4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
When difficulty succeeds difficulty apparently without end, human strength and patience are likely to give way...Israels journey was long and trying; but under divine leadership, they persevered, and the end came at last. They found themselves at the end of the forty years, (and after a few years fighting), settled in peace and safety in the land of promise.
These things were types and examples. They serve their purpose if we learn from them to be patient under all the toils of the journey we are making through the present evil world. The journey will not last for ever.
But while we are here in conflict with the evil we need to be fortified < fortified to endure. To fortify the mind is to make it strong, and to make it strong is to fill it with ideas that give a joyful reason for action. There are ideas that have no power to influence the mind in this way, but contrariwise. This is why some books are profitable, and some not; some men helpful and some not. The ideas that inspire us to endure tribulation, and to deny ourselves are those that are connected with God. As David says, 'I saw the Lord always before me, therefore I shall not be moved'. In proportion as God is a vision before the mind, will we feel strong to sustain the part of waiting for Him.
We cannot in our day get this vision apart from the Bible. We cannot see God with the natural eye. We could even do this, if God permitted. We may hope to see and feel Him in the glorious ages, if we are permitted to have a place therein. But, meanwhile, our privilege is limited to knowledge and faith, and these we do not get as students of nature, but as students of the Scriptures. God has put it in our power to know Him by the abundant revelation He has made. Oh, how privileged we are to have this revelation.
It is communicated to us in a form so full of interest and so able to thoroughly furnish the man of God unto all good works. Those discover this who read methodically and daily. By this habit they open for themselves treasures of acquaintance and conviction that cannot be reached by the casual, desultory, or indifferent reader.
Bro Roberts - Fortified to endure.
Our sympathies are with them, as they must be with any who are discouraged, but we cannot deny that they had no excuse on this occasion. They would not have been discouraged if they had kept their minds on their blessings and miraculous delivery from Egypt, and not brooded on their temporary hardships.
By holding our troubles up close to our face and staring at them, we too may be discouraged; but let us try to keep everything in its true proportion and not belittle Christ's great and self-sacrificing work by warped, ungrateful self-pity.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4.32
6 And Yahweh sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel [Yisroel] died.
When they were afflicted they repented, as was to be their unworthy custom with monotonous regularity all down their history, until finally the longsuffering of God was withdrawn.
God chastens His children in the process of their development, but when this process is repeated over and over with no permanent effect, it amounts to mocking God and despising His longsuffering. It is easy to get into the habit of assuming that repentance will always bring forgiveness, until life becomes a mechanical see-saw of commission and confession.
THERE MUST BE A PROGRESSIVE "OVERCOMING." The promise is only
"to him that overcometh."
Note how this phrase is seven times emphatically repeated -- at the summation of each of the seven messages to the ecclesias (Rev. 2 and 3).
At God's instruction Moses made a serpent of brass and put it upon a pole, and whosoever was bitten -- and looked upon it -- lived. Jesus said (John 3:15):
"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish."
How could a brass serpent be a type of Christ? A serpent of brass is a perfect symbol of the body of sin -- sin's flesh -- that was publicly and historically condemned in the crucifixion of Christ.
That crucifixion is the turning-point of human history. While -- to outward appearances -- it was apparent shameful victory of sin over Christ, it was actually the glorious victory of Christ over sin. How often are things in God's sight the very opposite of what they outwardly seem!
Cooperating in the great work of justifying God and creating a foundation for the extension of God's mercy while honoring His holiness, Jesus voluntarily submitted to this public condemnation and repudiation of the serpent-cursed body of sin -- the body of which Paul said:
"In me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing."
Those who know the Truth, and realize the value and REALITY of Christ's mortal warfare with the devil, and his complete victory over him, will have no difficulty in seeing in the brazen serpent, the devil -- sin's flesh -- defeated and condemned and crucified on the hill of Calvary -- the banner and ensign of the greatest victory that any man has ever won.
In the original, "serpent of brass" is "nechosh nechosheth"for the words for "brass" and "serpent" are from exactly the same Hebrew root. This adds great fitness to the use throughout Scripture of brass as a symbol of the flesh.
Moses was commanded to put the serpent of brass "upon a pole." The Hebrew word here translated "pole" should be "standard, banner, or ensign" -- that which is a rallying-point for armies in battle -- this word is almost invariably so translated elsewhere.
It is the same word (nes) as occurs in the expression "Yahweh-Nissi" -- The Lord Our Banner -- the name given to the altar built by Moses to commemorate the victory over the Amalek-sinpower by the lifting up of the Rod of God (Ex. 17:9, 15).
The uplifted serpent of brass was the saving ensign of serpent-bitten Israel, just as its great anti-type is the banner and ensign of all the sin-smitten race who look to him for life. Isaiah uses this same Hebrew word nes ten times, in stirring imagery, as --
"At that day there shall be a Root of Jesse who shall stand for an ensign of the people: to him shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious!" (Isa. 11:10).
We note that the ensign has two parts -- the Rod erect and triumphant, the Serpent conquered and impaled.
