Numbers 21 … Consider His Standard Raised

They are at it again! This amnesic, rebellious people who had just vowed to the LORD in an act of seeming faith and utter dependence resulting in His gracious deliverance (21:2-1), once again grow impatient and open wide their murmuring mouths (21:5).

An abrupt awakening, leading to repentance, accompanies His severe and just punishment.

The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived, (21:6-9).

Consider His Standard Raised

From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, this Hebrew word translated as standard, is also translated as pole: “5251. נֵס nēs: A masculine noun indicating a banner, a standard. It refers to a symbol or sign representing a cause, a person, God: a standard, a representation of the Lord (Ex. 17:15); …It indicates a pole on which to display something (Num. 21:8, 9).”

After realizing the enormity of their terminal situation, confessing their sin and requesting intercession be made on their behalf, the LORD instructed Moses to make an image of the poisonous serpent to be lifted up on a pole, set on a standard.

His Standard Raised displayed His means of salvation. Salvation would come in no other way; it was to be His Standard Raised or none at all.

  • His Standard Raised the realization they deserved judgment because of sin and resulted in their seeking salvation.
    • So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; (21:7).
  • His Standard Raised the understanding they were helpless and doomed to death and caused them to turn to Him, their only hope.
    • …intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us,” (21:7).
  • His Standard Raised His provision to conquer death, found in the image of the very cause of death to bring life.
    • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live,” (21:8).
  • Though poisoned by the serpent’s bite of death, any who would look to His Standard Raised would live.
    • And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived, (21:9).

How do we respond to His Standard Raised?

His Standard Raised in the wilderness is a type of His Standard Raised for all of mankind, in His Son Jesus Christ, lifted on the cross, receiving the judgment we each deserve. We are saved by His Standard Raised, or none at all.

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved, (Acts 4:12).

Although the punishment for the murmuring Israelites was severe, it was an act of His kindness; for repentance resulted through awareness of their deserved judgment and complete inability to do anything to save themselves.

We too can know and experience His grace and kindness as we come to Him in repentance.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4).

  • May the realization we deserve judgment because of sin move us to seek His salvation through Jesus, His Standard Raised.
    • “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead,” (Acts 17:30-31).
  • May the understanding we are helpless and doomed to death cause us to turn to Jesus, His Standard Raised, as our only hope.
    • And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” (Matthew 19:23-26).
  • May we trust His provision to bring life and conquer death through His Standard Raised, through the One Who became sin, the very cause of death.
    • He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • Though we are doomed to death, poisoned by sin, when we come in faith and look to His Standard Raised to receive eternal life, we will be saved.
    • “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life,” (John 3:14-15).

Let us daily give thanks, that our murmuring mouths be silenced as we experience His provision of life through His Standard Raised. Oh may our lips be opened to offer continuous praise for His Standard Raised.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;
Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise, (Psalm 51:14-15).

Let’s Grow Together!

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