God sent judgment upon the Israelites as they complained against God and Moses yet another time after God gave them a major victory over their enemies.
4 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. 5 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.” 6 So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. 7 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. 8 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.” 9 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. Numbers 21:4-9
Jesus references this episode in the historical account of the wanderings of the people of Israel found in Numbers when explaining to Nicodemus the way of salvation in John chapter 3.
14 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:14-18
Notice that the Israelites confessed their sin and asked Moses to pray for them. God instructed Moses to make a fiery serpent, set it on a pole, and then tell the people of Israel to look at the serpent and be saved. God, once again demonstrated His mercy, love and forgiveness to His wayward children. In the same way, sinners who confess their sin, turn from sin and believe in Jesus Christ are saved from the judgment of God in hell. Just as there were Israelites who died after being bitten by the fiery serpents, there will be those who will refuse to repent and believe in Jesus Christ and so will perish in hell.
In Second Peter chapter three, Peter writes about the return of Jesus Christ and says the supposed delay is due to God’s mercy.
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9
In Ezekiel chapter 18 after the prophet has warned the people of Israel to turn from sin to live, and exhorted those who were righteous to continue in righteousness so they would not be judged, God expresses His heart toward the rebellious.
30 “Therefore I will judge you. O house of Israel, everyone according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of the one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” Ezekiel 18:30-32
God wants all to turn from their sin and turn to Him so they may have eternal life. The Father in Heaven wants all to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus Christ, placing their faith in Him as their Lord and Savior.
Twice in both the first and second chapters of 1 Timothy Paul reveals the mercy and grace that God has in store for sinners who turn to Him and turn from their sin.
12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:12-17
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle-I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying-a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-7
This comports exactly with what Jesus said in Matthew the eleventh chapter:
27 “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:27-30
God has said in so many different ways that His will and desire is for sinners to repent and place their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior so they may have eternal life and be saved from God’s just judgment in hell. Those who repent of their sin and believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and rose again from the dead have eternal life.
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,”… Acts 3:19
So dear sinner, will you heed the call and repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ? His mercy and grace given to us in the gospel, the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins and His resurrection from the dead, are sufficient to save the most wretched sinner. Won’t you trust your loving Savior and Lord Jesus Christ? God bless you.