Numbers 21 Overview: A Microcosm of Life

Sundown Silhouette

Numbers 21: The Process of Overcoming­—From Sin to Victory and Salvation!

21:4–9, The bronze serpent on the pole is a prophetic picture of salvation at the cross of Yeshua from the sting of death brought on by sin (John 3:14–15; 1 Cor 15:55–57). This is a picture of the believer’s initial salvation.

21:10–22:1, Here is a recounting of the Israelites’ wilderness trek before entering the Promised Land. It was a time of testing, refining, building of faith, and learning obedience for the Israelites. This is a picture of the spiritual walk of the believer through the wilderness of this physical life.

21:14–35, While crossing the wilderness, the Israelites had to fight and overcome the enemy—that is, those who would keep them from fulfilling their YHVH-ordained destiny to possess the land and inheritance he had promised them. First comes the fighting and overcoming, followed by the victories. The life of the believer is one of spiritual struggle, as well, against the world, the flesh and the devil. (See Rom 7:14–25; 2 Cor 10:3–5; Eph 6:10–18.)

21:10, 14–18, Here we read how Israel was refreshed with water from the rock. Isaiah speaks about the wells of salvation (Isa 12:3). There is a springing up of joy and praise (verse 17) that comes as victory is experienced, and as YHVH makes rivers to flow out of seemingly dry and barren situations (verse 18). We, too, are called to come to the rivers of salvation, the river of life and to become ourselves a river of life to all those with whom we come into contact (John 7:37–39). Yeshua is the source of that living water; he is the spiritual Rock and source of water that never runs dry (John 4:10, 13–14; 1 Cor 10:4).

Numbers 21: The Process of Overcoming­—From Sin to Victory and Salvation!

21:4–9, The bronze serpent on the pole is a prophetic picture of salvation at the cross of Yeshua from the sting of death brought on by sin (1 Cor 15:55–57). This is a picture of the believer’s initial salvation.

21:10–22:1, Here is a recounting of the Israelites’ wilderness trek before entering the Promised Land. It was a time of testing, refining, building of faith, and learning obedience for the Israelites. This is a picture of the spiritual walk of the believer through the wilderness of this physical life.

21:14–35, While crossing the wilderness, the Israelites had to fight and overcome the enemy—that is, those who would keep them from fulfilling their YHVH-ordained destiny to possess the land and inheritance he had promised them. First comes the fighting and overcoming, followed by the victories. The life of the believer is one of spiritual struggle, as well, against the world, the flesh and the devil. (See Rom 7:14–25; 2 Cor 10:3–5; Eph 6:10–18.)

21:10, 14–18, Here we read how Israel was refreshed with water from the rock. Isaiah speaks about the wells of salvation (Isa 12:3). There is a springing up of joy and praise (verse 17) that comes as victory is experienced, and as YHVH makes rivers to flow out of seemingly dry and barren situations (verse 18). We, too, are called to come to the rivers of salvation, the river of life and to become ourselves a river of life to all those with whom we come into contact (John 7:37–39). Yeshua is the source of that living water; he is the spiritual Rock and source of water that never runs dry (John 4:10, 13–14; 1 Cor 10:4).

 

How many people are on the brink of insanity…like King Nebuchadnezzar?

Terrified Businessman

Daniel 4:28–33, King Nebuchadnezzar. For all of his great power and accomplishments, the king was on the verge of emotional and mental instability (or insanity). Hearing the voice and judgment from heaven evidently was the tipping point that drove him toward the side of insanity.

This illustrates the fact that for all of their greatness, many notable world leaders live their lives on the ragged edge between sanity and insanity, between mental and emotional stability and instability. Likely, these individuals are so compromised in their souls in that they have had to perform so many dastardly deeds to rise to the positions of power that they hold that they have become tormented deep inside. In reality, this can be the case with any human who has  turned his back on his Creator.

Guilt, shame and a sullied conscience due to sin are irrepressible and cannot be expunged from a man’s heart. Such people can hardly live with themselves; they are trapped and can’t get out of their minds and bodies. Their deep inner guilt and shame perpetually keeps them at the brink of mental breakdown and madness.

Only the truth can set them free—the truth of redemption of sin through the preaching of the gospel message, through the love and forgiveness or Yeshua the Messiah and the supernatural transforming work of the Spirit of Elohim in one’s heart. For this reason, the servants of the Most High must keep preaching the gospel and holding sinners accountable for their sins against the Almighty.

 

Willful Sin Vs. Presumptuous Sin

Numbers 15:27–31, Two types of sin are delineated in this passage. They are the sin of ignorance and the sin of presumption (i.e., willful sinning, or literally, “sinning with a high hand”). For the first sin there is an offering or atonement. For the second sin, the penalty is death as illustrated by the example of the Sabbath-breaker in verses 32–36. It is interesting to note that breaking the Sabbath is the example the Torah uses to illustrate willful or presumptuous sin. Why is this? Likely, YHVH in his prescience realized that Sabbath observance would be a great bone of contention and point of struggle for his people. Indeed, even to this day, the idea of resting on the seventh day Sabbath still raises the antagonism of many in the church.

Numbers 15:30–36, The person who does anything presumptuously. Here we see an example of presumptuous sin with regard to the Sabbath. Presumptuous sinners despise the Torah-commands in YHVH’s Word thinking themselves to be above the laws of Elohim thus refusing to be ruled by it. The act of gathering the sticks on the Sabbath was an affront both to the law and the Lawgiver says Matthew Henry.

