Archive for October 28th, 2011

Numbers 14

Numbers 14 is full of lessons for us.  In the last chapter the 12 spies had returned – all but Caleb said that the land was filled with obstacles that would prevent them from taking it.  Only one, and in this chapter a second – Joshua son of Nun – said they should proceed to take what God had promised them.  Not because of their might, but because of God.  The people “wept that night….all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron”.  The nature of humankind – weep and grumble when things are not going the way we want them to.  They take it further and begin to ask questions like this: “Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt”?  And then the real stupid thought: “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt”.

Things aren’t going as they like, and bad attitudes sweep the camp.  People second guess their leaders and want to replace them and head back to slavery where at least they lived in safety.  Oh how short memories are.  Joshua and Caleb go before the people and remind them of the facts: “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them”.  It is a great land, and they have a great God who has led them faithfully and cared for them completely.  But the people respond by wanting to stone them.  God is not humored.

How long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them”?  God has had it.  He is ready to send a plague and wipe out the entire bunch.  Then we see one of the traits of a great leader – Moses intercedes.  He pleads with God: “pardon the iniquity of this people”.  Not because they deserved it – they didn’t.  Not because they were supporting him – they weren’t.  But Moses intercedes because he loves his people and knows they need him to step up.  And God listened.  God responded: “I have pardoned, according to your word”.  That is a picture of effective intercession – when we stand between God and another and plead for them.  God honors that kind of prayer.  The results are not without impact.  God is still very disappointed and says “none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers”.  There is a price for disobedience and a failure to have faith.  Only Joshua and Caleb and those under the age of 20 will ever enter the promised land, but Moses has averted destruction for his people through his leadership and intercession.

God’s punishment is to “be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness”.  Long price to pay for failing to believe.  Remember it was 11 who went and returned with a bad report.  The issue for all the rest was they believed the bad information.  Never think you can point a finger and get off the hook.  We are responsible for what we choose to believe.  Those who caused this to happen had a more immediate result. “And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land – the men who brought up a bad report of the land – died by plague before the Lord”.  They were dead very quickly for their disbelief.  Once God had spoken directly and told them they were still going to take the Promised Land – albeit 40 years from now – the people decided they should just go ahead and move on in now.  Moses warned them they would not succeed.  But of course they hadn’t listened before, so why start now.  So they went in and were defeated and pursued.  Another example of not following leadership and reaping very bad results.  God uses people to lead.  We need to learn to discern where His hand is resting and follow there!

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