In these chapters, we find a wrestling between the nation of Israel and God. They are in the wilderness, about to enter the promised land. They have seen great miracles and wonders worked by their Lord. His presence is with them. They can look up and see the pillar of smoke by day and the pillar of fire by night. They just watched Aaron’s son’s torched by God. And yet, having seen all this, they immediately rebel against God.
In Numbers 11, the people begin to complain (about what we don’t know), but so bad that God destroyed a few of them on the outskirts of the camp. This is immediately followed by a mixed multitude (mixture of Israelites and others) complaining that they have no meat. So, God sends meat for all the people, but also sends a plague because of the complaining and kills many. Then Miriam and Aaron (Moses’ sister and brother) complain because they think they ought to be as important as Moses. God gives Miriam leprosy for 7 days because of this.
Then, men who spied out the promised land for the people complain that they can’t conquer the land. The entire nation rises up with them against Moses and Aaron except for 2 men, Joshua and Caleb. The people are in such a craze that they want to stone Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb. Their punishment this time is that none of them that are adults well be allowed to enter the promised land. And the 10 spies that gave a bad report to the people were killed. The people again rebel against God and try to take the promised land even though they are told they would be defeated. And they were defeated.
Next, a rebellion is started by a Levite named Korah who was jealous of Moses’ position and power. God destroys him and those with him, 250 men. Then the people rebel the next day and complain about all the people God has killed as if they were innocent. God then sends another plague that kills about 14,700 of them before Aaron intercedes for them.
What a rebellious people! We look at them and are astonished at how rebellious and unbelieving they were, especially in the face of the presence and wonders of God. Yet, I find myself often just as rebellious and unbelieving. You see, it is easy to be “faithful” when everything is perfect. But, when things are hard or we worry about what’s coming, or we don’t have what we think we deserve, we often rebel against God. The reason…unbelief!
It is unbelief. We may believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but rarely do we believe that God is in absolute total control of every detail in our lives. We fail to see the hardships as trials from the Lord to make us better, to mature us and make us stronger. We fail to see the denial by God of something we want as his protection. We simply don’t think God is active in the little things. But, He is.
He is in control of every little thing and every big thing. That light you get stuck at when in a hurry, your lost keys, a lost job, or even a death. These are all things the Lord is in control of. We often blame others or even Satan for the work God is doing in our lives. Oh don’t get me wrong, there are definitely attacks from the enemy, but even these are in the hand of God. Look at Job, God used Satan to mature Job and prove Himself.
Just prior to all these rebellions, God gave a blessing for Aaron the High Priest to say over the people.
Numbers 6:22–27 (NKJV) — 22 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:
24 “The LORD bless you and keep you;
25 The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’
27 “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
Every place you see “the Lord” is really the name Yahweh. This is the name God gave himself for the nation of Israel. This is what He means by putting His name on the nation of Israel. God has put His name on them. God blesses Israel and is still keeping them. God’s face still shines upon Israel and He is very gracious to them. God’s countenance will one day be lifted up (a happy face) again for His people and He will give them peace. They are still in rebellion as a nation and people today. But, God has His remnant. The whole nation will return to Him, when Jesus returns to them.
If you are born again, then the Lord makes the same promises to you. He will bless you, keep you, and make His face shine upon you. He is gracious to you and He is joyful over you. He gives you peace. If you are not born again, don’t you think it’s time! You can experience the wonderful blessings of God. More importantly, you can be given mercy and not face the living God in judgment. Don’t rebel against Him, be blessed by Him.
This Week’s Reading Plan:
- Day 1 – Numbers 18-20
- Day 2 – Numbers 21-22
- Day 3 – Numbers 23-25
- Day 4 – Numbers 26-27
- Day 5 – Numbers 28-30
- Day 6- Numbers 31-32
- Day 7 – Numbers 33-34
In His Service, Scott