Bro Growcott - The serpent and the rod
8 And Yahweh said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
Why was Christ made in Adam's nature?
Answer.-That he might die for those involved in the condemnation of that nature (1), being put to the proof of obedience under which Adam failed (2). If it had merely been a question of putting him to the proof of obedience, there would have been no reason for his being born of Mary.
It would have sufficed for such an object that he had been made out of the ground, direct, a full grown adult as Adam was. But the plan was to condemn sin in its own nature (3), after the type of the serpent in the wilderness. The bitten Israelites were asked to look at the biter impaled, as the condition of being healed. Jesus said this had to be fulfilled in him (4). Human nature as the sinner was the biter, and in him, it was lifted up in condemnation on the cross.
1. -1 Peter 4:1: "Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh; " 1 Peter 3:18: "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God;" Romans 8:3: "God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and on account of sin condemned sin in the flesh."
2. -Romans 5:19: "By the obedience of one shall many be righteous." Heb. 5:8: "He learned obedience by the things that he suffered." Phil. 2:8: "He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
3. -Romans 8:3: "Condemned sin in the flesh."
4. -John 3:14: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up."
The Christadelphian, July 1873
9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
The New Testament writers expressed themselves on the subject of disease in the language of the people, without undertaking to reveal to them more precise knowledge concerning it than they already possessed. The Jewish nation, however, admitted one truth, practically ignored by all others to this day-that all diseases are laid upon mankind by the hand of God as corrections for their transgressions of his law.
As it is written in their law,
"If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of those diseases upon thee which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord that healeth thee."
From this, it is clear, that it is not disembodied ghosts of wicked men, or devils from hell, or the Devil, that cause lunacy, dumbness, madness, and so forth, which are referred to "demons," but Yahweh that puts diseases both on Jews and Gentiles.
"If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law, O Israel, then the Lord," says Moses, "will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses of long continuance. Moreover, he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee. Also every sickness, and every plague, which are not written in the book of this law, them will the Lord cause to ascend upon thee, until thou be destroyed."
Physical or natural evil is chastisement and punishment for sin; and because the Serpent was the cause of its introduction into the world, he stands as the symbol of what is inimical or adverse to human happiness. Hence, that system of evil within the flesh and in the world, which he originated, adverse to God, to righteousness, and to health, is surnamed "Satan," or Adversary, "that old Serpent." This is Sin's symbol: so that the Israelites dying from serpent bites, because of transgression, looked to the Serpent lifted up by Moses for their cure.
The serpent there exalted, represented sin to be condemned in the flesh of a crucified Messiah, for the cure of all believers of the gospel who looked to him. Hence, Serpent-sin, or Satan, and disease, are as cause and effect. Thus, the woman incurably diseased is said to have been bound of Satan for eighteen years. This is the case with Israel and the rest of the world to this day.
They are bound of Satan-a bondage from which none can free them, but
"the Son of Man at Yahweh's right hand, whom he hath made strong for himself:"
for "it is He that healeth thee," O World, as the Lord hath said. It was natural, then, that diseases being generally referred to Satan, particular affections should be designated by the word demon taken in an evil sense, instead of a good one, in which also it is sometimes used.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, July 1854.
Paul says all these things were "written for our admonition" and are "able to make us wise unto salvation." In the divinely recorded history of Israel, we have the wonderful "patterns of things in the heavenlies."
How clearly we see the Messiah in the budded rod, the watergiving Rock, the great Mosaic Lawgiver and Prophet -- meekest of all men, the dying and yet continuing High Priest, the heaven-sent manna, the glorious saving ensign of the uplifted serpent -- just as we see him in our day in the bread and the wine, and the open Bible, for "His Name is called The Word of God" -- he was that Word made flesh. David prayed, with a yearning heart--
"Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy Law."
This mind must be in us, if we are to be among the few chosen from the earth's perishing millions. We must make ourselves one with the Word of God -- steep ourselves in it -- live constantly in its atmosphere -- both the written Word and the living Word, for they are one. John says (1 Jn. 2:5)--
"Whoso keepeth his Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. Hereby KNOW we that we are in him!"
And then he adds--
"He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, EVEN AS HE WALKED."
Do we walk "even as Jesus walked?" We have the four-fold story of his marvellous, heavenly life on earth, and this great Book of rich and entrancing symbol that all revolves around him
Is he our pattern in all we do or say? Let us make it our daily endeavour -- our whole ambition in life -- to "be in him" and to "walk even as he walked."
Today the ecclesial world -- as we have known it -- is being torn to pieces. Ensigns that have long been faithfully upheld are being pulled down. Though it saddens us, it need not worry us. It is the last days -- these things must be. Salvation is an individual matter, and in the end those who are trying to be faithful will be more and more alone.
Let us, therefore, let this one obsession possess each mind like a transforming, consuming fire, crowding out all doubt and fear--
"Hereby KNOW we that we are in him -- IF the love of God is perfected in us ... and we walk even as he walked."
Bro Growcott - The serpent and the rod