Read Numbers 21 -- 22
In Today's Reading:
Fiery serpents; brass serpent; 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 soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spoke against God, and against Moses, Wherefore (why) have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loathes (detests) this light bread (Numbers 21:4-5). At this point, the LORD sent fiery serpents . . . and many people of Israel died (21:6). When the people repented, Moses prayed for the people (21:7).
The response to Moses' prayer was immediate. The LORD said to Moses, Make . . . a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looks upon it, shall live (21:8). The brass serpent was a symbol both of God's judgment against their sin and of His mercy and love for all who repent and obey Him.
Many centuries later, Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. . . . (said to Jesus) we know that You are a teacher come from God (John 3:1-2). In response Jesus said that the serpent 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 then said to Nicodemus: Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God (3:5). Being born of the Spirit 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 (Jesus), was dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). Each of us was born with our parents' human nature; but, when we receive Christ as our Savior, we are "born again" and receive His spiritual nature. As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name (John 1:12).
As children of our Heavenly Father, we are called to let not sin therefore reign (rule) in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts (evil desires) thereof. . . . but yield yourselves to God (Romans 6:12-13).
21:4 compass = go around; 21:11 toward the sunrising = eastern border; 21:23 suffer = permit; 22:1 this side = east side; 22:4 lick up = consume; devour; 22:5 over against me = in front of; opposite; 22:6 wot = know.
By Moses who was faithful to pray to God for the people (Numbers 21:7). Christ Jesus . . . was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house (Hebrews 3:1-2). Jesus prayed for us (John 17:20).
BP Staff: Dr. John A. Hash · Pray for the 2004 National Bible Reading Movement · for the International Shortwave Radio Broadcast in honor of Linda Kennon · Government Officials: Sen. Jon Corzine (NJ), Rep. Martin Frost (TX), Sen. Ernest Hollings (SC), Gov. Gary Johnson (NM), Gov. Tony Knowles (AK), Rep. Robert Menendez (NJ), and Rep. John Sullivan (OK) · Country: Iraq (22 million) in southern Asia · Major languages: Arabic and Kurdish · Fierce harassment of non-Muslims · 96% Muslim; 3% Christian · Prayer Suggestion: Magnify the Lord; exalt His Name (Psalm 34:3).
Optional Reading: Luke 9
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:11