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Bible Pathways - Feb. 22, 2007



Numbers 21 

In Today's Scripture 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 them had been 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 spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore (Why) have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth (detests) this light bread (manna) (Numbers 21:4-5). At this point, the Lord sent fiery serpents . . . and much people of Israel died (21:6). When they repented, Moses prayed for the people (21:7).

The response to Moses' prayer was immediate. The Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live (21:8). The brass serpent was a symbol both of God's judgment against their sin and of His loving mercy for all those who repented; like the cross, the brass serpent was for all but effective only for those who 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 serpent which had been lifted up by Moses in the wilderness illustrated Himself as the One who would be lifted up on the cross as the only way for sinners to be saved from eternal death (3:14; also 12:32-33). 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: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God (3:5). Being born again is far more than just changing one's way of life, giving up bad habits, or turning over a new leaf. All mankind, with the 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 reminded: Let not sin therefore reign (rule) in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts (evil desires) thereof. . . . but yield yourselves unto God (Romans 6:12-13).

Word Studies:

21:4 compass =b> go around; 21:11 toward the sunrising =b> eastern border; 21:23 suffer =b> permit; 22:1 this side =b> eastern side; 22:4 lick up =b> defeat in battle, consume; 22:5 over against =b> in front of; opposite; 22:6 wot =b> know.

Christ Portrayed:

By Moses who was faithful to pray to God for the people (Numbers 21:7). Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house (family, i.e. the Israelites) (Hebrews 3:1-2).

Prayer Needs:

Pray for The English International Shortwave Radio Broadcast sponsored by William H. Lupton Staff: Rita Guerra Government Officials: Sen. Bill Frist (TN) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (MA) Country: Ghana (19 million) in western Africa Major languages: English and African languages The government permits freedom to churches and missionaries that do not get involved in politics 31% belief in spirits and witches; 22% Protestant; 17% Muslim; 11% Roman Catholic Prayer Suggestion: Pray and rejoice in the Lord for all His spiritual blessings (Isaiah 61:10).

Optional Reading: Luke 9

Memory Verse for the Week: II Timothy 3:16

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