Archive for category Prayer
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.
After a little more than a year camped by Mount Sinai, where they have built a Tabernacle, established a priesthood, entered into a covenant with God, and received the Law of Moses, God prepares Israel to move. The intention is for Israel to soon move into the land of Canaan. A lack of trust in God and fear of the Canaanites will prevent that occurrence until the adult population will pass away.
As soon as the people are moving again the complaining starts again. When they first came out of Egypt, they complained of having no food or water, but after a year where God has miraculously provide these for them, Israel is now longing for the meat and savory vegetables they enjoyed in Egypt. Of course at the same time forgetting the harsh treatment they received from Pharaoh. Isn’t this common for us? When we long for the “good old days” we usually forget the bad parts and remember only the highlights of what life was like. I remember studying about this phenomenon is a psych class in college, there are typical brain functions that account for this, but still God tells us not to say the former days were better than the present. (You can find that in Eccl 7:10) He tells us it is not wise to do so. You see it demonstrated here by Israel over and over during their wanderings in the desert.
This complaining episode is the background story for the establishment of what is referred to as the Sanhedrin Court. God establishes this court with seventy elders that stood with Moses to support him during this trouble.
God provides the meat they were complaining for, but with it comes a plague that kills many. Be careful what you ask for, sometimes you get more than you asked for. This story reminded me of a song by Garth Brooks I heard many years ago, “Thank God for unanswered prayers”
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.
The description of the Tabernacle is quite detailed, though some of the details I’m not familiar with so I can’t picture them well. The size of the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle is about the size of a medium to large home lot today about 150′ x 75′, which would be a little under a quarter of an acre. That doesn’t seem very big to me to serve a nation of millions, of course that could be because as an American I’m influenced by the thinking bigger is better.
The part that interests me the most is the description of the Mercy Seat since Jesus is the propitiation (which means Mercy Seat in some passages). God tells Moses that He will meet him above the Mercy Seat between the Cherubim. I have tried to put myself in the shoes of an Israelite and I wonder what I would have thought about my relationship with God. It seems with God dwelling in the Holy of Holies and only the High Priest being able enter into his presence would have made me feel separated from God. Especially since I would have needed a priest to approach God on my behalf for mercy. And that could be the teaching that Israel was supposed to understand, that they needed a Messiah to allow them to be in God’s presence. The teaching in the book of Hebrews is so critical to understanding God’s great plan. Jesus, our High Priest, has created a path for all believers to follow Him into the Holy of Holies where we can ask God directly for mercy and help when we are in need. That is also why all believers in Christ are priests who serve God and can enter the Tabernacle of God.
Remember to draw near to the Throne of Grace, above the Mercy Seat, to receive help and mercy.
Isaac comforted after Sarah’s death
The last verse in the chapter tells us that Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death by marrying Rebekah. I don’t know if that was a main reason for Isaac marrying at this time, but it was a nice blessing.
The Servants Prayer
A couple of things about the servant’s prayer stand out to me: the first is that the servant asked for guidance, but more specifically that he asked God to answer his prayer a certain way so that he would know the right answer when he saw it. I think it is often difficult to know if something is an answer to prayer or not when we make very general prayers. The second thing I noticed is that he prayed for the right woman to be one who would not only give him a drink of water when he asked, but would also take the time to water his camels as well. This demonstrated a giving nature to Rebekah as well as a willingness to work, after all bringing bucket after bucket up from the well to water camels, who can drink a lot of water, would have been a physically demanding task. I think it shows the wisdom of the servant to know what kind of godly qualities to look for , and the godly character of Rebekah.