1 Lk Upn Jesus - Numbers 21 Easter is that Sunday after the Jewish Passver when we remember that a Man came back t life after spending three days in the grave His name was Jesus f Nazareth, and He declared He was the nly Sn f Gd He als said that His death wuld be a payment fr ur sin, and that ur willingness t accept that payment wuld be all that was necessary t enter an eternity with Gd Jesus He said that the prf fr His claims wuld culd three days after he died He wuld be resurrected t prve He was Gd and that His wrds were trustwrthy When it happened as He said, many witnesses testified t the event And these testimnies alng with many supernatural signs and miracles cnfirmed the truth f Jesus statements S fr tw thusand years thse wh have believed this testimny have set aside ne Sunday a year t remember Easter Abut 1,400 years befre Jesus was brn, an event tk place in the deserts f the Middle East that als prved the truth f what Jesus said cncerning His death It s a stry yu may never have studied And I m fairly certain yu haven t studied it n an Easter Sunday S turn with me t the bk f Numbers During the years after Mses led the Israelites ut f Egypt, they endured a difficult perid They rebelled against the Lrd in the first mnths after the Exdus And after testing the Lrd ne t many times, He declared the adult generatin wuldn t enter int the land Instead they were cndemned t remain in the desert until they died 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
2 Numbers 21! 2 Only their children were ging t live lng enugh t enter And that wuld take 40 years f wandering in the desert The bk f Numbers is a recrd f that perid f wandering In that bk, there s an interesting accunt f ne day near the very end f the Jews wandering On this day, the Israelites are back t their usual ways f grumbling and rebelling against Gd They sin cntinually, rejecting bth Gd and the leaders appinted by Gd, namely Mses and Aarn And Gd decides t bring a judgment against the peple t teach them (and us ) an imprtant lessn The stry is fund in Numbers 21 At this pint in the bk, Israel has already been wandering fr 40 years and their time in the desert is cming t an end Aarn is als dead, as is Mses wife Marin Mses himself is nearing the end f his life as well Nw the peple f Gd are mving nrthward thrugh a sandy valley that cnnects the Red Sea in the suth with the Dead Sea in the nrth They re n the last leg f their wanderings Sn will be the Prmised Land under the leadership f Jshua But first, they must walk ver 165 miles thrugh this wilderness The rute was dry with steep muntains brdering n either side It had drifts f granite and ther stnes, and terrible sand strms will appear ut f nwhere It s the kind f miserable trek likely t make anyne grumpy But fr the Israelites, it triggers an ld weakness 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
3 Numbers 21! 3 Num. 21:4 Then they set ut frm Munt Hr by the way f the Red Sea, t g arund the land f Edm; and the peple became impatient because f the jurney. Num. 21:5 The peple spke against Gd and Mses, Why have yu brught us up ut f Egypt t die in the wilderness? Fr there is n fd and n water, and we lathe this miserable fd. Here we see the classic Israelite respnse t hardship during their wanderings In v.4 we hear they are impatient because f the jurney And their impatience leads them t speak against bth Gd and Mses T speak against implies they are rejecting bth Gd and Mses as their leader In particular, they imply that Mses leadership will bring them t death In particular, they accuse Mses f bringing them ut f Egypt withut fd r water and they will die in the desert If we think abut that statement fr a minute, we see hw ridiculus it was First, they have been wandering in the desert fr 38 years at this pint It was ne thing t cmplain abut dying in the desert in the first weeks after leaving Egypt But they have seen Gd take care f their daily needs fr nearly 4 decades Cnsequently, their accusatins hld little water at this pint Secndly, lk at the end f v.5 when they say they lathe the miserable fd They re referring t the manna Gd has prvided fr them during the duratin f their wanderings Everyday when they wake up, there is manna waiting fr them in the desert 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
