‘Of snakes and salvation’ (Numbers 21:4-9)

The text of Numbers 21 concerns the snakes that bit the people of Israel after they grumbled against Moses and the Lord. In an act that would foreshadow the salvation that Jesus would bring, Moses lifted up a bronze snake upon a pole and all who looked to it were healed and kept from certain death. Jesus spoke of this in John 3:15-18 and said that He would be lifted up (on the cross) and all who look to Him in faith will be saved.

‘Lessons from a dead stick’ (Numbers 17:1-13)

Numbers 17 relates the important story of Aaron’s rod that budded, proving that he was the one chosen by God to be the High Priest of Israel. While mankind hates the notion of needing to be saved by another, God has made it clear that salvation can only be found in the Lord Jesus Christ and not in any other. Aaron’s budding rod also reminds us that (as Jesus taught in John 15) that it is only those who are ‘connected’ to Him who produce fruit.

‘The fall and fall of Korah and his friends’ (Numbers 16:1-50)

The text of Numbers 16 concerns the rebellion of Korah and his friends against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Korah fell for the dangers of thinking too highly of himself, influencing others the wrong way and refusing to humble himself before the Lord. His tragic end was a warning to the rest of the Israelites, but sadly they did not heed the lesson. The New Testament speaks of ‘Korah’s rebellion’ and urges us to heed the lesson that ‘a man reaps what he sows’ – something that the people of Israel failed to grasp.

‘The dangers of unbelief’ (Numbers 14:11-45)

Numbers 14 is a sad tale of the consequences of the unbelief of the people of God in the desert. Their unbelief was contrary to what they had experienced of the Lord’s goodness and mercy, it led to death and defeat and also caused hardness of heart amongst the people. These consequences of unbelief still remain – especially when churches and denominations ignore the truths of God’s Word and determine to go their own way. Only one solution to this is recommended and that is to never let a minute pass when we are not trusting the Lord.

‘Giants, grasshoppers and God’ (Numbers 13:1-14:10)

Numbers 13 and 14 concern the pivotal moment when the twelve spies brought back their report of the land of Canaan. All saw that the land was flowing with ‘milk and honey’ and was exactly as God had told them would be. However, in unbelief, ten of the spies reported that the giants in the land were too big for them to fight, while only Joshua and Caleb urged them all to trust in God’s promises and go in and take the land. It is not easy to live by faith and not by sight, but God calls us to do just that and not take our eyes of His presence or His promises.

‘A community of grumblers’ (Numbers 11:1-12:16)

Numbers 11 and 12 is mainly concerned with  the ‘attitude of ingratitude’ shown by the people of Israel on their journey through the desert. The people had a mind to complain about the food they had and didn’t have, some blessings others had and the leader (Moses) they all had. Such grumbling was evidence of their lack of trust in the Lord and His gracious gifts. A spirit of grumbling and complaint can still afflict the people of God today, whenever our eyes are off the Lord and His undeserved blessings.

‘Led by cloud and fire’ (Numbers 9:15-10:23)

According to Numbers 9 and 10, the people of Israel made their way ‘on foot through the desert’ led by a pillar of cloud and fire, but also by His Word and by the advice of a friend. Though God led His people through supernatural means, He continues to use ordinary means – especially the reading and hearing of His Word – to lead and guide His people today. These are big questions, but the bigger question is, once we know which way God is leading us, will we be willing to do what He wants?