God is For Us
Ever had someone against you? Not fun. They might try to defame you, speak against you or about you. But if God is for us, who can be against us? Sometimes people can be underhanded and have hidden motives against us, but God sees and fights on our behalf. And even when we sin against Him, God makes a way for us to be restored.
Bible Reading of the Day: Numbers 21-24
Today’s reading starts off with a victory. The Lord handed over the Canaanites to the Israelites. But victories don’t last long when we walk in the flesh.
“4 Then they set out from Mount Hor by way of the Red Sea to bypass the land of Edom, but the people became impatient because of the journey. 5 The people spoke against God and Moses: “Why have you led us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread or water, and we detest this wretched food!” 6 Then the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit them so that many Israelites died.
7 The people then came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Intercede with the Lord so that he will take the snakes away from us.” And Moses interceded for the people.
8 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake image and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will recover.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole. Whenever someone was bitten, and he looked at the bronze snake, he recovered.”
God is For Us—Overcoming Sin
The Easy English Bible Commentary
“Jesus referred to the passage with the bronze snake when he was talking about his death (John 3:14). People lifted Jesus up on a cross. He compared himself with the bronze snake on the pole. Sin is like poison. Everyone is born with a desire to sin because Adam, the first man, did not obey God (Genesis chapter 3). This sin causes death to our spirits. It does not allow us to live how God intended us to live.
God did not remove the snakes; and he does not remove all sin from the world. Instead, he provided a way to cure every person from the results of sin. And, like the Israelites, we have to do something. We have to look at the cross. We must believe that Jesus died on our behalf. Then he will forgive all our sins. He suffered the punishment that we deserve.
Every Israelite had to look at the bronze snake themselves. Nobody else could do this on another person’s behalf. In the same way, every person must believe in Jesus on their own behalf.”
God is For Us—Faith Overcomes Our Sin
“God was teaching the people something about faith. It is totally illogical to think that looking at a bronze image could heal anyone from snakebite, but that is exactly what God told them to do. It took an act of faith in God’s plan for anyone to be healed, and the serpent on the stick was a reminder of their sin which brought about their suffering. There is no connection between this serpent and the serpent which Satan spoke through in the Garden of Eden. This serpent was symbolic of the serpents God used to chastise the people for their unbelief.”
God is For Us—A Foreshadowing of Christ
“A couple of additional lessons are taught in the Bible regarding this bronze serpent. The people did get healed when they looked at the serpent, and the image was kept for many years. Many years later, when the Israelites were in the Promised Land, the serpent became an object of worship (2 Kings 18:4). This shows how easy it is for us to take the things of God and twist them into idolatry. We must never worship the tools or the people God chooses to use, but always bring the honor and glory to God alone.
The next reference we find in the Bible to this serpent is in John 3:14. Jesus indicated that this bronze serpent was a foreshadowing of Him. The serpent, a symbol of sin and judgment, was lifted up from the earth and put on a tree, which was a symbol of a curse (Galatians 3:13). The serpent lifted up and cursed symbolized Jesus, who takes away sin from everyone who would look to Him in faith, just like the Israelites had to look to the upraised symbol in the wilderness. Paul is reminding the Galatians that Jesus became a curse for us, although He was blameless and sinless—the spotless Lamb of God. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).”
God is For Us—Christ is Our Living Sacrifice
John 3:14, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”
Someone had to die for our sins, friends. There are consequences when we disobey God’s word. That snake wasn’t pretty to look at and neither are our sins. Christ’s suffering on our behalf is painful to think upon, as well. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23).
Shortly after this lesson, God gave victory to the Israelites against the Amorites. And then the Moabites were afraid of the Israelites, so then Balak, the king of the Moabites sent for Balaam to place a curse on God’s people.
This is an interesting story and perhaps a little confusing. Balaam is an interesting figure. Reading different commentaries about him, though, we see that Balam was not a godly man. Though he did not curse the Israelites directly, he did so indirectly. Balaam was a pagan prophet who practiced divination and other magic arts, led Israel into apostasy, and was identified as a greedy, unscrupulous man by Peter and Jude (2 Peter 2:15 –16; Jude 1:11).
God is For Us—Blessing Instead of a Curse
“Balaam did not curse God’s people. He blessed them in obedience to God. “However, later on Balaam figured out a way to get his reward from Balak. Balaam advised the Moabites on how to entice the people of Israel with prostitutes and idolatry. He could not curse Israel directly, so he came up with a plan for Israel to bring a curse upon themselves. Balak followed Balaam’s advice, and Israel fell into sin, worshiping Baal of Peor and committing fornication with Midianite women. For this God plagued them, and 24,000 men died (Numbers 25:1–9; Deuteronomy 23:3–6).”
God is For Us—Even When Others Arent
Balaam’s name and story became infamous, and he is referred to several times in the New Testament. Peter compares false teachers to Balaam, “who loved the wages of wickedness” (2 Peter 2:15). Jude echoes this sentiment, associating Balaam with the selling of one’s soul for financial gain (Jude 1:11). Finally, Jesus speaks of Balaam when He warns the church in Pergamum of their sin: “There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:14). Satan’s tactics haven’t changed all that much. If he cannot curse God’s people directly, he will try the back-door approach, and idolatry and sexual immorality are his go-to temptations.”
This made me think of Proverbs 26:2, “Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim.”
Scripture of the Day: Numbers 23:19
“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”
- God sees the heart. He knows our motives. He knew Balaam’s motivations, too.
- When we are tempted to sin, we need to see that this temptation is not a blessing, but it is working toward our destruction.
- God is for us—who can be against us?
- The same God who did not want His people cursed is fighting for us, too.
7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan
Day #246:Numbers 21-24
Scripture of the Day: Numbers 23:19
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Used with permission from Denise Pass at www.denisepass.com.