Here are some word definitions:

Presume means “to assume, to undertake without leave or clear justification, dare.”

Presumptuous meansaudacity; overstepping due bounds, taking liberties.”

The Hebrew word for presume is ruwm/ OuR /resh-vav-mem sofit (Strong’s H7311) meaning “to rise up, be high, be lofty, be exalted, to exalt oneself, magnify oneself, to be rotten, and to be wormy.”

Reflect on your own life. Are there areas of disobedience in your life of which you need to repent? Many times we sin out of human weakness, not willful disobedience. Can such sin, if not eliminated, lead to presumptuous sin? Can we become so callous to sin that we become brazen and willful in our disobedience to YHVH’s laws? Paul talks about those whose consciences have become seared (1 Tim 4:2). What does this mean? In the Testimony of Yeshua, willful or presumptuous sin is often known in common parlance as the unpardonable sin. Note what the writer of Hebrews has to say about this (see Heb 6:6–7 and 10:26–31).

 

Do we really think that we’re better than the children of Israel?

Numbers 14:22, Have tempted me now these ten times. Israel, while in the wilderness, tested YHVH ten times and refused to heed his voice.

According to the Jewish sages, these ten times were: Exodus 14:11; 15:24; 16:3; 16:20; 16:27; 17:2; 32:4; Numbers 11:1; 11:4; and here (i.e., believing the spies’ evil report).

Look at each of these incidents where Israel “tested” YHVH and preferred to walk in doubt and unbelief rather than to trust YHVH’s Word. These are examples for us to learn from (1 Cor 10:11). Be blatantly honest with yourself: how many times have you tested your Heavenly Father in the same areas Israel did?

 

The Second Passover and the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel

Numbers 9:6–11, Defiled by a human corpse. This passage can also be understood allegorically. The second Passover is a prophetic picture pertaining to the lost and scattered sheep of the house of Israel who, like those individuals in this passage, had been journeying in exile (just like the prodigal son in Yeshua’s parable) among the Gentiles in a foreign land and away from the land and Elohim of Israel. In the process of their spiritual wandering, they have become defiled by sin and death (likened here to touching a human corpse), since the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), and all have men have sinned and fallen short of the YHVH’s glory (Rom 3:23). While in exile (again like the prodigal son in the parable), they awake to their spiritual apostasy and want to come back home to observe the Passover (a picture of redemption or salvation).

Passover is the only biblical festival for which YHVH’s allows a make up. At the first Passover in Egypt, those who weren’t in their houses under the lamb’s blood-painted doors fell under the death penalty for sin and were killed. This teaches us that Passover is a picture of man’s obtaining salvation through the blood of Yeshua, the Messiah who is the Lamb of Elohim.

YHVH desires that all men be saved and come to know Yeshua the Savior, and Passover is a picture of this. This is why he gives men a second chance to keep the Passover—he wants all to be saved (John 3:16; 2 Pet 3:9), including his lost, scattered, exiled and prodigal children from the house of Israel.

 

We all have been (or still are) an adulterous woman…

Adultrous Woman

Numbers 5:11–31, This passages deals with a curious ritual involving wives suspected of adultery called the Law of Jealousies whereby the woman is hauled before the priest, her head is uncovered and, according to Jewish tradition, her dress is ripped open just above her breasts (b.Talmud Sota 7a). She then has the choice to drink a concoction of earth from the floor of the tabernacle mixed with the set-apart (kadosh) water from the bronze laver into which is dipped a piece of paper that contains the curses written on it. If she is guilty of the charges of adultery when she drinks the bitter waters, her belly shall swell and her thigh (Heb. yarek or side or loins,which are the seat of procreative power) shall rot as a result of a divine judgment. If she is guiltless, the bitter waters will have no effect on her. If she refuses to drink the bitter water and her husband still suspects her unfaithfulness, then he is free to divorce her, even though she has admitted no guilt. According to Jewish tradition, this legal procedure was carried out by Israel’s highest court in Jerusalem (Sota 7b).

Some biblical commentators see a parallel here between the adulterous woman and the trial and execution of Yeshua at the cross. After only a casual reflection on the issues, this may seem unlikely. But ponder this for a moment. Did YHVH liken his Continue reading

 

What is evil? The Torah or man’s sin nature?

Romans 7:4, You have been made dead with regard to the Torah. Are you free to break the law if you’re now dead to it? David Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary (p. 375) explains that it is not the Torah that has been made dead (or abrogated), nor is a believer made dead in the sense of no longer responding to its truth. Rather, he has been made dead not to all of the Torah, but to three aspects of it: (1) its capacity to stir sin in him (vv. 5–14), (2) its capacity to produce irremediable guilt feelings (vv. 15–24), and (3) its penalties, punishment and curses (8:1–4).

To fully understand Paul’s writings, one must have a complete understanding of the Torah and all of its aspects. Most individuals coming from the Christian theological perspective have a very limited and narrow understanding of the Torah (or as they term it, “the law”). For example, they fail to understand that how we react to the Torah—obedience versus disobedience—will determine how Torah “reacts” to us. For example, YHVH has embedded into the Torah a cause-and-effect spiritual mechanism: obey and be blessed, disobey and suffer the consequences, i.e., the curses of the Torah. Other laws in the universe with which we are familiar have the same cause-effect rewards-punishment systems built into them. How about the law of gravity? Try jumping off a tall building, for example. Paul in verse 13 asks whether we Continue reading