I almost titled this week’s blog “Fire and Leprosy and Quail, oh my” in light of all that happens to the children of Israel in the first half of the book of Numbers.
After spending about a year at the foot of mount Sinai receiving detailed instructions on God’s holy laws and having built the tabernacle, the Israelites are now given the go ahead to start marching ahead…after a few more details (like the census and additional instructions for their camp layout and expectations for the Levites) are laid out.
But it is not so easy…
It is oh so hard (or so it seems) for the Israelites to be able to put their faith whole heartedly in the promises of God and what He said he would do.
Just in the first half of numbers the following bad things happen:
- Fire comes from heaven to destroy those who complained
- A plague hits the people who consumed Quail per their cravings
- Miriam gets leprosy when she joins with Aaron and questions Moses’ leadership
- God threatens to strike the Israelites with another plague for doubting they could conquer the promised land
- Those who were contentious enough to think they could beat the Amalekites (against God’s command) got defeated
- 3 of the Levites led by Korah rebel against Aaron and Moses and get swallowed up by the earth along with their families
- 250 others who followed Korah’s rebellion get consumed by fire
Depressing? Yes, maybe.
But through all of this, I still see the mercy of God shining through. So many times through this narrative we will see Moses pleading, interceding with God for his great mercy upon His people.And God reduces or alters the original intended punishment.
It is the Father God’s great love that disciplines His children in the first place. “Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” – Proverbs 3:12. As a parent I know exactly what this is like. Sometimes I do have to allow my children to face the consequences of their choices so they will learn important life lessons. I let them “suffer” not because I delight in it (on the contrary, it is sometimes very painful) but because I love them.
And it is God’s great mercy indeed that keeps us all from even being consumed. And it is the same for us today as well:
So this week as you read the Israelites journey through the wilderness, open your eyes to see God’s mercy and compassion through the acts of judgment.
And here is rest of the info for you to embark on this journey on your own….
God leads the people on the journey to the promised land while having to address their rebellion and lack of belief, punishing them while also providing redemption by extending His mercy and love.
Weekly Reading Plan
And if you want to read more during the week, here is the weekly plan…if you can push through and read the full text, you may learn a lot more. If not, use the key texts I have picked out for you:
If you want to dig deeper here are some of my suggestions:
- First read full text suggested above making sure you highlight and note down key aspects that stand out to you especially those that speak of God’s love and compassion.
- Read 1 Samuel 15: 22-23. What is rebellion being compared to? (Hint: it is not a nice comparison)
- Read Nehemiah 9:5-21 and see how the priests during Nehemiah’s time summarize God’s faithfulness through the wilderness journey. Pay special attention to verses 16-17.
- Optional: Read Psalms 22-24
And that is it for week 8!
May the Lord minister to your heart as you journey with the Israelites and learn from their mistakes and draw near to God with a heart of pure devotion.
Happy Bible Learning!