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Numbers 21

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Israel began its trip to Canaan from Kadesh. A raiding party from the Canaanite king of Arad took some prisoners. Israel vowed to God to annihilate them if God would deliver the prisoners, which occurred.

The trip around Edom was long and arduous, and people became discouraged. As is fallen human nature, they were discontent with God’s provisions and accused God and Moses of wrongdoing. Consequently, God judged them with death by the bites of fiery serpents (the idea of “fiery” is poisonous, venomous). Israel sought God for mercy, so the Lord instructed Moses to make an image of a serpent and lift it on a pole. Whoever was bitten would be cured by trusting the Lord’s Word and looking at the serpent.

As Israel traveled around Edom the Lord provided water from the well at Beer.

Coming up on the east side of the Dead Sea they came to the northern border of Moab and asked permission from that region’s king, Sihon, to pass through. Sihon was a powerful King, having conquered the Moabites (vv. 26-29). He refused Israel’s request and attacked them, no doubt viewing them as easy prey. God, however, enabled Israel to destroy Sihon’s forces (“laid waste,” v. 30) and Israel took possession of the capital city of hashem.

This event was repeated as Israel went north into the territory of Og. Deuteronomy 3:3-5 relates that Og’s kingdom consisted of 60 well fortified and defended cities, yet they were entirely wiped out by Israel.

  1. Sin controlled, unbelieving hearts respond to difficulties with discouragement, manifested by discontent with God’s provisions, even defaming God himself. The end of such disbelief in and defamation of God is death.
  2. Stricken Israelites were not saved by the bronze serpent, nor by believing in the bronze serpent, but by faith that God would heal them. Similarly, sinners are saved by looking to—believing in—Christ crucified (John 3:14-15). In contrast to the bronze serpent event, however, sinners must believe in Christ crucified.
  3. The cause of the Lord is never thwarted by unbelievers, but he will not bear with unbelief. “God is not restrained to save by many or by few,” (1 Sam 14:6).
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