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portunity of expressing his repentance, and of being reconciled to his God, so as to obtain, through His infinite mercy, an interest in the promises of an eternal inheritance*, to be fulfilled after the Mediator of the New Covenant should have made atonement for the sins of the whole world,
THE BRAZEN SERPENT SET UP IN THE WILDERNESS.
From Numb. Chap. xxi. And when King Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt. in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way
of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some. of them prisoners.
And Israel vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then. I will utterly destroy their cities.
And the Lord hearkened unto the voice of Israel,, and delivered up the Canaanites: and they utterly de-. stroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.
And they journeyed from mount Hor, by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of
And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people: and they bit the people and much people of Israel died.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us : And Moses prayed for the people.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole : and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole : and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Though it was thirty-eight years since the spies were sent into the land of Canaan, the remembrance of them remained; and, without doubt, the inhabitants had been, from that time, suspicious that an attack would be made on them by the Israelites : they therefore immediately took the alarm, when they found that the people advanced by the very road the spies had taken, and it appeared necessary to repulse them in time, Most likely, it was to try the faith of the Israelites, that some of them were permitted to fall into the hands of Arad; and to shew them, that humility and repentance would restore them to the divine favour, God blessed them with success, when they addressed themselves to him as became their condition,
The wilderness, through which the people were at that time passing, was greatly infested with winged ser
pents, very venomous creatures, whose bite occasioned a pain like the burning of fire, which generally proved mortal. The great Creator, who has power over all the works of his hands, restrained them from hurting His people, till they became quite insensible of His mercies; and then He sent these serpents to sting them, as a judgment upon them; but as soon as they confessed their sin, the LORD had compassion on them, and appointed a mean by which they might testify their faith, and be preserved from the dreadful effects of this visitation. The very extraordinary method which God took to relieve the people, shewed, that their recovery was His work. It was not by the application of herbs or mollifying plaisters, that they were restored to health; neither were they saved by the thing that they saw, but by Him who is the Saviour of all *. The brazen serpent was a sign of salvation, to put them in mind of the Covenant of Gov. His adopted sons were chastised for their sins, that they might remember His commands; but when they turned unto their God with repentance and faith, the teeth even of venemous serpents could not destroy them; for His mercy was ever over them, and they were quickly saved.
We are taught by our Lord Himself, to consider the brazen serpent as a type of the Saviour of the world. * As Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, (said He) so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life t.'
How frequently does it happen, that Christians, who are taught to consider themselves as journeying to a place of everlasting rest, are discouraged by the difficulties they meet with in the way! Sometimes they
* Wisdom xvi.
† John iii. 14. 15.
are even tempted to murmur against Providence, and to despise and undervalue the blessings which are actually in their possession, because they have not every thing they desire. In mercy to them, the Lord sends chastisements upon them, to awaken their minds to a sense of their duty. They confess their sin, and God takes compassion on them; but He does not clear the guilty *. They must, therefore, look up to the Cross of Christ for pardon : the blood, which was shed on that, has made atonement for the sins of the whole world; and nothing farther is required to secure the salvation of each individual, but their own sincere repentance, and a lively faith in God's mercy through CHRIST.
THE AMORITES DESTROYED.
The Israelises continued their marches between the countries of Moab and Ammon, without committing any hostilities ; for such was the will of the LORD. As they were now become patient, God was pleased to afford them a miraculous supply of water from the sandy ground; at length they came to the country of the Amorîtes t; from hence Moses sent ambassadors to Sihon their king, demanding a passage through his dominions, and offering to pay for the supplies he and his people should afford to the Israelites, without giving him the least disiurbance: but Sihon refused, and immediately collected his forces together, to oppose the Israelites. A battle ensued, and the Israelites obtained a complete victory, seized on the country, and killed the king and all the inhabitants. Soon after this, Og the king of Bashan, a man of gigantic stature, in attempting to obstruct their passage, underwent the same fate; for the Israelites took possession of his country, and utterly destroyed the inhabitants, reserving only the cattle and spoil of the cities for themselves.
* Exod. xxxiv, 7.
† Numb. xxi. 21,
We may be certain, that these kings and their subjects were abandoned to wickedness, or the LORD would not have permitted the Israelites to cut them off. God doubtless knew that they would refuse Moses the peaceable terms he offered; but permitted him to propose them, perhaps partly to satisfy the mind of Moses, and partly to shew that the people deserved the fate to. which they were condemned by Divine justice.
When the LORD made a covenant with Abraham, to give to his posterity the country of the Amorites, &c. He told him that they would not be put into pos. session of it till the expiration of four hundred years * ; and
gave for a reason for this delay, that the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full ; meaning that they had not attained to such a lieight of wickedness, as to provoke God to cut them off from the face of the earth :.
therefore conclude, that when the Israelites were allowed to extirpate them, the iniquity of the Amorites was
and that the former were the instruments of Divine vengeance against them. The Israelites had an hereditary right to the land of the Amorites, after the extirpation of these people in virtue of the Divine grant made to Abraham : and their being put in possession of it, was a proof of the truth: of God's promises.