miracles of the wilderness journey – allegiance – bronze serpent

Topic: The Miracles of the Wilderness Journey. Allegiance and the Bronze Serpent. Category: Power> The Miracles of the Wilderness Journey>
Bible Scriptures: Exodus 14:10-31 and Exodus 15:22-26.

Listen to the full sermon.


Following on from last week’s episode [The Miracles of the Wilderness Journey – Victory – Identity] we will come to the conclusion of our wilderness journey with the Ancient Israelites and the Eternal One. After the Eternal One had given victory to the Ancient Israelites over their attackers, He exposed the lies and deceptions of those who had given their allegiance to evil, yet said they were His. 

Through the entire wilderness journey the Eternal One continued to be with them. He revealed His glory in a cloud during the day and fire by night. The Eternal One was there with them even in their rebellion and rejection of Him. 

For His heart’s desire was for them to be free and choose life eternal with Him. So He continually pursued in love.

There came a time when all the congregation had to make a choice of who they were to give their allegiance to and worship. For they had come to the border of the promise land. 

A leader from each tribe was sent out as recognisance. To testify of the land that the Eternal One was about to give them. Yet the majority of the congregation chose to permanently reject the Eternal One’s salvation. They said they would rather die in the wilderness than enter into the promised land.

In rejection of the Eternal One and His free gift of salvation, they continued to cause fear and rebellion amongst their own people against the Eternal One. They falsely accused the Eternal One of making their children victims and that He was going to kill them!

Allegiance to the Eternal One

The Eternal One, unlike the gods of the surrounding nations wants all to live, especially the children.

Moses, who chose to give his allegiance to the Eternal One, asks the Eternal One to forgive the people for their abominable false accusations. This is according to the revelation and truth about the Eternal One. As He is great in mercy, the Eternal One had forgiven the Ancient Israelites all through their wilderness journey.

Yet this generation of the Ancient Israelites, refused to receive the Eternal One’s forgiveness. They would not even admit their need for forgiveness. As they continually aligned themselves with the judgement that was upon the gods of Egypt, they continued to falsely accuse the Eternal One and choose death over life with Him.

So let us pick up the story.

Numbers 14:21-25 but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD— because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it. Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valley; tomorrow turn and move out into the wilderness by the Way of the Red Sea.”

false accusations

Numbers 14:26-35 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. Say to them, As I live,’ says the LORD, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in.

But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection.

I the LORD have spoken this. I will surely do so to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.’ ”

So the Ancient Israelites’ days in the wilderness turned into weeks, and weeks into months, and months into years. They received exactly what they chose and declared to be.

allegiance and identity 

Of the original generation that the Eternal One delivered from slavery in Egypt, only Caleb and Joshua, who chose to give their allegiance to the Eternal One, will enter the promised land. They were 2 of the 12 that spied out the promised land and were true witnesses of the Eternal One. They testified of who He is and what He has done and will do. 

History proves that the Eternal One was faithful and true. He gave the next generation the same free choice as their forefathers. They together with Joshua and Caleb, entered into the promised land. 

Let us continue on with the Ancient Israelites and the Eternal One in the wilderness journey. 

That generation continued to reject the Eternal One and those who gave their allegiance to Him. So the Eternal One spoke to Moses saying. 

Numbers 17:2-5 “Speak to the children of Israel, and get from them a rod from each father’s house, all their leaders according to their fathers’ houses—twelve rods. Write each man’s name on his rod. And you shall write Aaron’s name on the rod of Levi. For there shall be one rod for the head of each father’s house. Then you shall place them in the tabernacle of meeting before the Testimony, where I meet with you. And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom; thus I will rid Myself of the complaints of the children of Israel, which they make against you.”

power and authority

The rod of the leader of each tribe represented the power and authority of that tribe. The Eternal One had anointed the tribe of Levi to be priests. 

The priests were to officiate many of the offerings and various purification rituals on behalf of the people. The head of the priesthood had the incredible honour and unique privilege of once a year entering the holiest part of the tabernacle. The place where the Eternal One would reveal Himself intimately and personally. The priest would  burn incense and offer sacrifices on behalf of the people. Engaging with the Eternal One and serving the people.

Numbers 17:6-11 So Moses spoke to the children of Israel, and each of their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses placed the rods before the LORD in the tabernacle of witness.

Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds. Then Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD to all the children of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod.

And the LORD said to Moses, “Bring Aaron’s rod back before the Testimony, to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put their complaints away from Me, lest they die.” Thus did Moses; just as the LORD had commanded him, so he did.

So the Eternal One in His grace and mercy gifted the privilege of attending to the duties of the sanctuary and altar to the tribe of Levi.

to receive and believe

He did all this so that the Ancient Israelites could receive and believe they are forgiven by Him. They simply had to choose to be willing to receive that forgiveness that is always there for them. 

The Eternal One still journeyed with them and continued to reveal Himself to them in ways that they could understand.

Numbers 21:4-9 Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.

Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Remembering that the Eternal One had exposed the lies and deceptions of the gods of Egypt to the Ancient Israelites. Through a series of plagues, He brought judgement upon them.

During the wilderness journey with the Ancient Israelites, the Eternal One provided food and water for them. 

allegiance even in false belief

Again the Ancient Israelites falsely accused the Eternal One. Yet again in the Eternal One in His amazing grace and mercy, again gave the Ancient Israelites an opportunity to align themselves with Him and live. 

The people came to Moses and asked if Moses could pray to the Eternal One for them. Ask the Eternal One on their behalf to take away the fiery serpents that had attacked them.

According to ancient cultures and the mystical beliefs of the surrounding nations, if a replica of the thing that was causing harm was made, that thing would protect them from harm. So the Eternal One instructs Moses to make a bronze serpent. A replica of the very thing that was causing them harm.

Once again the Eternal One reaches down into the depths of their heart and mind. The Eternal One speaks life into death. He reaches down to them in a way they would understand and even through the culture of the time. 

The Eternal One did all this to help the Ancient Israelites believe and receive His forgiveness that is always there. 

As the text states… ‘and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.’

It is important to understand the incredible grace and mercy of the Eternal One. The bronze serpent was a symbol to enable the Ancient Israelites to choose to believe and receive from the Eternal One. The bronze serpent was never an object to be worshipped. It was not what delivered the Ancient Israelites from the fiery serpents. It was the Eternal One who delivered them. Yet again He gave free choice. 

all because He so loves

Everything the Eternal One has done is for humanity. Because He so loves He does everything to help humanity believe and receive His forgiveness and honour that is always there for us. A forgiveness that upon receiving takes away the shame. Enabling us to receive His honour. Knowing and experiencing His great love and choosing to worship only Him.

In receiving the Eternal One and giving total allegiance to Him, we are passed from judgement to honour, from death to life and from darkness to light. 

Sadly the generation of the Ancient Israelites that the Eternal One delivered from slavery in Egypt were not willing to choose to receive Him and give their allegiance to Him. Worship only Him. But in amongst it all, there were individuals and subsequent generations who were willing. 

Through the miracles of the wilderness journey we learn much about the Eternal One. He is the same yesterday today and forever. He brings salvation and freedom, provision and sustenance, victory and identity, forgiveness and honour, life and eternity with Him. 

Out of His great love He gives free choice. He sets before humanity life and death and He urges each one, choose life, choose Him. 


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