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Numbers 16 – 20
God leads His people out of Egypt. He leads them out of slavery. He leads them through the Red Sea and the desert. He provides for them out of His own storehouses, manna from Heaven and opens the earth to bring forth fresh springs of water. Nothing they could want for or need has been denied to them. God has performed more miracles in front of this generation than at almost any other time in history! Yet they come to the edge of the promised land and are turned away becuase they don’t have enough faith to enter.
They continually rise up against Moses and Aaron, God’es appointed leaders. In these chapters 250 men are consumed by fire from the Lord. The leaders of this group are swallowed up with their families and all their possesions by the earth. Because the 250 were burning incense before the Lord, their censers are counted as holy to Him. They are gathered from the ashes and hammered out into sheets to cover the altar as a reminder to the Israelites that only Aaron and his sons may make offerings of incense.
Even the earth opening up to swallow whole families and all their possensions alive is not enough to scare the Israelites in the long run. They insolently come against Moses and Aaron again, bringing God’s anger on them and causing a plague that kills 14,700 before Aaron is able to make atonement for them.
God then says I’m settling this issue of leadership once and for all. He had them bring the staff of the head of each tribe with the name of that head written on the staff. Aaron’s name is written on the staff of the Levite tribe. God tells them that the staff of the man He chooses will sprout and that man will be the leader of Israel. They do as God says and not only does Aaron’s staff sprout, it buds blossoms and produces almonds! The other staffs are given back, but Aaron’s is placed in front of the Testimony as a reminder to the people.
Miriam dies. Then the people rise against Moses and Aaron again asking them why they were brought out of Egypt to die in this desert without water. Moses and Aaron go to God and He tells to speak to the rock He shows them and water will come from it for the people. This is perhaps the devastating part of all because Moses and Aaron do not enough faith to do as God says here. Instead of speaking to the rock as God commanded they strike it instead. God still gives the people water, but He tells Moses and Aaron that because of this they too won’t enter the promised land.
The Israelites are denied passage through Edom.
Shortly after this God tells Moses and Aaron it is time for Aaron to die. They are to go up on Mount Hor, which they are camped nearby in Kadesh, with Aaron’s son Eleazar. On the top of the mountain Aaron’s robes are to be transferred to his son in symbolism of the priesthood and Aaron dies. When the people of Israel hear what has happened they mourn Aaron for about a month.
I know that I too have had my moments of obstinancy with God. I thank Him that He has been merciful and patient with me even when I know who He is and seen What He has done, but still have so little faith. Don’t lose sight my friends of what God has in store for you, beg Him for the faith to follow His commands no matter how silly you may feel talking to those rocks in your life!