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“ I will be an enemy to thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries d;” and they attempted to stone Joshua and Caleb, who avowed their confidence in the Lord, and who exhorted the people not to be dismayed. For this want of faith, added to their other tokens of distrust in Him, GoD declared that none of the people (excepting Caleb and Joshua and the little ones of the Israelites) should enter the promised land 8. Moses interceded with God in behalf of the people in this instance, and God said, “I have pardoned according to thy word b;' but He, nevertheless, would not permit them to enter the land of Canaan ; His pardon, therefore, appears to have referred to a future state of being ; so that they were allowed to entertain hopes of heavenly rest, although the rest in Canaan was denied to them.
Thus the people forfeited their inheritance in the land of Canaan by wanting faith ; and because Moses, the deliverer of the people, impatiently smote the rock twice when he sought to bring water from it for the people', therefore the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, “ Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given themk."
d Exod. xxiii. 22.
s Numb. xiv. 22, 31.
" And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not ?. So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief'.” And if we are dismayed by difficulties which oppose us ; if we are not strong in faith, saying with Caleb and Joshua, “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome itm" “ the Lord is with us, fear them not ";" if we are “ wearied and faint in our minds o,” we shall be refused admittance into the heavenly Canaan, we shall not share that rest which remaineth for. the people of GoDP. “ Let us labour, therefore, to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
The Israelites afterwards, repenting of their folly in refusing to go into Canaan, determined (notwithstanding the declaration of the Deity that they should perish in the wilderness) to go up and take possession of that land". But Moses said unto them, “ It shall not prosper ; go not up, for the Lord is not among you." “ But they presumed to go up unto the hill top; nevertheless, the ark of the covenant of the Lord and Moses, departed not out of the camp.
k Numb. xx. 12.
p Hebr. iv. 9.
Numb. xiv. 41, 42.
Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them t.". Thus we are directed to “ seek the Lord while He may be found u.” 66 for now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation w” “ to-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts *.” For, if we provoke the long suffering of our Redeemer, He may say unto us, as He said to the Pharisees, “ I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins; whither I go ye cannot comey." And, if we attempt to gain admission into the heavenly Canaan under any other protection than that of the ark of His covenant ; if, after rejecting His gracious offers of salvation, we endeavour to take possession of that better country by our own strength and by our own efforts, we also shall be smitten and discomfited ; for our spiritual enemies will prevail against us, and will exclude us from that land of rest.
When the Israelites murmured against God and against Moses, they were plagued with “ fiery serpents” which “ bit the people, and much people of Israel died.” And the people confessed their sin, and they desired Moses to intercede with God in their behalf.” And Moses
+ Numb. xiv. 44, 45.
* Psalm xcv. 7. Hebr. iv. 7.
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 livedz." Christ spake of this brazen serpent as being a figure of himself: “ As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The fiery serpents which bit the Israelites, represented those spiritual enemies of mankind b over whom Christ has enabled his followers to triumph: “I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” The “ fiery serpents” were figures of the “ fiery trialsd” to which man is exposed ; under which trials, we are directed to look
unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faithe.” “ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth f.” The brazen serpent destroyed the power of all the “fiery serpents,"
z Numb. xxi. 5–9.
di Peter, iv. 12.
as the rod of Aaron swallowed up all the serpents of the magicians 8. Under the figure of the brazen serpent *, Christ displayed his victory over Satan, " that old serpent”;” for the elevation of that brazen serpent upon a pole, represented the crucifixion of Christ, who, by His death, destroyed “ him that had the power of death, that is, the devili.”
The Israelites in the wilderness, then, afforded, in every particular, a representation of man in the wilderness of this world, a stranger and pilgrim on the earth, seeking a country ; and their history during their wanderings, is adopted by the Psalmist as a figure of our pilgrimage. The Gospel was preached unto them, “ but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." “ Now these things were our examples [were types to us], to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Nei
8 Exod. vii. 12.
* This “ brazen serpent” was preserved until the time of Hezekiah, king of Judah, who brake it in pieces, because the people did burn incense to it'. They worshipped the symbol instead of Him whom it represented. Thus the brazen serpent was preserved 726 years; and in the same number of years after its destruction, Christ appeared on earth.
1 2 Kings, xviii. 4.
h Rev. xx. 2. i Hebr. ii. 14.
* Psalm cvii.