Numbers 21:1-9

Talks for Growing Christians

The Bronze Serpent Lifted Up on a Pole in the Wilderness

Numbers 21:1-9

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Lesson Number 26

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Lifting up the bronze serpent is a picture of substitution.
  2. Looking at the bronze serpent is a picture of salvation. a. It was the only way to be healed. b. Looking at the bronze serpent did not involve human works. c. God’s way of healing in the wilderness was available to everyone, but only effective to the individuals that looked.

Practical Application

  1. Look and live.


  1. Why did the King of Arad think that he would be victorious fighting against the Israelites?
  2. Why did the Israelites receive the victory this time?
  3. Why are the children of Israel complaining again in this chapter?
  4. How did God punish the people for complaining?
  5. What way did God provide for the people to be saved from the serpent bites?


  1. Because almost forty years earlier the Israelites had been defeated by the Amalekites and the Canaanites.
  2. Previously they wrongly tried to enter the Land in their own strength. This time they sought the Lord, and He heard their prayer.
  3. Because they traveled the long way around Edom and became tired and discouraged.
  4. He sent fiery serpents into their midst.
  5. He directed Moses to construct a bronze serpent and raise it up on a pole. Whoever looked to the bronze serpent would be saved from the poison and would not die.


  1. The principle, “Like father, like son,” can be seen in this chapter. The previous generation of Israelites had been punished for complaining, and here we see their children complaining against the Lord as well. Discuss the way children grow up to imitate their parents, both for good and bad. How can you begin a new pattern with your family?
  2. Discuss the bronze serpent as a wonderful type of the Lord Jesus as our sin-bearer on the cross. List the many parallels and lessons about the doctrine of salvation.


  1. Have you looked to the Lord Jesus Christ as your only means of salvation? Trusting in Christ’s death for your sins is the only way for you to have eternal life. Look and live.

Key Verses

  • “And the LORD listened to the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites.” Numbers 21:3
  • “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.” Numbers 21:7
  • “If a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” Numbers 21:9

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