Title: "Jesus in Numbers: The Look of Salvation"
Subj: The serpent of brass
Purpose: To relate this story to the offer of salvation for those that
will but look.
Introduction: In the Book of Numbers we have the record of the failure of
the children of Israel to go in and possess the Promised Land. God
intended to bring them out of something (Egypt), and to place them into
something (the land of promise), but because of a lack of faith they
wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Everyone that was unwilling to
trust God perished in that wilderness, leaving only Joshua and Caleb.
The Hebrew title for this book is Bemidbar ("in the wilderness of”), taken
from the first verse. The LU (Hebrew into Greek) title is Arithmoi
(Numbers), because of the prominence of census figures in this book.
The children of Israel have now entered the 40th year of wandering in the
desert. Miriam, Moses’ sister, has died. The children of Israel once again
complain about a lack of water and provision. God tells Moses to speak to
a rock for water, but Moses, in anger, smites the rock twice with his rod.
Because of this act of disobedience, both Moses and Aaron must die in the
wilderness without entering the Promised Land. Aaron is taken to the top
of Mt. Hor, divested of his priestly garments, and gathered to his people
in death. Once again the children of Israel are on the move.
21:4-9 — "Jesus in Numbers: The Look of Salvation" — prayer
(The beginning of suffering. We close our spiritual eyes and open our
fleshly, lustful eyes. Like Lot, we then only see the well watered plains
A. Over the
1. Led directly away from the Promised Land
a. No seeming progress
b. The cross is just as heavy, but the crown is no brighter, no closer
B. Over the
1. The length of way
a. Brother Edom caused this Nu 21:14,17,21 (turn)
2. Roughness of the way
a. Arabah is stony, sandy, barren plain surrounded by mountains
b. Hottest time of the year
3. Companionship of the way
a. Complainers, back-biters
1. The inner man, their very being
2. Not just the outside countenance, but inside
(Disillusionment & discouragement is normal, but be careful where it takes
1. God (ordained their journey)
2. Moses (ordained by God)
a. 12th time children of Israel complained
1) In 2-3 years, since 38 years of wandering are not recorded for us
Against Their Location
1. Where God had placed them (spouse, family, church, job, school, social
Against Their Provision
1. Bread from Heaven (angel food)
a. Not that there was not enough, but they were weary of it
1) They wanted secular bread, not sacred bread!
b. But God provided the Bread of Life
1 Cor 10:1-3 (turn)
2. Water from the rock
a. They wanted convenience, not consecration
b. But God provided the Living Water (1 Cor 10:4) (turn)
A. Serpent of Discouragement & Disillusionment Turned into Fiery Serpents
Hebrew a seraph or 'burning one,' referring to its color and brilliance,
not its bite
1. How good
Satan makes the "world" look when we are discouraged. How he loves to work
in that fertile field of discouragement and disillusionment.
a. The natural work of Satan & his ministers
Ps 73:3 "For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of
2. Sent among the people
a. Satan has no power except as God gives it
Job 1:12 “And the LORD said unto Satan,
Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth
thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.”
2. Bit the people
a. Sometimes we need to be bitten by sin to be awakened to death!
i) Poison of sin working death in man
b. Helplessness of the people
3. Killed many people
a. But not all
Note: Why do
some people go merrily through life without the weight of a wasted life on
their conscience (made miserable only by occasional physical pain, or
disappointed selfishness), while others sense the poison working within,
leading them to separation from God. (Poison is masked by things of this
Neither herbs, cordials, caustics, or charts could expel the poison from
the blood. Neither reformation, tears, service, nor ceremonies or
confession can avert the consequences of sin.
A. People came to Moses
(one they had rebelled against)
first and only recorded occasion of which the people directly asked for
the intercession of Moses. Afflictions often change men's sentiments
concerning God's people and His people's prayers
1. Moses was
1 Tim 2:5 "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus.”
2. Admitted to sinning
Ro 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
3. Admitted to the their sins
1 Jn 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive
us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
4. Recognized the cure
a. Prayer to the Lord
5. Requested the cure THEY DESIRED (take away the snakes!)
Prayed as Mediator
1. Jesus prays as Mediator, "Father forgive them..."
A. From God
1. A divine remedy (though not what the people asked far)
2. Make a brazen serpent (copper/brass)
a. A brazen serpent was ordained to heal the deadly bites of the serpents
1) Jesus was made in the likeness of sinful flesh taking the very form of
that which was full of sin
Rom3:3 “...God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and
for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.”
b. The brazen serpent was made to resemble the serpents
1) Jesus was so thoroughly human that He was condemned as a sinner
Matt 26:15,46 “Then the high priest rent his clothes saying, He hath
spoken blasphemy...what think ye? They answered and said. He is guilty of
c. The brazen serpent, no matter how much like the actual serpents, had no
poison in it
1) Jesus Christ was without sin, though made like man
1 Pet 2:22 “Who (Christ) did no sin, neither was guile found in His
2. Set it on a pole
a. Lift it up so all can see
1) Jesus was lifted up on the cross of Calvary for all the world to see
Jn 3:14 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so
must the Son of Man be lifted up.”
B. Promise of
Note: It shall
come! It shall pass!
1 Pet 4:12 "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial
which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you”
1. If (since)
a. All have been bitten by the “Old Serpent”
Ro 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death
by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”
2. Look UP (at serpent)
a. Whoever would look up at the brazen serpent was healed of the bite of the
a. Everyone in sight of the brazen serpent might have been healed, but only
those that looked were.
A. Moses Made
1. An image of that which brought the woe
a. Jesus was made in the image of sinful flesh!
"Hurry Moses, hurry!", but it was not sufficient until placed in plain
B. Moses Put
in Plain Sight
1. "It is
finished," Jesus cried from the cross
Col 2:14 "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us,
which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His
Preached the Remedy
1 Cor 1:23 "But we preach Christ crucified,...”
D. If (since)
a. Must appropriate God's remedy
b. Salv. is limited to those who put their faith in Christ
Eph 2:8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves; it (salvation) is the gift of God."
c. A very unlikely method of cure.
d. No obvious connection between means and the result, for the brazen
serpent and Cross are "foolishness" to the scoffer.
1 Cor 1:23 "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a
stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness”
1) Don't be a fool and look at some serpent!
2) I don't believe a word of it, look if you want to
3) Well, I'll look, but I don't believe it!
4) Well, I don't feel too bad yet, I'll wait before I look
5) Though I haven't the strength to crawl to the door for a look, I want to
look now! Someone help me get to the doooorrrrrr......
a. Not merely healed, but received life!
1) They were as good as dead, death was already working in them; and
everyone that looked -- lived!
Jn 3:14-15 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so
must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Hit should not
perish, but have everlasting life."
b. No matter how far from the brazen serpent, no matter how dim with
tears or age the eye -- you lived!
c. Not relived of all pain and sufferings from the bites, only that they
d. Does not say the serpents were taken away
Every bitten Israelite that looked — lived! Every child of Adam — "dead
in trespasses and sins" — who has looked to Jesus as his Saviour has
received eternal life from Him. The snakes are in the camp! They slither
through your lifestyle, biting you at will. Do you feel the first blush of
the poison? Are you red hot inside with the guilt of your sins? You can live
for a look! Will you but look to Christ today?
sin-snake can bite you too! Have you been playing with sin-snakes in your
own life? Have you let the sin-snake of discouragement and disillusionment