Israel and the Vicious Vipers

Israel and the Vicious Vipers
March 10, 2019
Passage: Numbers 21: 4-9
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Numbers 21: 4-9

This time is near the end of the Israelite's journey and the people began to complain, they were tired, and weary and they complained. So God sent serpents into the camp. It goes to show the harsh punishment for those who do not obey.

  • John 3:14
  • John 12:32

This is an illustration and foreshadowing of the death of Christ. The raising of a serpent on a pole, and they had to just look to be healed. Like Christ was lifted up we too can receive God’s mercy when we look to Christ lifted up on the cross and follow Him in obedience.

What was their Sin?

  • Numbers 21:4-5, They Rejected God

They spake against God. They complained.

  • Numbers 11:1
  • Numbers 14:2
  • Numbers 16:41
  • Numbers 17:12

Time and again, Israel complained.

This time, in Numbers 21:4 They spoke against God Himself. They denied Him. Every time we complain and speak against God we make him out to be a liar. But, God’s promises are true.

  • Romans 3:4

They rejected God’s goodness. They loathed the manna that He was feeding them with.

They rejected God’s prophet. They spoke against Moses. Despite His provision, they reject Him and the leader which He gave them.

The world is given God’s provision, His air, His food. Yet, they despise God’s goodness. The Israelite nation had not only God’s provision, they also had His presence. Yet, they turned on Him and rejected Him.

Israel’s Sentence

  • Numbers 21:6

He sent fiery serpents and many died. They deserved this punishment which was righteous justice. 

The serpent is always a symbol of sin in the Bible. Sin is like a serpent, always there, ready to strike.

Jesus said, my yoke is easy, and my burden is light, Matthew 11:30. 

SIN Leads us to Death

  • Proverbs 13:15
  • Matthew 7:13,14
  • Ezekiel 18:20
  • James 1:14, 15
  • Romans 6:23

Many of the people of Israel died.

Their Sorrow

  • Numbers 21: 7

Moses prayed for the people. They admitted their sin, and sought Moses to seek God.

They took 3 steps to seek God's Mercy

STEP 1 - They were convicted of their sin.

Step 2 - They confessed they spoke against the Lord.

Step 3 - They showed contrition  

  • John 6:34
  • John 12:32
  • Romans 10:17
  • Romans 1:16
  • Romans 6:17
  • Hebrews 5:9

 Their Salvation

  • Galatians 3:13

Jesus was lifted up, The guiltless for the guilty. God provided a means for them to be saved.

Obedience to God's word is what saves us today. In Numbers 21 they saw a picture of salvation, a serpent, symbolizing sin lifted up on a pole for them to look at and be healed. But, in the New Testament we see the Savior, Jesus, lifted up for our salvation. We must look to Jesus for our salvation.

  • John 13:14,15

The only reason people die in their sins today is because they won’t look to Jesus. He gave clear instructions for what people are to do in order to receive salvation.

  • Luke 13:3, We must repent
  • Luke 12:8, We must confess
  • We must be baptized,  Mark 16:16
  • Revelation 2:10 -- be faithful unto death to receive a crown of life.

Have you been bitten by the serpent of sin? Are you aware that you must do something or you will die in your sins? You can choose to be obedient and look to Jesus for salvation.


Photo Credit: David Bjorgen, [[File:Brazen Serpent Sculpture.jpg|thumb|Brazen Serpent Sculpture]]

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