September 3

Numbers 12:1-15:21

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

God, you have so much better planned out for us. Forgive us for ever thinking otherwise. Take us to your glory in heaven – and do so on earth as it is in heaven.
Today’s reading includes a grievous, faithless decision made by Israelite leaders that had them waste 38 years. And it is why everyone who personally experienced the Exodus as an adult never crossed the Jordan to go into the Promised Land. Let’s deeply take this to heart.  A faithless and grievous decision ends up costing people to lose 38 years. Some historians may say they got off light. There are many instances through time where generations of lives can be wasted by a poor decision.  Let’s move forward in faith not fear.

12 – Aaron and Miriam go after Moses because his wife was from Cush. Zipporah was likely deceased and Moses had opted to not remain a widower. Cush was ‘Ethiopia’ and thus Moses’ wife was a different shade than the other Hebrews. This is not a strange or unique trait: people are going through times of struggle and they blame it on the people around them who are a different color than they are. Moses did not retaliate or push back. He was the paragon of humility. God stepped in to rebuke Aaron and Miriam, Moses’ older brother (of 4 years), Miriam the older sister (of 7 years). The Word from God, the cloud enveloping, the leprosy, the frantic petition/prayer … It’s a salient tale in the Bible that forever teaches to not pester nor accuse nor mock one’s called and anointed, legitimate, spiritual leader.  Don’t get ugly with him, and when struggling with a matter, don’t change the subject – take it to God. Or God will “take it to you”!

13 – It is time to go into the Promised Land. 12 spies are sent in. They include Joshua (Hebrew for “Jesus”) of the tribe of Ephraim, and Caleb of the tribe of Judah. They are to give a full report about everything they observe. It is 40 days of stealth movement among giants, watching, noting, spiriting into the next grove, forest, thicket, cave. You thought “capture the flag” during Middle School summer camp was exciting?! This was over the top –> to do this, and to never seem threatening to the locals, and/or remain incognito, and to be certain to never away the real reason you are there.  And as the story unfolded, the 12 spies came back … 10 of them are chicken-hearted. They report that to proceed in is impossible due to the size of the inhabitants. Joshua attempted to insert some reality based upon the God who had brought them this far; the God who had gotten them out of Egypt; while eradicating the world’s toughest army! Faith marked Joshua and Caleb. Fear marked the other 10 spies.
14 – As the strange psychology and/of mathematics go, 10 spies were able to spread negativity and convince the 600,000 Israelite men (likely 2million+ Israelites total) to wail and fret all through the night. Joshua and Calebs’ encouragement is 100% ignored.  In their fretting he people threaten to stone Moses/Aaron/Joshua/Caleb – [yea, tell me about it]–> ‘whoopie’ for leadership over a people who have no vision ? It is a very unfortunate development.  God is angry enough to kill them all. And yet Moses intercedes; THIS is great leadership!  The Lord does not destroy them but neither will he allow any of this generation to cross the Jordan and enter God’s Promise or come into His rest for them. They are doomed to walk in circles for 38-39 more years and die in the desert. God wasn’t done making his statement – he struck the 10 faithless spies dead; those who incited all the Israelites to rebel instead of move on in faith. With them dead, the people grieved, then they decided to move into Canaan.  It was too late.
God said ‘no’. Obeying God 24 hours later IS disobeying. Don’t let anyone you ever know or meet forget this. Some thought they could override what God had dictated and started walking into the land — they received a country-whoopin’ from the Amalekites and that ended that!
15 – There were laws about offerings and they had to be adhered to.  Notice that foreigners were to abide by these same laws regardless if they were passing through, residing temporary, or for long term.  In other words a foreigner could not traverse through be smug declaring, “ahhh, I’m not a Hebrew, these laws don’t apply to me.”  We see today, across the world, where this attitude is causing havoc, domestic upheaval, civil tension, and worse where a foreigner thinks they can enter another country and live like the Devil because that’s how we did it back in wherever country they are from. –WRONG!
The crucial importance of the Sabbath is asserted.  And there is distinct reminders instituted so that the Law is not forgotten.  Yes, God thinks of everything for us. We simply need to follow his plan

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