4 Numbers 21! 4 Obviusly, their cmplaining abut dying is an exaggeratin, since they were receiving fd and water everyday Just a chapter earlier, Gd had Mses call frth water frm a rck t accmmdate the thirsty peple Peple tday really aren t different frm the Israelites When we are feeling unhappy with ur circumstances, we ll turn every blessing int a reasn t cmplain I can remember sitting in the back f my parents car n lng rad trips cmplaining abut being uncmfrtable n the lng drive Frgetting that the lng drive was taking me t a Disneyland vacatin And ur cmplaining is ften exaggerated t help strengthen ur case and win greater sympathy This is a favrite technique f teenagers, isn t it? If they dn t get smething they need, they will die Die frm hunger, die frm bredm, die frm embarrassment It s a miracle that any teenagers survive t adulthd In this case, hwever, the Israelites exaggeratin and insults were n laughing matter By rejecting Mses and Gd, the Israelites were truly in jepardy fr their lives Num. 21:6 The LORD sent fiery serpents amng the peple and they bit the peple, s that many peple f Israel died. Num. 21:7 S the peple came t Mses and said, We have sinned, because we have spken against the LORD and yu; intercede with the LORD, that He may remve the serpents frm us. And Mses interceded fr the peple. When parents hear their children cmplain abut nthing, we may be tempted t use thse time tested wrds, I ll give yu smething t cmplain abut I wnder if a similar thught went thrugh the Lrd s mind at this pint In any case, He sends fiery serpents int the camp 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
5 Numbers 21! 5 We dn t knw fr sure what these serpents were They might have been purely supernatural creatures, r they culd have been a plague f real snakes They are called fiery, prbably because f the reddish clr f many desert snakes and the nature f their bite The pet Lucan wrte in a pem a descriptin f the bite a desert snakes the ancients called the prester r dipsas, which lived in the deserts f Libya Aulus, a nble yuth f Tyrrhene bld, Wh bre the standard, n a dipsas trd; Backward the wrathful serpent bent her head, And, fell with rage, the unheeded wrng repaid. Scarce did sme little mark f hurt remain, And scarce he fund sme little sense f pain. Nr culd he yet the danger dubt, nr fear That death with all its terrrs threatened there. When l! unseen, the secret venm spreads, And every nbler part at nce invades; Swift flames cnsume the marrw and the brain, And the scrched entrails rage with burning pain; Upn his heart the thirsty pisns prey, And drain the sacred juice f life away. N kindly flds f misture bathe his tngue, But cleaving t the parched rf it hung; N trickling drps distil, n dewy sweat, T ease his weary limbs, and cl the raging heat. With swift expansin swells the blated skin. Naught but an undistinguished mass is seen; While the fair human frm lies lst within. The puffy pisn spreads, and leaves arund, Till all the man is in the mnster drwned. This is the fate appinted t the camp f Israel It s imprtant t ntice tw things at this pint in the stry First, ntice that everyne in the camp f Israel is being bitten Nt everyne was bitten in the same mment, perhaps, but the plague is reaching everyne in the camp 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
6 Numbers 21! 6 There is n escape fr anyne Secndly, ntice that the deadly effects f the bite require time t take hld It s apparent frm what they say in v.7 that the plague is nging and they seek relief lest everyne die At least we see that the peple are expressing a measure f repentance in the midst f the judgment They acknwledge t Mses that they spke against Gd and Mses And this sin is respnsible fr the death they are experiencing at the bites f these snakes This plague is unlike anything Gd has dne befre during Israel s wanderings in the desert In the past Gd has brught punishment n the entire camp f Israelites, but they weren t fatal And in ther cases, Gd brught fatal judgments, but never against the entire camp This seems t be the first time Gd has brught a judgment against the entire camp f Israel that culd result in everyne s death Obviusly, Gd wuld have t d smething t interrupt this judgment, r there wuld be nthing t save Israel frm death And in respnse t the peple s shw f repentance, the Lrd ffers a way ut f the death sentence Num. 21:8 Then the LORD said t Mses, Make a fiery serpent, and set it n a standard; and it shall cme abut, that everyne wh is bitten, when he lks at it, he will live. Num. 21:9 And Mses made a brnze serpent and set it n the standard; and it came abut, that if a serpent bit any man, when he lked t the brnze serpent, he lived. In respnse t the peple s cry fr help, the Lrd tells Mses t create a fake snake Mses made it ut f brnze (r cpper), prbably t give it an appearance similar t the snakes themselves 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
