Archive for category Intercession
Israel demonstrated their fear of men and dying, but they did not have a proper fear of God. They worried more about what might happen to their flesh rather than what God could do to their spirit. So they grumbled and complained when they were hungry and afraid, but did not respect the awesome power of God enough to honor Him and do what He commanded.
In this section of Numbers, 3 men along with 250 leaders of Israel oppose Moses’ and Aaron’s authority. They claim Moses and Aaron have taken their positions by their own power. However they were opposing God, not men. God demonstrates this to the nation by opening the earth to swallow up the households of the three men who lead the opposition and burning up the 250 men who followed them.
After witnessing the destruction of the rebellious men, what does the rest of the nation do? Why naturally they rebel themselves (sarcasm). This episode demonstrates, more than just about any other, the rebellious character of the adult Israelites who came out of Egypt. But even with Israel opposing Moses and Aaron, they made incense offerings to save the people. Finally, after 14,700 people died, the people finally realize they will die if they approach the Tabernacle of God and are willing to submit to the ministry of the priests.
How often have we rebelled against the commands of God yet we were not destroyed as we deserved, but instead we received grace because of the love of God and the offering of Jesus.
Jealousy comes out of Miriam and Aaron, it says because of Moses wife, a Cushite, which if memory serves correctly is from the area of Ethiopia. However, it appears the real issue is over Moses authority as a prophet of God. God tells Aaron and Miriam that the interaction between other prophets was different from that with Moses. Normally prophets received a message from God to speak, but with Moses God and he had conversations, back and forth communication, where Moses would plead with God to change His mind on occasion. How ironic they were reminded of this not long before Moses will have to plead with God to not kill Israel because of their refusal to enter the promised land due to their fear of the Canaanites. It’s funny that Miriam is the only one struck with leprosy, after we are told she and Aaron were rebuking Moses, maybe it’s because she was the instigator and Aaron was the follower as he also seems to be in the golden calf incident. She also had to be separated from the camp for 7 days while Aaron was not.
After the 12 spies return, 10 give a terrifying report of the land and 2 give a good report. Yes it was good, but 10 said the people were too strong for Israel to overcome them, they are discounting God’s ability to fight for them and this is just a little over a year after God freed them from Egypt, who was a stronger military power than any in Canaan. Joshua and Caleb also said the land was good and the people were mighty, but they could do it because God was with them. Of course the people of Israel sided with the 10 faithless spies and continued to reveal the faithless character of the majority of Israel. God wants to kill them and start over making a great nation with Moses. Moses pleads with God for Israel and God relents, but He makes them stay in the desert until that generation of adults died. Also the 10 unfaithful spies were struck down by a plague. I often wonder if God spoke to Moses about wanting to kill Israel, so Moses would act as a mediator on behalf of the people. Whether that was God’s plan all along I don’t know but it still serves as an example of Christ acting as our mediator, who has given his own blood to plead the case for our forgiveness.
So much happens in these chapters, but the Golden Calf, made by Aaron approximately a month after Israel agrees to make no idols, highlights the nature of Israel. They appear to be ruled by the emotion of the moment, especially when it comes to fear, even their agreement to God’s covenant came after they were terrified by hearing God speak from Mount Sinai. They make the golden calf after Moses has been gone for too long by their measure.
God’s anger with Israel is expressed and we hear God describe the people for the first time as stiff-necked, which carries the idea of stubborn or rebellious. But God tells Moses he wants to destroy them and make Moses a great nation, prompting Moses to intercede on behalf of Israel. This is clearly a foreshadow of what Christ will do for all people who will trust him and come to him on the holy mountain. It’s a good thing Moses pleaded with God before he witnessed what they were doing or he might have agreed to kill them. His anger burned so hot he broke the two tablets of stone on which God had written the covenant. Unfortunately for Moses God will require him to make new stone tablets that God will write on a second time, giving Israel a chance to repent from breaking the covenant. Israel will continually break the covenant with God throughout their history, the story of the prophet Hosea will show to Israel what they have been like to God, a wife that continually is unfaithful yet her husband will show mercy and bring her back.
The glow of Moses face after witnessing the glory of God passing by him apparently does not fade away, it will glow like that for the entire 40 years in the desert which I usually forget when reading about him later on.