-The king of Arad, a Canaanite, who lived in the Negev (south country) heard that Israel was coming by way of Atharim. He fought against Israel and took some of the population captive. At this point Israel made a vow to the LORD to utterly destroy the Canaanites cities if they would be delivered from this situation. The LORD complied with their request and gave up the Canaanites into their hand with Israel utterly destroying them at the place called Hormah (destruction). From there they ventured southward, and around Edom, by the way of the Red Sea (Numbers 21:1-4). Once again the people of Israel became impatient in the process and complained against Moses and God. They said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food (Numbers 21:4b-5).” Notice the dichotomy of them saying they had no food, and then stating that they loathed the actual provision from the LORD. They had food; they just weren’t satisfied with the food God had given them. Ungrateful, despondent, and miserable the people were given what they deserved from the LORD when He sent fiery serpents among them with venomous biting. Many were dying, and they came back humbly to Moses when they realized that they had made a huge mistake with their dissatisfaction. They acknowledged their sin in speaking against the LORD and Moses and asked that he intercede for them so that the serpents might be removed. Moses did go before the LORD on their behalf, and God did give mercy in a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah. He told Moses to make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard (a pole). When the people would look to the fixture, they would be saved and live. Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard between heaven and earth. When the stricken people looked to the serpent on the standard, they were healed (Numbers 21:6-9).
-*Application* We still use this symbol in the medical profession to indicate a hope for remedy. Jesus Christ of course is the ultimate cure for our sinful natures. When we look to Him who was suspended on the cross between heaven and earth for salvation, He freely gives life and hope to all who believe in Him. God gives redemption and makes a way back into His good graces!
-From that point, the sons of Israel moved on and camped in Oboth. From there they ventured to Iveabarim, which was in the wilderness opposite Moab and to the east. From there they set out and camped in Wadi Zered. This was dry ravine except during rainy periods occasionally. Then, they moved and camped further north on the other side of the Arnon, which was in the wilderness that comes out of the border of the Amorites. So it was an area between the Amorites and Moab. From there they continued to Beer, and the LORD provided them with abundant water in that place causing them to sing, “Spring up, O well! Sing to it! The well, which the leaders sank, which the nobles of the people dug, with the scepter and with their staffs.” And from that wilderness they continued to Mattanah, then Nahaliel, then Bamoth, then to the valley that is in the land of Moab, “at the top of Pisgah which overlooks the wasteland (Numbers 21:10-20).”
-There, Israel sent messengers to Sihon, who was the king of the Amorites, saying to him, “Let me pass through your land. We will not turn off into field or vineyard; we will not drink water from wells. We will go by the king’s highway until we have passed through your border (Numbers 21:21-22).” The king would not let them come through, just like what had happened earlier with Edom (Numbers 20:14-21). God was with His people though. As the people of the Amorites assembled against Israel in the wilderness in a place called Jahaz to fight, Israel struck them down with the edge of the sword and took possession of the land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, and as far as the sons of Ammon in Jazer. Israel took control of all these cities and lived in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon (the city of King Sihon), and in all her villages. A proverb is written in the text with the mention of Chemosh, the national god of Moab who they worshipped as a god of war. This false god was of no help whatsoever when the true God came through in dominant fashion. Thus Israel lived in the land of the Amorites, and they began a campaign to spy out Jazer eventually capturing its villages and dispossessing the Amorites who were there. Then they turned and went up further by the way of Bashan, and Og, their king, went out with all his people to battle at Edrei. Here God prophetically assures His children victory telling them not to fear this Og, king of Bashan, for He had given him into their hand along with all the people of Bashan and their land. God promised that he would be as the king of the Amorites, Sihon, who lived at Heshbon. So they killed Og and his sons and all his people, until there was literally no remnant left, and they possessed his land (Numbers 21:23-35).
-*Application* When God goes out to conquer His foes, they are quickly dismantled. He is the One who can easily turn the tide of situations in your life when you call upon Him in humility and dependency. Let God fight your battles according to His will (1 Samuel 17:47, 1 John 5:14-15). Don’t fret the enemy or be discouraged. Victory is around the corner if you remain in Him and follow His lead. And remember, complaining and bad mouthing God does absolutely no good for you. Repent and be healed.
Verse to Memorize: Numbers 21:8