7 Numbers 21! 7 Then Mses set this substitute serpent n ne end f a wden ple and held the ple up like a flag And then he carried this ple thrugh the camp and as men were bitten, they culd lk upn this ple and just a glance at the brnze serpent wuld save them What a curius slutin It almst seems t easy, desn t it? In fact, it makes us ask why bther with the whle exercise? What des lking at the serpent accmplish? Well, let s first cnsider what must have transpired as Mses carried ut Gd s rders After making the serpent n a stick, Mses must have begun t walk amng the camp f Israel The peple are hundreds f thusands and prbably mre than a millin This will take time fr Mses, and the whle time the camp is suffering under the plague f these serpents As Mses mves, what can we assume he was saying t the peple? Undubtedly, he was declaring hw Gd had prvided a slutin t their predicament As I imagine it, Mses mved frm tribe t tribe in the camp declaring that Gd had heard their cries f repentance And Gd had given grace t their death sentence Then Mses said that the ne wh has been bitten must lk up at the fiery brnze serpent, and Gd wuld save them frm death In wnder the peple thught when they heard this fr the first time? Perhaps they were desperate enugh t simply d as Mses said withut questining 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
8 Numbers 21! 8 We can assume sme reacted this way, since we knw that Israel survived that day t enter the Prmised Land But we als knw that many died (v.6) And vv.8-9 leaves pen the pssibility that sme might nt have taken the advice What might have stpped smene frm ding as Mses said? The instructins were simple enugh and cst the persn nthing The persn had nly had t d tw things They had t repent, recgnizing that the serpent bite was the result f their wn sin And then take advantage f the pprtunity Gd made available t be saved by fllwing Mses instructins But if any f these steps were missing, the bite wuld prve fatal S why des Gd cme up with such an dd judgment and relief? When Jesus gave us the answer in the Gspel f Jhn And His answer als prvides us with the cnnectin t Easter Jhn 3:14 As Mses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even s must the Sn f Man be lifted up; Jhn 3:15 s that whever believes will in Him have eternal life. In talking t Nicdemus, Jesus tries t explain why a man must be brn again When Nicdemus first heard these wrds, he was perplexed He asked hw can a man g back int the wmb t be brn again? Jesus explain that the term brn again wasn t a reference t being physically rebrn Instead, Jesus was talking abut being brn again spiritually, receiving a new kind f spirit t replace the dead ne every persn receives at first 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
9 Numbers 21! 9 Since we have been studying Genesis, we remember that the dead SPirit Jesus spke abut was the spirit we inherited frm Adam, the man wh brught sin int the wrld And this dead spirit has left every persn with a death sentence Thugh we are living tday, it s a temprary kind f existence Our heart is beating...fr nw But ne day, it will stp Yu can say we have a death sentence The death rate amng humans is 100% - we all die eventually In v.14 f Jhn 3, Jesus was cmparing Nicdemus - and all mankind - t the Israelites bitten by the serpents in the desert Like them, we have been bitten by a judgment sent frm Gd n accunt f sin Paul says it this way in Rmans 5:12 Rm. 5:12 Therefre, just as thrugh ne man sin entered int the wrld, and death thrugh sin, and s death spread t all men, because all sinned In the desert, the sin f the Israelites was speaking against Mses and Gd And we said that speaking against implied they were unwilling t be led by Gd and by Gd s appinted representative Mses Tday, all men and wmen are engaged in a similar kind f rebellin Hw? We are equally unwilling t be ruled by Gd and Mses And by Mses, I m referring t the Law f Gd which was delivered t men by Mses Just as the Israelites rebelled against Mses leadership, we rebel against Gd s Law The Law f Gd is the definitin f hliness, and it is the requirement fr entering int Gd s presence in heaven 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
