Numbers 21 -- 22
After 38 wasted years living in the desert, the Israelites were near their last encampment and would soon cross the Jordan River to enter into the Promised Land. Some of these people were children when, with their parents, they had left Egypt; others had been born in the wilderness. They journeyed from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spoke against God, and against Moses, (saying) Wherefore have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? (Numbers 21:4-5). At this point, the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died (21:6) .
The serpents may have been called fiery because of the burning, tormenting pain caused by their bites. The people soon repented and confessed to Moses: We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against you; pray to the Lord (21:7).
The response to Moses' prayer was immediate. The Lord said to Moses, Make a fiery serpent (of brass), and set it upon a pole: and . . . every one that is bitten, when he looks upon it, shall live (21:8). The brazen serpent was a symbol both of God's judgment against their sin and of His mercy and love for all who repented and truly believed in Him.
Many centuries later, in His conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21; 12:32), Jesus said that the serpent of brass which had been lifted up by Moses in the wilderness illustrated Himself as the One to be lifted up on the cross as the only way for sinners to be saved from eternal death. Nicodemus was a very strict religious man and a ruler of the Jews (3:1). Jesus did not tell him how he should live to have eternal life, rather He told him how to be made alive, saying: Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God (3:3). The necessity of the new birth can be seen in that Jesus again said to Nicodemus: Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God (3:5). Having inherited Adam's sin nature, the natural man is altogether devoid of spiritual life. It is far more than changing one's way of life, giving up bad habits or turning over a new leaf. All mankind, without one exception, is dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) -- and without spiritual life. Each of us was born with our parents' human nature, and, when we receive Christ as our Savior, we are "born again," receive His spiritual nature, and become the sons of God (John 1:12).
We are empowered with His indwelling God nature to walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the Law of sin and of death (Romans 8:1-2).
God knew we could not keep His Law, but the trouble is that we did not know it. When we are convinced that we cannot keep the Law, then the Law has served Its purpose. It has been our Schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that He might keep It in us (Galatians 3:24).
As children of our Heavenly Father, we are reminded: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey the lusts thereof. . . . But present yourselves to God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God (Romans 6:12-13).
By Moses who was faithful to pray for the people. Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house (Heb. 3:1-2).
21:4 compass means go around; 21:11 toward the sunrising means eastern border; 21:23 suffer means permit; 22:1 this side means east side; 22:4 lick up means consume; devour; 22:5 over against me means in front of; opposite; 22:6 wot means know.
Government Officials: Sen. William Frist (TN) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (MA) · BPM Staff: Mark Ketterer · Pray for L.A.C.I. (Loving All Children Individually) Foundation and Charlotte Ketterer, Founder · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast sponsored by Thursday Morning Prayer Group · Country: Uzbekistan (24 million) central Asia · Major languages: Uzbek and Russian · Limited religious freedom due to Islamic influence · 68% Muslim; 4% Russian Orthodox; .5% Protestant/Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Call to the Lord for help; He will save you out of your troubles (Psalms 34:17).
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