Journey with Daniel
“Day 21 (Numbers 21)”Categories: 40 Days in the Wilderness
This chapter provides what might be the brightest moments in this entire book. Israel completed three successful military campaigns: the Canaanite king (v. 1-3), the Amorite king Sihon (v. 21-32), and Og king of Bashan (v. 33-35). Three great victories all found in this chapter. Yet, when we read Numbers 21 we don’t remember Israel’s victory, we remember their defeat. In the midst of these victories we find another occasion of Israel grumbling over the lack of water and good food, and God sends “fiery serpents” to punish them.
The serpent scene is interesting. The people rebel against God and Moses with their tongues, and God sends a judgment through serpents. But it’s here we see something Israel does that’s remarkable – they confess they’ve sinned (v. 7). Then it is Moses, who they complained against, who intercedes for them, and God, who they turned against, who provides the cure. Moses built the bronze serpent and whoever was bit yet looked to that bronze serpent lived. What a type for Christ! (John 3:14-17)
There are so many thoughts to pull from this chapter. I’m sure you’ll glean much through reading and reflecting over it. Here’s what I took from Numbers 21: what a shame that the great victories Israel won through the strength of the Lord are overshadowed by their sin. It’s a reminder to us that it can take years to complete works, to build trust, to sustain a positive influence and reputation, but all of it can come crashing to the ground in an instant through sin. Sin ruins and destroys. We need to realize this – one moment of darkness can harm, destroy, and certainly overshadow years of hard work for light.
But there’s hope – just as there was for Israel. God provided Israel with their humble, compassionate leader Moses (who had interceded on their behalf numerous times by now). And after the serpents, God provided Israel with 2 more victories. And even with the serpents, God provided their healing – the bronze serpent. For those who had been bit, God gave a second chance.
Some of you may be feeling like this today – caught up in a series of wrongs – whatever good you’ve done seems overshadowed by the sin you’ve committed. You’re bit by the bitter sting of sin. Remember – God provides. And for you He has provided a Savior. Look to Jesus. See His example. See His grace. Rejoice in His love. Follow His words. Don’t give up on God – He’s not given up on you.
Here’s a simple reminder for you today: God has victory in mind for you. But that victory is only found in Christ (1 Cor. 15:57). Fix your eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2). Don’t let the failures and sins of yesterday distract you from a better today, and a brighter tomorrow. Rise with Jesus – look to Jesus – and be victorious in Jesus.
Our victorious King, this day we pray to You realizing how sweet and powerful those words are: “Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In You we do have victory – victory over sin – victory over our past – victory over Satan – victory over the grave. All this is possible through You – the Son of Man lifted up for the sins of the world. Thank You for providing for us what we need. Father, You gave Israel the bronze serpent. You’ve given us something far more precious – You’ve given us Your Son. How deep is Your love, how great is Your grace! Please forgive us of our sin. Help us to see hope when it seems there’s none – help us to see light when all we see is darkness – help us Father, to see victory before us, when all we see is defeat behind us. Help us to rise when we’ve fallen, to learn and change, and become more like Jesus than we were before. We long for Heaven – we long to be reunited with our loved ones who have fought the good fight and finished the course – we long to see our Jesus, and to sing and shout the victory! Lead us Home Father. Lead us on to victory!