10 Numbers 21! 10 Gd s wrd tells us that if we have brken even ne f Gd s laws, it is a sin wrthy f death There is n grading n the curve with Gd But Mses wasn t merely the reasn why the Israelites sinned Gd als used Mses t deliver a salvatin frm their afflictin After all, Mses was the ne wh called their attentin t the brnze serpent n the ple, which brught salvatin S here s Nicdemus listening t Jesus He s like an Israelite wh had been bitten by a deadly snake He was still alive, fr nw But he was headed t the grave sner r later, and it was his sin that put him n that rad t death But if he recgnized he was in jepardy, Jesus said there was reasn fr hpe Referring t Himself as the Sn f Man, Jesus said that He was pictured by that substitute brnze serpent Jesus was t be ur substitute lifted up n a wden crss And if smene wuld lk upn Jesus in faith, he culd be saved frm his death sentence f sin And instead f an eternity in fiery judgment, the ne wh believes receive eternal life And just like Mses in the desert, Gd s Law is bth the ne that brught ur sin t light and leads us t the slutin After all, tday s chapter in Numbers is cnsidered part f the Msaic Law But the utcme is a questin f faith And here it is tday pinting us t Jesus fr ur salvatin If we are willing t lk upn the histrical Jesus Christ wh was nailed n a crss fr ur sins And if we believe in that payment, we will see eternal life 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
11 Numbers 21! 11 Lk at the next three verses in Jhn 3 Jhn 3:16 Fr Gd s lved the wrld, that He gave His nly begtten Sn, that whever believes in Him shall nt perish, but have eternal life. Jhn 3:17 Fr Gd did nt send the Sn int the wrld t judge the wrld, but that the wrld might be saved thrugh Him. Jhn 3:18 He wh believes in Him is nt judged; he wh des nt believe has been judged already, because he has nt believed in the name f the nly begtten Sn f Gd. Jhn 3:16 is easily the best knwn verse in the entire Bible, but it s s well knwn, we may have stpped listening t what Jesus says here The mtive fr Gd s grace was lve fr the wrld Specifically, Gd lved the created wrld that std t perish had He nt acted t save it frm the judgment f sin Just like the camp f Israel that std n the brink f extinctin Rather than see that end, Gd made a way pssible He sent His Only Sn t earth, and in His earthly existence, Jesus lived withut sin S that he had n debt f His wn, but nevertheless He paid the debt f sin n the crss And nw Jesus says that thse wh accept this pprtunity will see their death sentence cmmuted t eternal life The Sn arrived as a Man with this purpse in mind: t bring salvatin t the wrld We might ask ur questin again? Why wuldn t smene accept such a simple ffer? If we understand we have this jepardy befre Gd, as the Israelites did in the desert Then surely, we can understand the need t cmply with Gd s simple request? Sadly, many get stuck at step ne: repentance 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
12 Numbers 21! 12 They refuse t acknwledge they have been bitten by sin and the bite is fatal Lk at what Jesus declared in v.18 The ne wh desn t believe is already judged Just like the Israelite wh might have refused t lk at Mses serpent was already dying f the snake bite They had already received their judgment even befre they refused t lk up The same is true tday Failing t believe in Jesus desn t bring a new judgment The judgment fr sin is already in place But Jesus can be ur rescue We dn t have t be that persn, the ne wh dies withut hpe On this Easter Sunday, we can be the ne wh heard Mses calling, lked up t sky and saw the gift f grace that Gd made available In the desert, the Israelites culd lk arund and see their brthers saved frm death And they culd knw that Gd s prmise was trustwrthy And tday we can lk upn Jesus s death and resurrectin and have ur prf that Jesus prmise f eternal life is trustwrthy 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.