Saturday, February 21, 2015

Numbers 13-14 - The Life of Moses

(My BSF Notes)
Last week we saw how the Israelites complained about the manna and wanted meat to eat.  God gave them exactly what they wanted.  He sent quail for a month and they ate the quail until they were sick of it.  Then we saw Miriam criticize Moses and how God came to his defense.

Numbers 13-14:1-4 – The Spies
The Lord told Moses to send 1 leader from each tribe to go explore the land of Canaan that He was giving them.  Men from twelve tribes were selected including Caleb from the tribe of Judah and Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim.  They were to find out what the land was like and if the people there strong or weak, few or many.  Was the land good or bad? What were the towns like, unwalled or fortified?  How was the soil?  Was it fertile or poor?  They were also to try to bring back fruit from the land.  They did just what they were told and explored the land.  They cut a single cluster of grapes.  It was so large that two men had to carry it on a pole between them. 

At the end of 40 days they returned and reported to Moses and the Israelite community.  They reported that it does flow with milk and honey, but the cities were fortified and very large.  The people that lived there were powerful.  They reported they saw descendants of Anak there who were like giants.  “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said we should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”Num. 13:30.

Ten of the spies disagreed with Caleb and didn’t want to attack.  They said the people there were stronger so the men spread a bad report about the land.  The people had gone through so much to get to the Promise Land and now it was time to claim it.  They failed to trust that God would do what He said He would do.  They simply did not believe His Word.  They carried the evidence on their shoulders, but had unbelief in their hearts.

Many of us are like the Israelites.  We see the evidence all around us, but we just don’t believe God will do what He says.  This keeps us from achieving what we could as witnesses for Jesus.

Do you believe God will do what He says?
What are you doing to help others believe?

By Caleb standing up against the people he probably lost his friends, his followers, and his credibility.  There was one other who was with him.  That was Joshua.  Caleb was a faithful servant and trusted God and was not afraid to speak against the others.

When have you stood up for when you believe something was God’s will?
What should you do before beginning a new work for God?
What important job has God asked you to do? 

The people were fearful and raised their voices, wept, and grumbled against Moses.  “If only we had died in Egypt!  Or in this desert!  Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?......Wouldn’t it be better to go back to Egypt?  … We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”Num. 14:1-4.  What were they thinking?  How quickly they forgot the hardships and slavery in Egypt and all that God had done for them.  They blamed Moses and Aaron by wanting to choose another leader, but were really blaming God.

How do you do the same thing when you think you are facing the impossible?
Do you blame others?
Or do you trust God will be with you and do what He says?

Numbers 14:5-45 – The Unbelief

Moses and Aaron fell face down before the people, probably in fear of what would happen to them and maybe in prayer and worship of God.  Caleb and Joshua had their eyes on God and not themselves.  They told the people, “Do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up.  Their protection is gone, but the lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them.” Num. 14:9.  The people were afraid of the giants in the land, but Caleb and Joshua knew they had a giant God.

What are the giants in your life?
Do you trust God will help you face them?
When have you stood on God’s promises when others did not?

The people talked of stoning Caleb and Joshua.  Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the Tent.  “How long will these people treat me with contempt?  How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?  I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger that they.” Num 14:11-12.

Moses reminded God if He destroyed the people the Egyptians would hear about it and tell the inhabitants of this land and they would think He doesn’t keep His promises.  This would question God’s power and that He is not the true God.  (Num. 14:13-16)  Moses reminded God, “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.  Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.’  In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.” - Num. 14:17-19. 

Some think in the Old Testament that God is always strict and angry and judgmental.  They think in the New Testament He is different.  God does not change!  He is always the same.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”Heb. 13:8.  He always loves us.  He loves us so much that He sent His son Jesus to take the punishment we deserve.  If we are sorry for our sins, He will forgive us, because of the work of Jesus on the cross.

God listened to Moses and forgave and spared the people.  He forgave them, but condemned them to wander in the desert for the next 40 years.  They would not enter the Promise Land.  Only Caleb and Joshua would enter.  Then the 10 men who gave the bad report were struck dead.

God listened to Moses which encourages us when we pray.  Our prayers do affect God.  The words we use are not important, because He already knows our hearts and what we need.  We need to be humble and honest and God will hear us and answer our prayers.

Moses told the Israelites what God said that they would not enter the land and they mourned bitterly.  “We have sinned.  We will go up to the place the Lord promised.”Num 14:40.  Moses told the people not to go to the land because God would not be with them, because they had not obeyed Him (Num. 14:41-43).  They went anyway even though the cloud of the Lord did not move.  When they arrived in the land, the Amalekites and Canaanites attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.  The people faced the same armies they would have faced, but without the Lord and they were defeated.  Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”John 15:5.

They realized and confessed their sin, but there was no true repentance.  They tried to correct their wrong doing by their own strength and attempted to go without Moses and without God’s presence.
When have you gone along with the crowd instead of trusting God?
When have you blamed God for your circumstances?
How have you disobeyed God and what was the result?

Follow God and trust that He will do what He says.
If we trust and obey God, He will bless us.
When you go against God, you will suffer consequences.

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