Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Numbers- Chapter 14

Numbers 14

-The people received the bad report and neglected the good report of Caleb and Joshua as we see in this pivotal chapter in the wilderness wanderings of Israel, which has great significance for the Christian walk. Weeping, crying, and mourning lasted through the night after the spies’ report was given. The people grumbled against their God-given leaders, Moses and Aaron. They wished they would have died in the land of Egypt, or in the wilderness already, because their hope was basically lost on the fear of man. They dreaded falling by the sword to a superior earthly foe with their wives and children becoming plunder. It got to the point that they were deciding on appointing another leader to make a return to Egypt, if you can imagine that considering all that the LORD had demonstrated through Moses and Aaron (Numbers 14:1-4). At this juncture, Moses and Aaron fell prostrate on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the sons of Israel. Joshua, one of the spies and protégé of Moses (Numbers 13:8; 11:28), spoke up and declared, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them (Numbers 14:5-9).”

-Instead of this being a great motivational speech that propelled them into a full out effort to take the Promised Land with the LORD’s backing, the disgruntled people wanted to rise up and stone them with stones. At that exact moment, the LORD’s glory appeared in the tent of meeting before all the sons of Israel. God’s words are precise and test the moxie of Moses, His ordained leader, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they (Numbers 14:10-12).” Moses argued with the LORD on behalf of this wayward people, which the LORD in His omniscience foresaw. Moses reasoned that the Egyptians would hear of this travesty and deny the power of the LORD to oversee the completion of His call and desires for His people in total. Moses prays that the power of the LORD be great, just as He had previously declared before all. He echoes the familiar and reoccurring theme of the Scriptures, “The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations (Psalm 103:8-13; 145:8, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2, Nahum 1:3).” He humbly asked for a pardon on behalf of his people for God’s sake because of His greatness and lovingkindness. He also acknowledged all their sin and the forgiveness God had given them up to this point too (Numbers 14:13-19).

-Then, the LORD pardoned them according to Moses’ petition. He further stated that as sure as He is alive that “all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD (Numbers 14:20-21).” He rebuked the children of Israel who put Him to the test the ten times and did not listen whole heartedly to His Voice. He promised that they would not see the land which He swore to their fathers. The ones that spurned Him would have no part in the Promised Land themselves. However, His servant Caleb, who had a different spirit and followed Him fully, would be brought into the land, and his descendants were guaranteed to take possession of it. Then He told the people to be warned that the Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valley, and that they would need to turn the next day and set out to the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea (Numbers 14:22-25).

-After these things, the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron asking how long should He bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Him. He fully hears and understands the complaints of the people against Him. He again reiterates that the numbered men’s corpses of those who grumbled against the LORD would fall in the wilderness to their complete number from twenty years old and upward. The only ones who would be allowed to enter the Promised Land would be Caleb and Joshua, because of their different faith and obedience. Further, the children who were feared to be the prey of the enemy would indeed be brought into the Promised Land by the mighty Hand of God. These would know the land that their fathers had rejected in doubt and fear. The fathers would labor as shepherds in the wilderness for 40 years, a year for each day of their spy mission. They would know God’s opposition for insubordination and lack of trust. The LORD had spoken, and He would uphold His prophetic word. As for the men who delivered the bad report, even those who brought out the very bad report, they died by a plague before the LORD. But Joshua and Caleb remained alive out of the men who went to spy out the land. I’m sure this did much to ensure the fear of God among the camp of Israel.

-Despite all that had happened, and after the people mourned greatly, the next morning they devised a plan on their own apart from Almighty Yahweh to go up and conquer the place which the LORD had promised. They acknowledged their sin, and proceeded without the authority of God on their side. Moses told them plainly that the plan would not succeed and that they were transgressing the commandment of the LORD in regards to this matter. Nevertheless, they ventured carelessly into battle with the Amalekites and the Canaanites. As Moses prophetic words predicted, they fell by the sword before their enemies on the ridge of the hill country. Neither the ark of the covenant nor Moses left the camp for this errant battle, and the Israelites were struck down and beaten all the way back to Hormah (Numbers 14:39-45). So, instead of heeding the LORD’s command to go back to the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea for safety, they were dismantled in a rebellious array of self-pride and degradation (Numbers 14:25).

-*Application* Here in this example we see that sometimes the will of the LORD is dependent upon our faith response to His call upon our lives. Obedient follow-up to the things God is calling you to do will bring blessing. On the other hand, rebelling, groaning, complaining, doubt, and fear will more than often bring about another result. God can delay and even deny our blessing that He has chosen for us when we don’t trust Him to take care of situations in our lives, even when they may seem impossible. God is all-powerful, and He can easily fulfill His word to you. Believe Him to do all things well and walk with a different spirit than the world, like Caleb and Joshua.

Verse to Memorize: Numbers 14:8

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