Like Miriam and Aaron in Numbers 20
, it is likely that many of the Israelites died during the thirty-eight years of dwelling in the wilderness. The Lord said, however, that all who were over twenty years old at the beginning of the exodus (except for Joshua and Caleb, who gave positive reports of the promised land) would die before the camp of Israel entered the promised land. Numbers 21
records an incident where many more died. This story is especially significant because it involves a type of Christ—the brass serpent. Because an entire generation of Israelites would not look upon the serpent, they died physically and spiritually and were denied entrance into the promised land. This event appears to have separated those whose faith was weakest from those whose faith was strong, because the rest of Numbers 21
tells how the Israelites conquered those who opposed them and successfully moved toward the promised land. When the Israelites were stronger in faith, they had much more success.