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Numbers 19-21

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

Numbers Chapter 19

Although Baptism is often regarded as a Christian invention, a prototype of baptism, with exactly the same symbolism, to exactly the same true God, was known long before (see The Origin of Baptism), as in this example ("the water for impurity, for the removal of sin") in which it was combined with a symbolic blood sacrifice i.e. Christ's blood sacrifice (see Why Blood?) is only valid for those who accept it by repenting (Christ didn't die for sinners, Christ died for repentant sinners; unrepentant sinners are going to be cast into the lake of fire). Baptism isn't about water, it's about repentance and beginning to live according to God's Way.


"Now The Lord said to Moses [see The Education Of Moses] and to Aaron, "This is the statute of the law which The Lord has commanded: Tell the people of Israel to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish, and upon which a yoke has never come. And you shall give her to Eleazar the priest, and she shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered before him; and Eleazar the priest shall take some of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of her blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. And the heifer shall be burned in his sight; her skin, her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall be burned; and the priest shall take cedarwood and hyssop and Scarlet stuff, and cast them into the midst of the burning of the heifer.

Then the priest [see Levites] shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterwards he shall come into the camp; and the priest shall be unclean until evening. He who burns the heifer shall wash his clothes in water and bathe his body in water, and shall be unclean until evening.

And a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the people of Israel for the water for impurity, for the removal of sin." (Numbers 19:1-9 RSV)

Numbers Chapter 20

Moses was one of the greatest servants of The Lord that has ever lived (see The Trysting Tent). But Moses was not above God's Law; it was not "the law of Moses," it was Law of God that Moses merely delivered. Although we know that Moses is going to be in the future Kingdom of God (see The Transfiguration), the spiritual promised land, Moses committed an infraction against The Lord that cost him entry into the physical Israelites physical promised land (see Why Did Christ Put Moses To Death? and Physical and Spiritual Israel). Ironically, and tragically, Moses' failure there at the waters was during his attempt to deal with the rebels who were opposing The Lord's leadership again.


"Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tent of meeting, and fell on their faces. And the glory of The Lord appeared to them, and The Lord said to Moses, "Take the rod, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water; so you shall bring water out of the rock for them; so you shall give drink to the congregation and their cattle."

And Moses took the rod from before The Lord, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, "Hear now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?" And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his rod twice; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle.

And The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe in Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." (Numbers 20:6-12 RSV)

Aaron was the first to die; The Lord chose the precise time and place in which he would pass the symbolic office of high priest (see What Is Jesus Christ Doing Right Now?) on to his son.

"And they journeyed from Kadesh, and the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor. And The Lord said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom, "Aaron shall be gathered to his people; for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the people of Israel, because you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah. Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up to Mount Hor; and strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron shall be gathered to his people, and shall die there."

Moses did as The Lord commanded; and they went up Mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation. And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there on the top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar [see The Lines Of Eleazar and Ithamar] came down from the mountain. And when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, all the house of Israel wept for Aaron thirty days." (Numbers 20:22-29 RSV)

Numbers Chapter 21

The Israelites were now approaching their promised land; unlike the earlier opportunity that they threw away (see A Journey Without A Destination), this time they would enter. The people in the land and the surrounding territories presented a formidable resistance. The Edomites had just done so ("But he said, "You shall not pass through." And Edom came out against them with many men, and with a strong force. Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his territory; so Israel turned away from him," Numbers 20:20-21 RSV) and The Lord had let them get away with it, for the moment, and then the king of Arad did the same. Edom and the Canaanite nations were literally playing with fire, as they would now begin to feel (see also "Strong Is He Who Has Come Down"):

Bronze Serpent

"When the Canaanite, the king of Arad, who dwelt in the Negeb, heard that Israel was coming by the way of Atharim, he fought against Israel, and took some of them captive. And Israel vowed a vow to The Lord, and said, "If Thou wilt indeed give this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities." And The Lord hearkened to the voice of Israel, and gave over the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities; so the name of the place was called Hormah." (Numbers 21:1-3 RSV)

Despite all that The Lord had done for them, the second generation of post-Exodus Israelites were often as much whiners and complainers as their parents had been, for which they had been left to die in the desert (again, see A Journey Without A Destination). When the people rebelled, The Lord sent poisonous snakes among them, from which came a symbol, not only of the modern-day medical profession, but of Christ (see the Fact Finder question below).

"From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, "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 worthless food."

Then The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses, and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against The Lord and against you; pray to The Lord, that he take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people. And The Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live." (Numbers 21:4-9 RSV)

Unlike the previous approach to enter, which it seems may have been through the south, the Israelites were now making their way north along the east coast of the Dead Sea (see The Salt Sea), whereafter they would then turn west and cross the Jordan (see The Jordan Valley). It was then, for a while, that The Lord made the Israelites undefeatable. They were, at that point, the greatest military superpower that has ever existed, before or since. Nothing could have stopped them from entering the land that The Lord had promised to Abraham because any enemy would have had to defeat The Lord Himself to prevent it.

"But Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his territory. He gathered all his men together, and went out against Israel to the wilderness, and came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel. And Israel slew him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as to the Ammonites; for Jazer was the boundary of the Ammonites. And Israel took all these cities, and Israel settled in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all its villages." (Numbers 21:23-25 RSV)

"And Moses sent to spy out Jazer; and they took its villages, and dispossessed the Amorites that were there. Then they turned and went up by the way to Bashan; and Og the king of Bashan came out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. But The Lord said to Moses, "Do not fear him; for I have given him into your hand, and all his people, and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon." So they slew him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was not one survivor left to him; and they possessed his land." (Numbers 21:32-35 RSV)

Fact Finder: What is the significance of the "serpent on a pole" to Jesus Christ? What happened to the original one that Moses made, centuries later, and why?
See The Bronze Serpent

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