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The Book of Numbers 0004 - Lesson 4

Scripture Passage: 
Numbers 21:1-9

Chapter 21

War From Without and From Within

  1. DIVISION OF THE CHAPTER
    1. War with the Canaanites (Numbers 21:1-3)
    2. The Judgment of the Fiery Serpents (Numbers 21:4-9)
    3. The Continued Journey of the Israelites (Numbers 21:10-16)
    4. Water from the Well (Numbers 21:16-18)
    5. The Continued Journey of the Israelites (Numbers 21:18-20)
    6. War with the Amorites (Numbers 21:21-31)
    7. War with the Bashanites (Numbers 21:32-35)
  2. WAR WITH THE CANAANITES (Numbers 21:1-3)
    1. Attack from King Arad (Numbers 21:1)
      1. The Israelites went by the way of the spies.
      2. King Arad fought against them.
      3. Some Israelites were taken prisoners.
    2. The Vow of the Israelites (Numbers 21:2)
      1. If the Lord will deliver the people into their hand
      2. They would destroy their cities.
    3. The Lord Delivers (Numbers 21:3).
      1. The Lord delivered up the Canaanites.
      2. They destroyed the cities.
      3. The Lord called the place Hormah.
  3. THE JUDGMENT OF THE FIERY SERPENTS (Numbers 21:4-9)
    1. The Problem of the People (Numbers 21:4-5)
      1. The path
        1. They journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea to compass the land of Edom.
        2. The soul of the people was much discouraged.
        3. Practical application:  We have a direction in mind that we believe the Lord ought to lead us.  God does not always follow our plans and often leads us in ways we would not choose and we too become discouraged because of the way.  We must not only turn our destination over to the Lord, but we must also turn our “way” over to the Lord.
      2. The persons
        1. They spake against God.
        2. They spake against the man of God – Moses.
        3. Practical application:  Most of our anger in this life is aimed at one person.  We would never admit it, but it is a fact.  When we are angry, we are angry with God.  Oftentimes we direct this toward the man of God over us but it is ultimately a problem we have with God.
      3. The provision
        1. No bread
        2. No water
        3. Our soul loatheth this light bread.
        4. Practical application:  We believe we deserve good things from this life.  We deserve to always have the necessary funds to pay our bills.  We deserve to have our cabinets full.  We deserve to be able to have some of the finer things this world has to offer.  The fact is we do not deserve anything.  Those things that the Lord supplies for us are the best things we can have and these things ought to satisfy us.
        5. No bread vs. light bread
          1. Consider that the Israelites claimed to have no bread.  This is the statement of modern Christians, theologians and scholars.  They would say to you that the bread of God (His word) is not available to us today.  It is found in the originals and the originals are nowhere to be found.
          2. Consider also that the Israelites claimed to loath the light bread.  Sounds like there was actually bread available but they detested the bread that the Lord provided.  No version on this planet bears the hatred as does the King James Bible.  They loath it as light bread that doesn’t meet the needs of the people.  The Israelites detested the bread from God and constantly longed for the food from Egypt.  So it is today.  The modern versions come from Egyptian manuscripts and people would rather get their food from Egypt than from heaven.
    2. The Judgment from the Lord (Numbers 21:6)
      1. The Lord sent fiery serpents.
      2. They bit the people.
      3. Much people died.
    3. The Plea of the People (Numbers 21:7)
      1. The people came to Moses.
      2. The people recognized their sin.
      3. The people asked Moses to pray for their deliverance.
    4. The Remedy from the Lord (Numbers 21:8-9)
      1. The directions for the remedy (Numbers 21:8)
        1. Make a fiery serpent.
        2. Set it upon a pole.
        3. Every one that looks upon it shall live.
      2. The performance of the instructions (Numbers 21:9)
      3. The worship of the brazen serpent (2 Kings 18:4)
        1. The serpent began to be worshipped.
        2. King Hezekiah broke it in pieces.
        3. The children of Israel burnt incense unto it.
        4. Hezekiah called it Nehushtan , which means the brazen thing or the thing of brass.
    5. The Picture Presented (Numbers 21:6-9; John 3:14-15)
      1. Sin pictured (Numbers 21:6)
        1. The serpents represented sin.
          1. Sin entered the garden when the serpent deceived Eve (Genesis 3:1-6).
          2. The curse of the serpent is never said to have been removed (Genesis 3:14; Isaiah 65:25) just as the curse of sin will send a soul to the lake of fire for eternity if they do not trust Christ.
          3. The fiery or brazen appearance symbolizes judgment.
        2. The serpents were not selective in their biting (Romans 3:23).
        3. The end effect of the serpent’s bite was death (Romans 6:23).
      2. Salvation pictured (Numbers 21:7-8)
        1. Repentance (Numbers 21:7)
          1. The Israelites recognized their fallen condition.
          2. They declared that they had sinned against God and against Moses.
          3. The judgment of God had awakened their conscience to their sin.
          4. Notice that this alone did not remove the curse from the snake bite.
        2. Faith (Numbers 21:8; Isaiah 45:22; John 1:29)
          1. Once the Israelites recognized their fallen condition, they still had to take God at His word and behold the serpent on the pole.
          2. Repentance was not enough.  Faith was also required (Acts 20:21).
          3. This had nothing to do with works.  It was based on their willingness to believe God’s word.  The upward look at the serpent was an outward recognition of their own helplessness.
      3. The Saviour pictured
        1. The method
          1. The serpent was to be placed upon a pole and lifted up.
          2. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of his death and said that He must be lifted up (John 3:14-15; John 12:32-33).
        2. The serpent
          1. A special serpent
            1. Moses had to make this serpent out of brass.
            2. The Lord did not tell him to take one of the other serpents and put it upon a pole.
            3. The whole purpose of this serpent was to be put upon a pole so those who believed God’s word would look to it.
            4. The Lord could not redeem man with a normal man.  It took pure blood.  It had to be His own blood (Acts 20:28).
            5. The Lord’s purpose for coming was to seek and to save that which was lost because of the curse of sin (Luke 19:10).
          2. The significance of the brass
            1. The serpent was supposed to be made of brass.
            2. The brass symbolized judgment.
            3. Jesus Christ took the wrath of God on the cross and if we look to Him we escape that wrath (Romans 8:32).
          3. The significance of a serpent
            1. The serpent is a picture of sin.  On the cross we find the scriptures declaring that Jesus Christ became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).
            2. The serpent is a picture of a curse.  Jesus Christ became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).
            3. The serpent was like the other serpents but it was of a different material.  Jesus Christ was made like unto man, but without sin (Romans 8:3).
            4. The sting of death came upon all because of a serpent.  In like manner redemption came through the brazen serpent.  So sin entered by one man Adam and death passed upon all, but the last Adam provides life for all (Romans 5:19).
            5. The Son of God as a serpent
              1. Some people teach that the Son of God became a serpent on the cross.
              2. Even if He did not become a serpent on the cross, He no doubt looked like a serpent on the cross.
              3. Consider the following verses: (Psalm 22:1-6; Isaiah 52:14).
            6. Eternal judgment as a serpent
              1. When we step into eternity we shall be like Christ (1 John 3:2).
              2. It is possible that those who are lost will take on the identity of the serpent.
              3. Consider these verses: (Mark 9:44, 46, 48).
Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 17:13

Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.