KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (Numbers 21:9)
By this time, the Children of Israel had wandered in the wilderness for almost twenty years. As recorded in the previous chapter, Aaron had died and his son Eleazar had become the high priest.
When King Arad in the southern part of Canaan heard that the Israelites were nearby, his army attacked them and took some as prisoners. God gave Israel victory in the ensuing battle and the Israelites destroyed them and their cities completely. This was Israel’s first victory in twenty years; their vow of faith to God (verse 2) was the key to their success.
The Children of Israel continued their journey through the wilderness and again they became weary and discouraged. They complained to Moses, chiding him for delivering them from Egypt and grumbling about the manna and scarcity of water. God was angry with the unthankful spirit of the people and He sent venomous snakes that caused many of the Israelites to perish from their poisonous bites.
One of the most striking illustrations of God’s redemptive plan lies in the brass serpent that God instructed Moses to lift up on a pole in the midst of the camp. Anyone who was bitten by a snake needed only to look at the brass serpent and he would be healed — foreshadowing the time when one “look” at Christ, who was lifted up on Calvary, would bring healing from sin’s curse.
After this momentous occurrence, the Children of Israel continued their journey, traveling from place to place. When Israel approached the land of the Amorites, they sent a message to Sihon the king, asking permission to pass through and assuring him they would disturb nothing along the way. Permission was denied. Instead, Sihon gathered his army together to fight against Israel. The Israelites won the victory and gained many cities and much land. Thus they were able to dwell in the land of the Amorites, which was on the east side of the River Jordan.
After this, Og, the king of Bashan, and his army attacked Israel, but again Israel won the victory and acquired their land.
God will turn His back on those who are rebellious and bitter toward Him. Yet God will bless those who trust and obey Him with a thankful heart.