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Numbers 11 – 15
These chapters are hard to get through after reading about all God is doing for His people. All they can do is whine. They have come to the edge of the promised land when their true heart condition is revealed.
These are hard times in the desert, absolutely, but God is pulling them through. What do they do? Complain! God hears them and sends fire among them at the outer edges of the camp. The people then go to Moses and he prays that the fire be stopped. It does. The fire must not have been a good enough warning because then the people start complaining about the food (manna) that God has been providing for them. They want meat and are sick of eating the same thing all the time. God is extremely angry with them! Moses must be too because his response is, “God why are you making me babysit this bunch of whiners if I did something to deserve this, just kill me now! But, if not deal with Your people!” (highly interpreted and summarized) God does deal with them, He sends quail from heaven and then strikes all the people who gather it greedily, after their complaints, with a plague and they die.
Still, this is not enough! Then Aaron and Miriam both decide that they haven’t gotten enough credit for their roles in leading the Israelites and complain about Moses. God hears them and calls a family meeting with all three siblings. He basically tells them, you’re picking on the wrong guy. With my prophets, I send them dreams and visions but with Moses, I speak face to face! Then He asks them why it didn’t scare them to speak out against someone who God is so close too. Miriam is punished with leprosy because she is unclean she must remain outside the camp for 7 days according to God’s commandment.
God then has Moses send a man from each tribe to explore the land He is about to give them. All but two of these men return to afraid to enter the land. It is flowing with milk and honey as God has said but the people are strong and large like giants. Caleb and Joshua are the two who don’t agree. They saw the same things their fellow spies did, but they believe that God will give them land anyways just as He has promised.
The people believe the negative reports and revolt. God is so angry that He punishes that entire generation to wander the desert for the next 40 years until everyone who rebelled against God was dead. Then He would give the promised land to their children.
“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.”
Even this is not enough. Many people from the tribes of Israel decide that they are going to enter the promised land without God. They die at the hands of their enemies.
God is serious about our sin, but He is also patient. It is not in our best health or interests to test Him! Turn to Him and repent you sin today, He will forgive you and pour out His great mercy into your life!