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Salvation in Numbers
Brazen Serpent

Things did not go the way that the Israelites thought they would. They began the journey from Egypt with the jewels and
riches of Egypt, but they did little to bring water and food in the wilderness. They left behind an existence with the food
provided by the gardens of Egypt. They left a land with plenty of water. They wearied of the bleak lives they were now

It is part of the human existence for things to not go as planned. How many of us have done in our lives what we
expected to do when we were teenagers? Full of expectation, the plans of life change as circumstances rarely coincide
with what we thought they would be, or (more precisely) what we hoped they would be.

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and
get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth
for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But
now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to
him it is sin. (James 4:13-17)

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (Philippians 4:


The people blamed God for their condition, and their circumstances. The bread which they had (the manna provided by
God) was less than they remembered having in slavery. Why had they left Egypt for circumstances that were worse?

And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the
fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. And the people
cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched. And he called the name of the place
Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burnt among them. And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting:
and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did
eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is
dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes. And the manna was as coriander seed, and the
colour thereof as the colour of bdellium. And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in
a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil. And when the dew
fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it. Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families,
every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased. And
Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy
sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them,
that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land
which thou swarest unto their fathers? Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me,
saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat. I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if
thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my
wretchedness. (Numbers 11:1-15)

Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a
man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he
shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:49-51)
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the
hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he
that receiveth it. (Revelation 2:17)

When things do not go according to plan, when circumstances become worse than we expect or remember, when
difficulties arise and problems overwhelm us, people blame God. Poor decisions, worse actions and failure to plan are
not taken into consideration. “It must be God’s fault!” is the cry. There is an absence of taking responsibilities for the
actions of the individual.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his
flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians


In response to their babblings and blasphemy God sends fiery serpents, whose bite kills the people.

There are consequences to our actions. Although we cannot say that every sickness, injury or misfortune is the
chastisement of God, there is ample evidence from scripture that chastisement is a reality.

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the
chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth
every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the
father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much
rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own
pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth
to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are
exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:5-11)

The greatest consequence for our actions is the payment for sin. Sin separated Adam from God in the beginning. Sin
separates us from God in our lives. The only way to alleviate the consequence is through Jesus Christ.


Moses prayed for the people. He petitioned God.

The response to difficulties, disappointment and despair is prayer. It relieves difficulty, it soothes disappointment and it
corrects despair.

Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on
the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth
brought forth her fruit. (James 5:17-18)
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. 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

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.
John 3:14-18

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. For God so loved the world, that he gave
his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God
sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that
believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not
believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.