The story of the brazen serpent and forty years
in the desert when Moses strikes the rock in free Bible art and free Bible lessons all ages. Beautifully visual Bible
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|HOW THE LONG JOURNEY OF THE
ISRAELITES CAME TO AN END
Numbers 20 - 22
The people complained against Moses, as they always complained when trouble came
to them, and blamed him for bringing them into such a desert land, where there
was neither fruit to eat nor water to drink, only great rocks all around.
Then the Lord said to Moses: "Take the rod, and bring the people together, and
stand before the rock, and speak to the rock before them; and then the water
will come out of the rock, and the people and their flocks shall drink."
Then Moses and Aaron brought all the people together before a great rock that
stood beside the camp. And Moses stood in front of the rock, with the rod in his
hand; but he did not do exactly what God had told him to do, to speak to the
rock. He spoke to the people instead, in an angry manner. "Hear now, ye rebels,"
said Moses. "Shall we bring you water out of this rock?"
And Moses lifted up the rod, and struck the rock. Then he struck it again, and
at the second blow the water came pouring out of the rock, just as it had come
many years before from the rock at Rephidim, near Mount Sinai; and again there
was a plenty of water for the people and their flocks.
But God was not pleased with Moses, because Moses had shown anger, and had not
obeyed God's command just as God had given it. And God said to Moses and to
Aaron: "Because you did not show honor to me, by doing as I commanded you,
neither of you shall enter into the land that I have promised to the children of
Israel." One act of disobedience cost Moses and Aaron the privilege of leading
the people into their own land of promise!
About this time, Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron,
died at Kadesh-barnea. You remember that when she was a little girl she helped
to save the baby Moses, her brother, from the river. She also led the women in
singing the song of Moses after the crossing of the Red Sea. And soon after her
death Moses and Aaron, and Eleazar, Aaron's son, walked together up a mountain
called Mount Hor; and on the top of the mountain Moses took off the priest's
robes from Aaron, and placed them on his son Eleazar; and there on the top of
Mount Hor Aaron died, and Moses and Eleazar buried him. Then they came down to
the camp and Eleazar took his father's place as the priest.
While they were at Kadesh-barnea, on the south of Canaan, they tried again to
enter the land. But they found that the Canaanites and Amorites who lived there
were too strong for them; so again they turned back to the wilderness, and
sought another road to Canaan. On the south the Dead Sea, and southeast of
Canaan, were living the Edomites, who had sprung from Esau, Jacob's brother, as
the Israelites had sprung from Jacob (see Story Twelve). Thus you see the
Edomites were closely related to the Israelites.
And Moses sent to the king of Edom, to say to him: "We men of Israel are your
brothers. We have come out of the land of Egypt, where the people of Egypt dealt
harshly with us, and now we are going to our own land, which our God has
promised to us, the land of Canaan. We pray you let us pass through your land,
on our way. We will do no harm to your land nor your people. We will walk on the
road to Canaan, not turning to the right hand nor the left. And we will not rob
your vineyards, nor even drink from your wells, unless we pay for the water that
But the king of Edom was afraid to have such a great host of people, with all
their flocks and cattle, go through his land. He drew out his army, and came
against the Israelites. Moses was not willing to make war on a people who were
so close in their race to the Israelites, so instead of leading the Israelites
through Edom, he went around it, making a long journey to the south, and then to
the east, and then to the north again.
It was a long, hard journey, through a deep valley which was very hot; and for
most of the journey they were going away from Canaan, and not toward it; but it
was the only way, since Moses would not let them fight the men of Edom.
While they were on this long journey the people again found fault with Moses.
They said, " Why have you brought us into this hot and sandy country? There is
no water; and there is no bread except this vile manna, of which we are very
tired I We wish that we were all back in Egypt again!"
Then God was angry with the people; and he let the fierce snakes that grew in
the desert crawl among them and bite them. These snakes were called "fiery
serpents," perhaps because of their bright color, or perhaps because of their
eyes and tongues, which seemed to flash out fire. Their bite was poisonous, so
that many of the people died.
Then the people saw that they had acted wickedly in speaking against Moses; for
when they spoke against Moses they were speaking against God, who was leading
them. They said:
"We have sinned against the Lord, and we are sorry. Now pray to the Lord for us,
that he may take away the serpents from us."
So Moses prayed for the people, as he had prayed so many times before. And God
heard Moses's prayer, and God said to him: "Make a serpent of brass, like the
fiery serpents; and set it up on a pole, where the people can see it. Then every
one who is bitten may look on the serpent on the pole, and he shall live."
And Moses did as God commanded him. He made a serpent of brass, which looked
like the fiery snakes; and he lifted it up on a pole where all could see it. And
then, whoever had been bitten by a snake looked up at the brazen snake, and the
bite did him no harm.
This brazen snake was a teaching about Christ, though it was given so long
before Christ came. You remember the text which says, "As Moses lifted up the
serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that
whosoever believeth in him may have eternal life."
Northeast of the Dead Sea, above a brook called the brook Arnon, lived a people
who were called the Amorites. Moses sent to their king, whose name was Sihon,
the same message as he had sent to the king of Edom, asking for leave to go
through his land. But he would not allow the Israelites to pass through. He led
his army against Israel, and crossed the brook Arnon, and fought against Israel
at a place called Jahaz. The Israelites here won their first great victory. In
the battle they killed many of the Amorites, and with them their king, Sihon,
and they took for their own all their land, as far north as the brook Jabbok. Do
you remember how Jacob one night prayed by the brook Jabbok?
And after this they marched on toward the land of Canaan, coming from the east.
And at last they encamped on the east bank of the river Jordan, at the foot of
the mountains of Moab. Their long journey of forty years was now ended, the
desert was left behind them, before them rolled the Jordan river, and beyond the
Jordan they could see the hills of the land which God had promised to them for
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