Archive for category Rebellion
Even though Balaam could not curse Israel, he did the next best thing as far as the enemies of Israel were concerned. He taught Midian and Moab to go to war using seduction and idolatry instead of direct conflict. This story should hit all of us as coming straight from Satan’s playbook. If our faith in God can’t be defeated by direct argument, then Satan will help us fall using our own desires against us.
The women of Midian that entice Israel into idolatry and sexual immorality may be Temple prostitutes that practice sex in their rituals to Baal. You will notice the passage says the sexual immorality happened after the women had invited the men to participate in their sacrifices to their gods. They practiced sexual activity as sacrifices and offerings to their gods, especially this god which was a fertility god.
The response from God and Israel against Midian sometimes troubles people, but the planned attack on Israel by Midian was warfare of a different type and it caused 24,000 people in Israel to die. The response may seem harsh to us, but we don’t understand , as God does, the consequences of little or no action. Every action or lack of action has consequences that is impossible for us to foresee. But God has demonstrated he knows how to deliver his people, especially in Egypt.
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.
I’m a little surprised that Moses was told to ask only for Israel to go and worship the LORD when clearly God wants to bring Israel out to settle in Canaan.
Pharaoh was unusually stubborn, I can’t imagine refusing to let Israel go even after their livestock died and Israel’s did not. Pharaoh thinks he can make some kind of deal with God as if it were a negotiation rather than a call to obey. Don’t people often do the same thing? Wanting to practice only the parts of scripture they want to and avoid the parts they don’t. God is all or nothing, either we submit and practice the commandments of God or not.
When I imagine the darkness described in the 9th plague, I remember when I was locked into a solitary cell at Alcatraz Island while on a school field trip, it seemed like I could feel the darkness, it was eerie.
God tells us the reason for the plagues, to tell their descendants about them that they would know the power of God.