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Numbers 21:1-9: The Serpent That Saved

For more context before you begin studying, read this introduction to the book of Numbers.

Crises strikes. We feel surrounded by uncontrollable forces and a hopeless situation. At times like this the weakest fall into sin; the strongest lift their eyes to God and find new power. In this remarkable story, we learn of God's provision in the wilderness for those who believe. And we see in the incident the foreshadowing of God's provision through Christ, more than a thousand years later.

Warming Up to God

What is the most difficult crisis you've faced over the past couple of years? How did you seek God in that situation?

Read Numbers 21:1-9

Discovering the Word

  • In the previous chapter, Aaron and Miriam have died; Moses has been punished. How would the state of mind of the Israelites contribute to this crisis?
  • How do the Israelites' complaints in verses 4-5 contrast with the events of verses 1-3?
  • Why do you think God chooses a snake as the central symbol of his salvation, considering how snakes have just been used (vv. 6-9)?
  • John 3:14-15 compares Jesus to the bronze snake. What similarities can you find?

Applying the Word

  • Crisis events seem to separate the strong from the weak. If an unforeseen catastrophe happened today, how would you look to God for strength?
  • How can you help others to seek God in trying times?

Responding in Prayer

Praise God the deliverer as you seek him in prayer today. Review the times he has been there to provide comfort and deliverance. Particularly give thanks that he has lifted up his Son, like the snake, so that we can keep our vision focused.

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