Read Numbers 21 -- 22
In Today 's Reading:
Poisonous snakes; bronze snake; Israel defeats King Arad, Amorites, Moabites; Balaam hired to curse the Israelites
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. The people became impatient on the way. . . . (and) complained . . . Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this wilderness? There is no bread and no water. We loathe this miserable food! (Numbers 21:4-5). At this point, the LORD sent poisonous snakes. . . . And many Israelites died (21:6). Moses interceded for the people (21:7).
The response to Moses' prayer was immediate. The LORD told Moses, Make for yourself a poisonous snake (of bronze) and mount it on a pole. Anyone who was bitten may look at it and live (21:8).The bronze snake 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, a ruler of the Jews (John 3:1-21), Jesus said that the snake 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 (3:14; 12:32). Jesus did not tell Nicodemus how he should live to have eternal life, rather He told him how to be made alive. Jesus replied to Nicodemus: I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (3:5). This is far more than changing one's way of life, giving up bad habits, or turning over a new leaf. All mankind, with one exception, was dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). Each of us was born with our parents' human nature and, when we receive Christ as our Savior, we are "born again" and receive His spiritual nature: To all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).
As children of our heavenly Father, we are reminded: Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. . . . But . . . offer yourselves to God (Romans 6:12-13).
By Moses who was faithful to pray to God for the people (Numbers 21:7). Jesus . . . was faithful to the One who appointed Him, just as Moses was in all God's household (Hebrews 3:1-2).
Government Officials: Sen. William Frist (TN) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (MA) · Country: Russia (150 million) northeastern Europe and northern Asia · Major language: Russian · Religious freedom · 55% Russian/Armenian/Georgian/Old Believers Orthodox; 9% Muslim; .8% shamanist/animist; .7% Protestant; .6% Buddhist; .5% Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Pray and thank God for all His blessings (Psalms 68:19).
Optional Reading: Luke 9
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:10