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Numbers 21:4-9; Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 428-432


The Message:

We worship God when we have faith in Him.

Memory Verse

“Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22).

Have your parents ever asked you to do something that you didn’t want to do? Maybe you couldn’t understand why they wanted you to do it. But you obeyed them because you have faith in them. You believe they want what’s best for you.

Something like that happened to the Israelites. Let’s read more.


God’s people had been wandering in the desert for 40 years. The Israelites had once been on the edge of the Promised Land. But because they chose to disobey God and not believe Him, they wandered through the wilderness. But He didn’t abandon them. Every day of those 40 years they had manna to eat. They had water to drink.

Now, once again, the Israelites were near the Promised Land. So near that they could see the cool valleys and green fields. And they thought it unfair that they had spent 40 years in the desert. They grumbled to one another. Then they began to grumble to Moses.

“Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in this wilderness?” they complained. “There’s no water! There’s no bread! And we’re tired of eating manna!”

They didn’t appreciate what God had done to keep them safe. They weren’t happy about spending all that time in the hot, dusty desert learning more about God and knowing His ways are always good. Once again, they accused God of causing their hardships.

Poor Moses. He had heard it all before. He tried to point out God’s leading. He tried to show them the many ways God had cared for them. But they wouldn’t listen. It seemed that all they could do was complain. Finally God decided to take away His protection and let them see what would happen.

The poisonous snakes that lived in the desert soon overran the camp. And many of the Israelites were bitten. In almost every tent someone was dead or dying. No one was safe from the fiery snake venom. Once bitten, they soon died.

It didn’t take the people long to see how wrong they had been. “We sinned when we grumbled about you and God,” they told Moses. “Please,” they begged, “pray that God will take away the snakes.”

Moses prayed, and the Lord heard him. God told him to make a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. If those who had been bitten would look at the bronze snake, they would live. Moses made the snake just as he was told. And the people who looked at it were healed by God.

But some people didn’t have faith in God. They chose not to follow His directions, and they did not look at the pole. Because they did not obey, God could not heal them, so they died.

The snake in the desert was a symbol of Jesus dying for our sins. The metal snake itself had no power to heal. It was faith in God that led Him to heal them.

Years later Jesus referred to His death. The Bible tells us what He said. “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man [Jesus] must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:14, 15). Our faith in Jesus lifted up on the cross helps us know that Jesus died so we can live with Him forever. So, have faith in God. And believe what the Bible says.