Bible 365: Week 5

Sorry for the late post today.  JJ is back to teething again and today has been all about meltdowns.  This is the first free moment I’ve had to sit down and blog.  Anyways, I read the book of Numbers this week.  The children of Israel have been freed from the Egyptians, God has given them the Ten Commandments in addition to the rules and regulations they already had and by now they’ve been journeying to the Promise Land for about two years.
You’d think that after all the miracles God has performed for the Israelites to deliver them from Pharaoh and while they were in the wilderness that they wouldn’t question Him.  However, people back then must have been really hard to convince because the Israelites rebelled a LOT.  And the book of Numbers gives us a glimpse at the ways they tried God’s patience and His mercy.  First, they started to complain about not having meat to eat.
Yes, they had flocks but I guess they didn’t eat the goats or cows because they had also use those animals to make sacrifices and for atonement offerings.  God had been giving the manana out of which they could make bread or a cake similar to our modern day rice cakes.  That clearly was not good enough for them.  So, they all gathered outside of Moses’ tent and complained yet again.  And of course, Moses had already had his doubts about this whole delivering of the Israelites situation.
And after they made that golden calf idol, Moses was just too through with these people. So, he cried out to God saying, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?  I cannot carry these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.  If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now- if I have found favor in your eyes- and do not let me face my own ruin: (Numbers 11:11, 14-15).  
He is beyond at the end of rope and would rather DIE than continue on having to deal with the rebellion, sinning and complaints by this point.  Now, God is pleased to see that once again rather just simply asking for what they want the Israelites have resulted to whining like children and complaining about how God can’t be as powerful as He’s supposed to be because He can’t even give them meat!  Well, God is like ok, you want meat I’ll give y’all some meat.  “You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month-until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it- because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you and have wailed before him, saying ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?’ ” (Numbers 11:19-20)
And give them meat He did.  “Now a wind out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea.  It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction” (Numbers 11:31).  God also put a plague on them.  And you would think that after this nobody else would complain or try to come up against Moses.  Well, his own brother Aaron and his sister in-law, Miriam, get a little jealous that Moses seems to be God’s favorite- a teacher’s pet pretty much.
And they started to talking and trying to plot against him.  Now, Moses probably was God’s favorite.  Numbers 12:3 says “now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”  Anyways, God doesn’t stand for this foolishness and punishes them by giving Miriam leprosy for 7 days and has to live outside of the camp.  Aaron was the high priest and therefore would have been unclean if he had been punished with leprosy.  Being the good person that he is, Moses pleads with God for him to heal her but God is like enough is enough.  She serves her 7 days and that’s that.
Finally, God tells Moses to send out scouts from each of the different tribes to go and explore Canaan aka the Promise Land aka the Land of Milk and Honey.   So, they scouts go and they see that this is indeed the prosperous place that Moses has been telling that God is going to deliver to them because of the convent he made with Abraham and Issac.  However, many of the men get scared because they see how well populated and united the Canaanites are.  Their feat and doubt of God’s ability to to deliver this land into their hands causes them to lie to the Israelites saying, “The land we explored devours those living in it.  All the people we saw there are of great size” (Numbers 13:32).
So, you can only imagine how this made Moses, Aaron and God look.  Joshua and Caleb, who were also scouts, try to call the other men out but the Israelites weren’t trying to hear that.  “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in the this desert!  Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?  Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” Numbers 14:2-3).
I’m sorry but I would not be trying to go back into slavery.  The Egyptians treated them horribly. Anyways, they started debating whether to stone Moses, Aaron, Caleb and Joshua for trying to lead them into a deathtrap.  God is like oh so you trying me again?!  I “will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you [Moses] into a nation greater and stronger than they” (Numbers 14:12).  But Moses intercedes on their behalf asking God not to destroy them.

I think any other leader would have let God have gone through with his original plan and felt relief to be free of the doubters and complainers.  So, rather destroy God decides that none of the men 20 years and up (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) will see or enter the Promise Land.  Instead, they have to wonder around the wilderness for 40 years until the current generations dies off.  Only their children and grandchildren will be allowed to enter Canaan.  And as for those lying scouts, they got their just punishment and were put to death.

This is only half of the drama that goes down in the book of Numbers.  You really have to read it to get a sense of how unappreciative these Israelites were.  At the first glimpse of struggle they turned on God and were ready run back to the enemy.  Maybe, I will post a part two tomorrow.

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