Some time ago, a teenager, Arthur Hinkley, lifted a 3,000-pound tractor with his bare hands. He wasn’t a weight lifter, but his friend, Lloyd Bachelder, 18, was pinned under a tractor on a farm near Rome, Maine. Hearing Lloyd scream, Arthur somehow lifted the tractor enough for L … More
ALife often becomes like a gymnasium or a battlefield (II Tim. 2:1-5), where we must exercise our faith and develop strong spiritual muscles for running the race of life. This truth is well illustrated in this chapter where God’s care and discipline of His people is so evident. The Jews had just completed their mourning over Aaron’s death (20:28) and the priestly clothing was removed from Aaron and placed on his son Eleazar. Now the Israelites were facing their first battle with the Canaanites who had captured some of the Israelites. The Israelites vowed to destroy the Canaanites and their cities if the Lord would give them victory. Keep in mind that the Canaanite culture was unspeakably wicked, especially their religious practices, and God wanted these nations removed from the earth.
The Israelites were discouraged because of the route taken around Edom (v. 4). They spoke out against Moses and God by doubting God’s deliverance. They began to think that they had been led into the wilderness to die instead of holding to the promise of the “Promised Land,” denying God’s ability they focused on the lack of bread and water and not on the awesome power of God to provide such things. Despising God’s provision of the manna and the quail, they hated what God had given to sustain them (v. 5). Because of their complaining and speaking against Moses, God sent “fiery serpents” (poisonous snakes) to punish the people for their unbelief and complaining. Both the Israelites and Egyptians had a great fear of snakes (vv. 6-9). A bite by a poisonous snake often meant a slow death. God provided a way for them to turn from the curse of death and look to the bronze serpent – look to God instead of their reality – and then they were healed.
We have been stung by sin and are under the curse of death. It is in this condition of sin that I must approach the empty tomb of Jesus. Just as the uplifted serpent was the only cure in the camp, Jesus Christ is the only Savior for sinners in this world (John 14:6).
When the Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the Negeb, heard that Israel was coming by the way of Atharim, he fought against Israel, and took some of them captive. And Israel vowed a vow to the LORD and said, "If you will indeed give this people into my hand, then I will devote their cities to destruction." And the LORD heeded the voice of Israel and gave over the Canaanites, and they devoted them and their cities to destruction. So the name of the place was called Hormah. From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food." Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, "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." So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
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Numbers 18:1-19God held Aaron and his sons responsible for the tabernacle ministry
Numbers 18:20-32Servants of the Lord deserve to be supported by His people
Numbers 19:1-22The ashes of a heifer used to purify the unclean
Numbers 20:1-29Death and failure
Numbers 21:1-9A serpent problem solved.
Numbers 21:10-35From Mount Hor to Moab.
Numbers 22:1-21Balak sends for Balaam
Numbers 22:22-41The angel and Balaam’s donkey.
Numbers 23:1-30The prophecies of Balaam.
Numbers 24:1-25Balaam foretells the happiness of Israel