February 20, 2007
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- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in Oboth.
- And they journeyed from Oboth, and pitched at Ijeabarim, in the wilderness which is before Moab, toward the sunrising.
- From thence they removed, and pitched in the valley of Zared.
- 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.
- 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,
- And at the stream of the brooks that goeth down to the dwelling of Ar, and lieth upon the border of Moab.
- 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.
- Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it:
- 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:
- And from Mattanah to Nahaliel: and from Nahaliel to Bamoth:
- And from Bamoth in the valley, that is in the country of Moab, to the top of Pisgah, which looketh toward Jeshimon.
- And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying,
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- And Israel took all these cities: and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all the villages thereof.
- 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.
- Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared:
- 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.
- 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.
- We have shot at them; Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon, and we have laid them waste even unto Nophah, which reacheth unto Medeba.
- Thus Israel dwelt in the land of the Amorites.
- And Moses sent to spy out Jaazer, and they took the villages thereof, and drove out the Amorites that were there.
- And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he, and all his people, to the battle at Edrei.
- And the LORD said unto Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon.
- So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land.
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- And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho.
- And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
- And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.
- And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.
- He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:
- Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.
- And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.
- And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the LORD shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.
- And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?
- And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying,
- Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out.
- And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.
- And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the LORD refuseth to give me leave to go with you.
- And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us.
- And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they.
- And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me:
- For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.
- And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more.
- Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the LORD will say unto me more.
- And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.
- And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.
- And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
- And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
- But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.
- And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again.
- And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
- And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.
- And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?
- And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.
- And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.
- Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
- And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me:
- And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.
- And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.
- And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
- And when Balak heard that Balaam was come, he went out to meet him unto a city of Moab, which is in the border of Arnon, which is in the utmost coast.
- And Balak said unto Balaam, Did I not earnestly send unto thee to call thee? wherefore camest thou not unto me? am I not able indeed to promote thee to honour?
- And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.
- And Balaam went with Balak, and they came unto Kirjathhuzoth.
- And Balak offered oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him.
- And it came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal, that thence he might see the utmost part of the people.
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Thought for the day:
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Numbers 21 includes another great portrayal of the salvation that was going to be offered to the world through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Once again the children of Israel were complaining. They were upset at God's direction, and dissatisfied with God's provision. Because of their rebellious attitudes and actions, God sent serpents into the camp that bit the people, and many died. Because of this, the people came to Moses in a spirit of contrition, and asked him to beseech the Lord for mercy. Moses did so, and God instructed him to make a brass serpent and raise it on a pole. Anyone who looked at the serpent would be saved from death. Moses obeyed, and the people were spared.
This true story is used by Jesus Himself as an illustration of what He was going to accomplish on the cross. In
John 3:14-15 He says,
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Man is plagued with a sin problem. Because of his inherent sinfulness and rebellion against a holy God, there must be a punishment.
Romans 6:23 tells us that the "wages of sin is death"; the same penalty that was pronounced upon the Israelites. As there was nothing the Jews could do to help themselves, so there is nothing that fallen man can do to save his own soul.
Titus 3:5 states that salvation is
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done",
Ephesians 2:9 echoes the fact that eternal life comes,
"Not of works, lest any man should boast."
The only hope for man is the mercy of God.
God, in His graciousness, designed a way for man to be healed from the sickness of his soul. Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, allowed Himself to be made "in the likeness of sinful flesh" (
Rom. 8:3). Just as Moses hung a serpent on the pole, the likeness of that which brought about the death of Jews, so God
"hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin", (
II Cor. 5:21).
Christ had the iniquities of the world placed upon Him as the Substitute for mankind. However, as the raising of the serpent had no effect upon those who would not look at it, so the crucifixion of Jesus has no value to those who refuse to look to Him in faith as their Savior. The hymn writer penned these words, "If you from, sin are longing to be free, look to the Lamb of God. He to redeem you died on Calvary; look to the Lamb of God." The Scriptures put it this way:
"Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else," (
Salvation is not based upon what anyone can do. It is entirely based upon what Jesus Christ has done in shedding His blood as the atonement for sin. The only way to receive salvation is through faith. I'm sure that there were some Jews who thought to themselves, "We're dying, and he tells us that we can be cured by looking at a bronze snake? I don't believe it!" They undoubtedly tried some of their own remedies, and ultimately perished because they chose not to believe God when He told them what would cure their problem. So today men will refuse to believe God when He says,
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.", or
"Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life," (
John 3:16). They will attempt their own solutions to their sin problem: baptism, confirmation, church attendance, penance, giving, etc. Yet all of these are doomed to failure, and will result in the loss of the man's soul unless he chooses to believe what God has said, and look to Christ by faith for salvation.
Pastor Dr. Mark J Montgomery