Summary: A simple overview of these two chapters - PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


Death & Failure (chapter 20):

• Death of Miriam (vs 1).

• Failure of Moses & Aaron (vs 2-13).

• Failure of Moses in negotiation (vs 14-21).

• Death of Aaron (vs 28).

Life & Conquest (chapter 21):

• God gives victory (vs 1-3).

• God gives water (vs 10-21).

• God gives healing (vs 4-9).


Note: this is a simple overview and not a verse by verse commentary!


• A man in North Dakota U.S.A. self-penned his own obituary;

• It has been published in his local newspaper;

• And what makes it unique is that it is only two-words long.

• The notice informing people of Douglas Legler's death;

• Simply reads: "Doug died."

• The masterpiece of brevity also featured a photo of the 85-year-old man;

• His daughter Janet Stoll, told the newspaper:

• "He said over and over, when I die I want my obituary to just say 'Doug Died.'"

• And so his wish was granted!


• Regarding death and last words;

• 15 years before his own death, Mahatma Gandhi wrote these words:

• (By the terms he used, he must have been reading, or read “The Pilgrim's Progress.“)

"My days are numbered. I am not likely to live very long - perhaps a year or a little more.

For the first time in fifty years I find myself in the Slough Of Despond.

All about me is darkness; I am praying for light."


• According to those who were near him,

• John Bunyan the author of The Pilgrim's Progress.“

• While struggling with death, his last words were,

“Weep not for me, but for yourselves. I go to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who will, no doubt, through the mediation of his blessed Son,

receive me, though a sinner;

where I hope we before long shall meet, to sing the new song,

and remain everlastingly happy, world without end. Amen.”

• TRANSITION: As we do an overview of these two chapters,

• You will notice the themes death and life flow all the way through them.

• Sadly some people die without hope,

• But the believer always dies in hope!

• Quote: Martin Luther King Jr.: “Death for the believer is a reward!”

• (American clergyman and civil rights leader and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize):

Death & Failure (chapter 20):

• This chapter (20) starts with the death of Miriam,

• Verse 1:

“In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.”

• This chapter closes with the death of Aaron,

• Verse 28:

“Moses removed Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar. And Aaron died there on top of the mountain.”

• So this chapter opens and closes with two deaths;

• And in between these two bookends of death;

• We have the sin of Moses and the sin of Edom,

• So at first glance it is not the most cheerful of chapters,

• It is a chapter of death and failure!


• It is an important chapter because it marks the end of forty years of wandering;

• For the Children/People of Israel.

• And it is the beginning of marching, positively moving forward.

• Chapters 14 to 20 of this book,

• Is the only section that deals with the forty years of wandering in the wilderness.

• Forty years of going nowhere fast, forty years of going around in circles.


• One of God’s little creatures is a special Caterpillar,

• What makes this caterpillar different to all other caterpillars;

• Is its instinct to follow the one in front, they literally line-up head to tail,

• If you were to gaze casually at them;

• You might think that they were joined or locked together.

• This unusual behaviour gives the caterpillar its name,

• It is called the Processional Caterpillar.

• The 18th early nineteenth century botanist Jean Henri Fabre`

• Once saw some of these caterpillars and tried and completed a famous experiment.

• Leaving no gaps, he lined them up in a big circle;

• And got them to march around the base of a stone pot,

• He wanted to see what they would do.

• For almost a week these caterpillars went around and around in circles,

• All foolishly following the one in front of them;

• They were using a lot of energy but they were going nowhere fast!

• TRANSITION: Just like the Children/People of Israel;

• Going around in circles and getting nowhere fast!

• The journey from Egypt to Canaan, was an 11-DAY journey!

• These people took 40 YEARS to get there!

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