Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Feb 17, Num 14-15

Today's readings are Num 14-15.

In Num 13, the spies came back from the Promised Land with tales of a dangerous land populated by giants (Num 13:32-33).

Amazingly, in Num 14:1-4, the same people who watched the plagues fall upon the Egyptians while they remained untouched, who saw the waters of the Red Sea part, who crossed the Red Sea on dry land only to see it close in upon the Egyptian army and drown them, the people who saw water come from a rock, the glory of God descend upon Mt Sinai, then the tabernacle—those same people--now fear the report of the spies and doubt the promises of God to give them the land. To make matters worse, they cry out their desire to return to Egypt.

Look at their situation carefully. The congregation has neither seen the giants for themselves nor directly experienced any danger. They have only heard the report of the spies. From the very moment they left Egypt up to this point, the only thing they have directly experienced has been the blessing and protection of God. Now, they hear a report that tells them little more than the armor they brought out of Egypt will be put to good use. Instead of trusting that God is with them and has equipped them for battle, they react in fear and trepidation. Furthermore, upon hearing the reports, the congregation begins acting in an astoundingly ungodly manner.

There’s a profound lesson in here for us. In a day when all manner of information comes to us via questionable sources, most of it designed to alarm the church and/or the general population, we would do well to verify the facts in light of Scripture, check our hearts in light of God’s holiness and bite our tongues before we repeat spurious information that may needlessly alarm, antagonize or at the very least, misinform others.

In Num 14:5-12, in return for Israel’s lack of faith, we learn another lesson on the necessity of a mediator between God and His people. Notice, Moses’ successful appeal is founded on the integrity of God’s name and reputation, not the worthiness of the people (Num 14:13-19).

God relents but there is a real-world price to pay for their rebellion and ungratefulness. Israel will wander in the desert until the entire generation of men twenty and older, except for Joshua and Caleb, dies (Num 14:26-35). Some try to take the land anyway (Num 14:39-45). They are defeated. Without God and His blessing, they are powerless. It’s a good lesson for all of us.

Num 15:1-31 is even more amazing, particularly in light of the events in Num 14. God gives instructions as to what sacrifices they are to make when He ushers His people into the Promised Land! Their punishment is real but God's promises are not negated! He is faithful, even when His children are not.

We see a sobering reminder that Israel’s punishment has neither separated them from God nor abrogated His rules for holiness among his people (Num 15:32-36).

God graciously gives them a reminder of His commandments by telling them to add tassels to their garments (Num 15:37-41). The tassels are a constant reminder to follow the word of God rather than their feelings. To the Jew, the sight of the tassel will bring to mind the time they reacted to their situation and their fears rather than the promises of God. 

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