Archive for category Leadership
About one month prior to Moses’ death he begins to address the nation. The book of Deuteronomy contains the final words of Moses to Israel, it recounts much of their history from the prior 40 years. This makes great sense, when you think about it. This generation consisted of people who were children when the Exodus started or were born in the desert, they probably did not have a clear understanding of their place in God’s promise to Abraham or why they wandered in the desert for so long. Moses is giving them a clear understanding of their purpose.
They have a unique place in history, what other nation has God spoken to directly? The mighty acts God performed in Egypt stand as an everlasting testament to the call of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He urges them to keep the commandments God has given them. If they and we truly understood the nature of the commandments we should want to do them. They are not given for God’s sake but ours. When we walk by them we are blessed. When we walk by our own understanding we bring sorrow to our life.
I did not remember that Moses asked God to appoint a successor to himself. Moses said without a leader that Israel would be like sheep without a shepherd. Clearly Moses doesn’t see great strength or determination in the nation. I think he is proven right by the fact that Israel will do what is right only as long as Joshua and the elders of this time were alive. That information comes in the beginning of the book of Judges.
Reuben and Gad ask Moses for the land east of the Jordan River as their inheritance. Moses’ accuses them of doing the same thing as their fathers when the spies came back with their report of Canaan, saying they were discouraging the people from entering the land. Isn’t this also an accusation that they might be afraid to go fight? Reuben and Gad say they will go fight before coming back to settle in the land. After Moses tells them they can have the land we find out half of Manasseh wants to live in the east as well. Moses tells them there will be three cities of refuge in their lands east of the Jordan. I wonder if this caused the number of cities of refuge to increase from 3 to 6 in total. There are three on the west side of the Jordan.
This is a short reading about the second census God required of Israel. Much of it may seem uninteresting with lists of names and numbers, but what I find really fascinating is the total numbers are essentially the same for Israel and Levi after a generation has died in the desert. It is almost like everything was put on hold for 40 years until another generation, who would be more faithful could enter the Promised land under roughly the same circumstances, i.e. the same size army and same size Priesthood. There is even more evidence for that later when Joshua will have to have all the males of this generation circumcised at Gilgal because Israel was not doing it during their wanderings.
Two exceptions are mentioned from the previous generation that will enter the land, Caleb and Joshua, the two spies who urged Israel to enter Canaan as God commanded. Joshua will become the Next leader of Israel succeeding Moses. He will lead them in battle against the Canaanites conquering all the armies of the land and bringing Israel into the Promised land. Caleb who will conquer the city of Hebron, later to be David’s capital city during his first 7 years ruling over Judah.
The part of today’s reading that struck me is the story of Moses and Aaron providing water for Israel at Kadesh. Not the story itself, I remember the basics pretty well, Moses and Aaron are frustrated by the people and their constant grumbling and complaining. When the people complain again about no water, Moses hits the rock God told him to speak to. I think most of us can relate to Moses frustration because of kids, parents, work, etc.. One thing I did not remember about this incident is that it happened in the last year they were in the desert. But, that’s not the thing I found so interesting today.
I was struck by how far above us God is, and it emphasizes that God shows no partiality. Moses, we could argue, is one of the two or three most godly people to live, yet he was overcome by his anger and frustration then he displayed pride and arrogance towards Israel. When we puff ourselves up we usually do it in opposition to other people, but the reality is we puff up against God as Moses did. When God punished Moses and Aaron, he says they lacked trust (or faith) in Him and they did not honor God as holy. Even though we might not have seen this incident as a big deal, God held Moses accountable for his sin, and this ought to remind us of what James writes in chapter 3:1, that teachers shall receive a stricter judgment. Spiritual leaders need to be especially aware of anger, frustration and pride creeping into their thoughts as they work with many people like Israel, spiritually immature, often lacking faith and godliness. It is easy to fall into the trap of seeing ourselves as more important or better than others. I think it is the most common sin and temptation for spiritually mature people, PRIDE. And we need reminding that God is Great and Awesome, provides for all, loves all, desiring that all would come to repentance. We are not great if we become spiritually mature, God is great because we are His workmanship.
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.
Not long after the priests, Aaron and his sons, were appointed to serve the Tabernacle Nadab & Abihu were killed by fire from the LORD. They put fire in their censors that was different from what God had commanded, the literal meaning of the Hebrew word is that it was common. It is sometimes speculated that Nadab and Abihu were drunk when they did this because of the command God gives just after this incident to Aaron and his other sons. God commanded just after this that the priests were not to drink any alcohol when they go into the Tabernacle.
Because Aaron was the High Priest and serving the Tabernacle he was not allowed to mourn by tearing his clothes or any other outward sign of grief. How difficult it must have been for Aaron to go on living as if nothing happened. Especially when you remember that God did not deliver such a harsh punishment when Aaron made a golden calf for Israel to worship and lied about how it was created.
I know the main points of the story of Moses’ well, he was born, hidden and put in a basket in the Nile river, found by a daughter of Pharaoh, nursed by his own mother until weaned, then raised up as an Egyptian in Pharaoh’s household, but there are certain parts of the story I don’t often think about. For instance, I know Moses’s saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and killed him, and then he had to flee to the land of Midian so Pharaoh would not execute him. However this wasn’t some rash fit of anger by Moses’, he looked around to make sure no one was watching then killed the man and hid his body. Think about this, if some man was hitting you and then another appeared and killed the first man, who would you be more afraid of? That’s why the Hebrew man doesn’t see Moses as a protector but is afraid of him.
It seems that God spoke to Aaron before calling Moses from the burning Bush even though it’s recorded after. I say that because God said to Moses that Aaron was already on his way to meet Moses.
Why didn’t Moses circumcise his son? Why did God meet Moses to kill him after calling him to go to Egypt to free his people?