Numbers 21* The Canaanites of Arad destroyed. (1-3) The people murmuring,are plagued with fiery serpents, They repenting, are healedthrough the brazen serpent. (4-9) Further journeys of theIsraelites. (10-20) Sihon and Og overcome, Their land possessed.(21-35)1-3 Before the people began their march round the country ofEdom, the king of Arad, a Canaanite, who inhabited the southernpart of the country, attacked them in the wilderness, and tooksome prisoners. This was to lead the Israelites to look morethoroughly to the Lord. 4-9 The children of Israel were wearied by a long march roundthe land of Edom. They speak discontentedly of what God had donefor them, and distrustfully of what he would do. What will theybe pleased with, whom manna will not please? Let not thecontempt which some cast on the word of God, make us value itless. It is the bread of life, substantial bread, and willnourish those who by faith feed upon it, to eternal life,whoever may call it light bread. We see the righteous judgmentGod brought upon them for murmuring. He sent fiery serpentsamong them, which bit or stung many to death. It is to be fearedthat they would not have owned the sin, if they had not felt thesmart; but they relent under the rod. And God made a wonderfulprovision for their relief. The Jews themselves say it was notthe sight of the brazen serpent that cured; but in looking up toit, they looked up to God as the Lord that healed them. Therewas much gospel in this. Our Saviour declared, #Joh 3:14,15|,that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so theSon of man must be lifted up, that whatsoever believeth in him,should not perish. Compare their disease and ours. Sin biteslike a serpent, and stings like an adder. Compare theapplication of their remedy and ours. They looked and lived, andwe, if we believe, shall not perish. It is by faith that we lookunto Jesus, #Heb 12:2|. Whosoever looked, however desperate hiscase, or feeble his sight, or distant his place, was certainlyand perfectly cured. The Lord can relieve us from dangers anddistresses, by means which human reason never would havedevised. Oh that the venom of the old serpent, inflaming men'spassions, and causing them to commit sins which end in theireternal destruction, were as sensibly felt, and the danger asplainly seen, as the Israelites felt pain from the bite of thefiery serpents, and feared the death which followed! Then nonewould shut their eyes to Christ, or turn from his gospel. Then acrucified Saviour would be so valued, that all things else wouldbe accounted loss for him; then, without delay, and withearnestness and simplicity, all would apply to him in theappointed way, crying, Lord, save us; we perish! Nor would anyabuse the freeness of Christ's salvation, while they reckonedthe price which it cost him. 10-20 We have here the removes of the children of Israel, tillthey came to the plains of Moab, from whence they passed overJordan into Canaan. The end of their pilgrimage was near. "Theyset forward." It were well if we did thus; and the nearer wecome to heaven, were so much the more active and abundant in thework of the Lord. The wonderful success God granted to hispeople, is here spoken of, and, among the rest, their actions onthe river Arnon, at Vaheb in Suphah, and other places on thatriver. In every stage of our lives, nay, in every step, weshould notice what God has wrought for us; what he did at such atime, and what in such a place, ought to be distinctlyremembered. God blessed his people with a supply of water. Whenwe come to heaven, we shall remove to the well of life, thefountain of living waters. They received it with joy andthankfulness, which made the mercy doubly sweet. With joy mustwe draw water out of the wells of salvation, #Isa 12:3|. As thebrazen serpent was a figure of Christ, who is lifted up for ourcure, so is this well a figure of the Spirit, who is pouredforth for our comfort, and from whom flow to us rivers of livingwaters, #Joh 7:38,39|. Does this well spring up in our souls? Ifso, we should take the comfort to ourselves, and give the gloryto God. God promised to give water, but they must open theground. God's favours must be expected in the use of such meansas are within our power, but still the power is only of God. 21-35 Sihon went with his forces against Israel, out of his ownborders, without provocation, and so ran upon his own ruin. Theenemies of God's church often perish by the counsels they thinkmost wisely taken. Og, king of Bashan, instead of being warnedby the fate of his neighbours, to make peace with Israel, makeswar with them, which proves in like manner his destruction.Wicked men do their utmost to secure themselves and theirpossessions against the judgments of God; but all in vain, whenthe day comes on which they must fall. God gave Israel success,while Moses was with them, that he might see the beginning ofthe glorious work, though he must not live to see it finished.This was, in comparison, but as the day of small things, yet itwas an earnest of great things. We must prepare for freshconflicts and enemies. We must make no peace or truce with thepowers of darkness, nor even treat with them; nor should weexpect any pause in our contest. But, trusting in God, andobeying his commands, we shall be more than conquerors overevery enemy.
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