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