Are you a movie person?
Some people can’t stand movies because they’re too long. I get it. Two hours is a huge commitment for something that might not even be good.
Still, I love movies. I love a good story, a good journey, a good message. I like to learn about the experience of someone I might never have met otherwise. I like to feel for someone or something other than me.
And, if I do say so myself, I know a good movie when I see one. And Numbers 21 plays out just like a feel-good movie.
Every good movie has a few elements in common. First, you have a main character. And every main character has a goal – some thing they want to accomplish or stop or win by the end. As the main character goes after their goal, they always experience a setback. Something happens. They fail in some way. The audience starts to worry.
But never fear, because our main character will always receive some tidbit of information, some truth that will be just what they need to accomplish their goal.
And just in time for the montage! Grinning, we watch the main character gain a whole bunch of Ws armed with their new information.
And then, finally, right at the end, comes the boss battle. This is where the main character faces up against the final obstacle standing between them and their goal. It’s showtime. It’s here where the tidbit is most valuable, saving the main character at the last minute.
Can you spot all of these elements in Numbers 21?
The Main Character
The Israelites. Duh. They do a lot in this chapter because it’s almost time for them to reach the Promised Land. That’s their goal – to get closer to the Promised Land and destroy the wicked nations that stand in their way.
The Israelites doubt God’s power, so He shows them His power. They start complaining for the 5,634th time about having no water and no food. He sends poisonous snakes into their camps, and people began to die from their bites.
But then the Israelites repent. So God tells Moses to set up another snake, this one made of bronze. He tells the Israelites that if they looked at the snake, they would be healed.
And they were.
And what a difference that healing made. From verse 10 all the way down to verse 20, the Israelites get closer and closer to the Promised Land. They even sing a song when God gives them water in a place called Beer (verses 16-17)!
The Boss Battle
But the closer the Israelites get to the Promised Land, the closer they get to the biggest obstacle in their way – Sihon king of the Amorites.
We don’t really know this king. But if you look up ‘Amorites’ or ‘Sihon’ in a Bible concordance, you will see them mentioned over and over again. They were no joke.
Sihon was rich. He had soldiers as far as the eye could see. He had a strong, established kingdom.
They were feared.
They were warriors.
They were obstacles.
Imagine the scene. Sihon and all his mighty soldiers lined up in the wilderness, facing down a bunch of former slaves. The soldiers’ armor is shiny, impermeable. Their ranks are perfectly straight lines. The Israelites’ don’t have any fancy armor. The background music is just ominous drum beats. An overhead shot shows just how ridiculous this fight is.
All is silent…
A battle cry!!
The Israelites and the Amorites fight. At first, it looks like the scrappy wanderers are losing badly.
But then the well-prepared, intimidating Amorite soldiers begin to fall.
Soldier after soldier, rank after rank topple and fall as the Israelites advance and advance and advance!
“Israel captured all the cities of the Amorites and occupied them, including Heshbon and all its surrounding settlements.” (verse 25)
They defeated them. They destroyed their enemies. They obliterated their obstacle.
The music swells.
Coming Soon To a Theater Near You
We almost forgot. One of the most important elements of a good movie – the tidbit. What was it? When did the Israelites receive their tidbit?
In verse 9, when Moses put up the bronze snake, anyone who was bitten by a real snake looked at it, and they survived.
Did you catch it?
All they had to do was look. All they had to do was believe, and they were saved.
That was the tidbit.
All it takes is faith as small as a mustard seed, faith enough to glance at God and believe and hope against hope that He will save us, and He will. No questions asked. No tests to pass or hoops to jump through. Just a glance. That’s all it takes.
That faith took the Israelites through land after land, fed them when they were hungry, gave them water when they were thirsty, and toppled two of the greatest kingdoms they had ever known.
God’s Message To Us: “I want to show you something.”
This movie is not like other movies. It was exhilarating and action-packed, sure. It had us on the edges of our seats, yes. But it’s not the kind of movie you forget about in a day or two. This movie is relevant. It’s current. It makes you think. And it’s still not over.
It’s not over because God has something He wants to do in each and every life that exists on this planet. No exceptions. No forgotten characters. No unnecessary side plots. He has something for e v e r y o n e.
We all just want to be happy. But our lives are filled with setbacks and obstacles and pain and shame and trauma.
Meanwhile, God has so much planned. He wants us to reach people. He wants us to do great things for Him. He wants us to travel places, see things, overcome, and experience the sweetest victory He has to offer.
The key to all of this is that little tidbit – faith. Believe. Trust. Just take a glance at God, and believe He’s looking back at you, accepting you, healing you, and preparing you for your montage and your boss battle.
The camera is rolling. We’re in the middle of our movies. Will you take a look?
What do you think? What will God do in your life? Share this if you are ready to look at Jesus in faith.