Numbers 21:1

 

The Bible says in Numbers 21:1-3, “And when king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners.[2] And Israel vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities.[3] And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.” The Canaanites were the aggressors. And this time the children of Israel did the right thing: verse two tells us that they went to the Lord in prayer and asked God to “deliver this people” into the hands of the Israelites. God determines who wins in any contest. God determines which people take control of which pieces of real estate. Do not fight against God. Surrender to God’s will. The Israelites were already told many times that it was God’s will for them to take the land of Canaan away from the Canaanites. God had given that land to the Canaanites for hundreds years, but evidently because of the heathenism and debauchery and violence, God decided to take it away and give the land to the Israelites. Remember that God said to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:[2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:[3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” This promise is repeated many to time to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to all of the children of Israel. For example, God also said to Abraham in Genesis 15:7, “And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it 

 

The Bible says in Numbers 21:4-9, “And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.[5] And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.[6] And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.[7] Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.[8] And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.[9] 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.” The Israelites had a difficult journey of forty years through the wilderness. Life can be hard, but the goal is to react the right way to the hardships by trusting in the Lord and learning any lessons that He wants us to learn. Verse four says that “the people was much discouraged because of the way.” How can we keep from getting discouraged when the way gets hard? For one thing we must continue to trust in the Lord and know that He had a purpose for all things. For another thing we need to know ahead of time that life can be difficult and that things are not always going to go well. Jesus reminded us of this when He said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Every problem has a solution. Every difficulty will pass. The Lord is able.

 

In verse five the people went from being discouraged to speaking against God and against Moses. Of course, this is the worse reaction possible to blame God and to blame God’s chosen leader. Unfortunately, it is not that uncommon. Many people have blamed God for some sorrow or disaster that comes into their life. It says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and to them that are the called according to His purpose.” God has a purpose and if we really believe and trust Him, then we will have confidence that He knows best. God can comfort us in any trouble.

 

If you are a believer in Jesus and you have the wrong attitude against God, the Lord will chastise you because He wants to straighten you up so that you can grow in Christ. It says in Hebrews 12:6, “Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourges every son whom he receiveth.” You can avoid this king od correction from the Lord if you confess your sins immediately. It says in First Corinthians 11:31-32, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.[32] But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world

 

The Israelites lived under the law and thus the punishments were swift and severe. It says in verse six, “And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.” But once the people suffered, they immediately turned to the Lord and said in verse seven, “We have sinned.” God knows how to wake people up. He does it all the time. One of the reasons that bad things happen to people is so that they will turn to the Lord Jesus. Many people will not turn to Him as long as things are going well. Many people are praying that we would have a revival in our country, but in order to get a revival it might require that something really terrible happen first.

 

God did something to save the people of Israel. It says in verse eight, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” This event has a tremendous symbolism to the death of Jesus on the cross. The pole is the cross. The serpent is Jesus because when Jesus died on the cross, Jesus became sin for us and Jesus took the wrath of God on Himself. How did the people get saved? They simply looked to the serpent on the pole. There were no good works for them to do because they had already sinned. Look to Jesus and live.

 

The Bible says in Numbers 21:10-20, “And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in Oboth.[11] And they journeyed from Oboth, and pitched at Ije-abarim, in the wilderness which is before Moab, toward the sunrising.[12] From thence they removed, and pitched in the valley of Zared.[13] From thence they removed, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, which is in the wilderness that cometh out of the coasts of the Amorites: for Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites.[14] Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the LORD, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon,[15] And at the stream of the brooks that goeth down to the dwelling of Ar, and lieth upon the border of Moab.[16] And from thence they went to Beer: that is the well whereof the LORD spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water.[17] Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it:[18] The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves. And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah:[19] And from Mattanah to Nahaliel: and from Nahaliel to Bamoth:[20] And from Bamoth in the valley, that is in the country of Moab, to the top of Pisgah, which looketh toward Jeshimon.” These verses mention many different places that the children of Israel travelled to. They travelled a lot. They were constantly traveling in the wilderness. That is a good picture of this life. People are constantly on the move. We change homes, we change schools, we change jobs. We even move from one country to another. Even when we are in the same home and the same community, we spend a lot of time travelling from one store to another, to the doctor, or other places of business. And then when some people retire, they travel even more. What is the final destination of all this travelling? If you know Jesus as Savior, the final destination is heaven, and how wonderful it will be. Finally, we will be satisfied.

 

One of the benefits of being a believer in the Lord is that while we continue our journey on this earth, God takes care of us and supplies our material needs. Jesus promised in Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” God gave water to the Israelites, and because of that, it says in verse 17, “Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it.” They were thankful. We should also be thankful for the basic necessities of life, and not take them for granted. God sustains us by His grace. He watches over us and those whom we love. God supplies, but there are still things for us to do. There is a spiritual side to life, but also a practical side. God gave them water, but verse eighteen says, “The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver.” God supplies, but He supplies through our work.

 

The Bible says in Numbers 21:21-31, “And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying,[22] Let me pass through thy land: we will not turn into the fields, or into the vineyards; we will not drink of the waters of the well: but we will go along by the king's high way, until we be past thy borders.[23] And Sihon would not suffer Israel to pass through his border: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness: and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel.[24] And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was strong.[25] And Israel took all these cities: and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all the villages thereof.[26] For Heshbon was the city of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and taken all his land out of his hand, even unto Arnon.[27] Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared:[28] For there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon: it hath consumed Ar of Moab, and the lords of the high places of Arnon.[29] Woe to thee, Moab! thou art undone, O people of Chemosh: he hath given his sons that escaped, and his daughters, into captivity unto Sihon king of the Amorites.[30] We have shot at them; Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon, and we have laid them waste even unto Nophah, which reacheth unto Medeba.[31] Thus Israel dwelt in the land of the Amorites.” The children of Israel were doing God’s will. People who did not believe in the Lord opposed God’s children. It has always been like that. Notice that the unbelievers were the aggressors. It was Sihon who “went out against Israel into the wilderness: and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel.” Jesus never wants His children to be aggressors. Jesus goes even further and tells us to love our enemies. But here is an important point to make: Jesus was talking about personal relationships. The children of Israel were a nation. A nation has a right to defend itself, and a nation had better be ready to defend itself in a world where others may very well be the aggressor. Where was Israel going? They were going where God told them to go and where God led them. Therefore, we are not surprised at the result of the conflict in verse twenty-four: “And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon…” If you do what the Lord Jesus wants you to do, He will give you victory. It says in First John 5:4, “…this is the victory that overcomes the world: even our faith

 

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Copyright; 2019 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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