10 March 2015

BSF 2014-2015: Numbers 21

As the Israelites travel to the Promised Land, they are caught off guard and are captured by the Canaanites. In their distress, they cry out to God, asking Him to deliver the Canaanites to them. God agrees, and the Israelites destroy the Canaanites and their towns.

They make a special vow to God (like they have done in the past), but God does not bring up their past sins and failures. He meets them in their present faith.

After this victory, the Israelites have a failure. They grow impatient. They again complain about a lack of food and water. They speak against God and Moses. As a punishment, God sends venomous snakes. The Israelites ask Moses to pray to God and ask Him to remove the snakes.

God instructs Moses to craft a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Anyone who is bitten and looks at the bronze snake is healed. The people demonstrate their faith in God’s word by looking at the snake. There are several ways we can apply the bronze snake to our own lives:

  • No one could look at the snake to heal someone else. Each individual was responsible for taking this step of faith. We cannot take on someone else’s faith.
  • There was only one way for the people to be healed – by looking at the snake. Now there is only one way for people to be saved from their sins – through faith in Jesus.
  • God did not remove the snakes from the Israelites’ camp. God does not remove sin from our world today.
  • Not everyone chose to look on the snake and live. Not everyone today chooses to look to Jesus to save them.

Later Jesus used the bronze snake to describe Himself. Just as the bronze snake was lifted up on a pole to heal the Israelites, Jesus was lifted up on a cross to heal all people of their sins.

The Israelites continue to move. They send a messenger to King Sihon of the Amorites, requesting that they pass through his land. The king attacks the Israelites. God allows the Israelites to defeat the Amorites and take their land, one of the first pieces of the Promised Land that the Israelites own.

King Og provokes the Israelites to battle. God promises to deliver the king, his people and his land to the Israelites. The Israelites defeat the king and obtain his land.

Things to Think About

  • Where do I need God to fight for me?
  • Do I focus on my past failures instead of my present faith? In which circumstance do I need to walk in my current faith instead of my past failure?
  • How do I react when people provoke me to battle? Do I seek the Lord or fight in my own strength?
  • Seeking, trusting and obeying God is the sure pattern for victory. The sure pattern for sin is not seeking, not trusting and not obeying God.
  • Victory is possible even after frequent failure.