Book of Numbers (Part 2) – Spies and Rebellion

The Book of Numbers gives us more details and fills in other information in Leviticus and the other Books of the Law.  The  key events for chapter 1:11 through chapter 19 are as follows:

Israel sets out from Sinai to Kadesh

  • The Gershonites and Merarites carry the Tabernacle – Numbers 10:17
  • The Kohathites carry the holy things – Numbers 10:21
  • The glory of the Lord was over them – Numbers 10:34
  • The people complained – God angered at their ingratitude and irreverence, fire at Taberah and plague at  Kibroth-hattaavah – Numbers 11

Miriam and Aaron Speak Against Moses

Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan to see what it was like. Ten gave a bad report of the danger, while Joshua and Caleb gave a good report. (Numbers 13).

Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan to see what it was like. Ten gave a bad report of the danger, while Joshua and Caleb gave a good report. (Numbers 13).

Spies Sent Out to Canaan

Law-giving at Kadesh – (Numbers 15)

Rebellion of rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram

Aaron’s budding staff – Numbers 17

Duties and privileges of priests and Levites

Cleansing From Death’s Uncleanness

/Bob’s boy
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image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Judges 13 – The Birth of Samson

The wife of Manoah (woman in a veil and wimple)

The wife of Manoah (woman in a veil and wimple) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter 13 brings us to the most famous of the judges, Samson.  Unfortunately, his story is one of the most misunderstood by most people.  His power came from God, and it left him because of his lack of self-control and unfaithfulness to the Lord, as we will see in the next three chapters.  The angel of the Lord appeared first to Samson’s childless mother, and told her that she would have a son. and would be a Nazirite.  Her husband Manoah showed his faithfulness first when instead of questioning what she said, prayed to God, wanting to have the opportunity to be instructed how to raise the child.  When asked his name, the angel of the Lord replied that it was too wonderful for man to comprehend (verse 18).

Any man or woman could take a vow to become a Nazirite as told in Numbers 6.  It was a vow to set ones self apart for God, and it came with certain restrictions, including no razor to the hair, no fruit from a vine, and no contact with the dead (corpses).  After Samson was born, verses 24-25 relate that as the young man grew, the spirit of the Lord began to “stir him.”  The Philistines were in control of the Israelites, and God would use Samson to stir the people as well.  Clearly, they needed it.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Numbers 32 – Reuben and Gad Settle in Gilead

Land divided - TransJordan

The land received after the conquest of the Amorites and their king, Sihon and that of Og and the land of Bashan was found desirable to the tribes of Reuben and Gad for their vast livestock reserves.  So they propose to settle there instead of across the Jordan.

This angers Moses, as he reminds them of the consequences to the people when the spies 40 years earlier discouraged entry into the land from Kadesh-barnea.  The tribes reassure him that they will cross over to defeat the Canaanites across the Jordan anyway.

So Moses agrees under those conditions (with a stern warning – verse 23), and a portion of the land of Gilead is also set aside for the half-tribe of Manasseh after it was captured.  The portion of northern Gilead given to them is described in Joshua 13:29-31.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Numbers 21:4-9 / Num 25 – Baal Worship at Peor

Mount Hor where it is believed that Aaron brot...

Image via Wikipedia

Much has happened in the wilderness as we come into this reading.  We have skipped over Aaron’s death in chapter 20; and Moses has descended Mount Hor with Aaron’s son Eleazar.  The first part of this reading is about the bronze serpent in chapter 21, on the heels of their first victory against the Canaanites (brought on by the attack by the king of Arad).    The people have been grumbling about the “miserable food” and God has begun dealing with them in a dramatic way – with fiery serpents.  At God’s instruction, Moses makes the bronze serpent, which saves the lives of those who look upon it.  Verse 5 suggests that their grumbling was more than just a little bit disrespectful.  After the close brush with self-destruction in the golden calf fiasco, it is almost surprising to see that any of them would dare to behave in that way.  But, as we will see in the second part of this reading, it gets worse.

So why make such note of the bronze serpent passage – just about 6 verses?  Great question, actually.  First, it begs some questions – what actually saved the people?  Was it just the fact that they looked at the bronze serpent?  Did they have to believe that it would save them?  Could that belief alone have saved them – without actually doing the act of looking at it?  Jesus refers to this event in John 3:14, where he tells Nicodemus (and us) how to achieve salvation.  This reference by and about our savior is “sandwiched” between Jesus telling Nicodemus he must be born again, and the baptisms and lessons in obedience to Christ in the verses all the way to the end of John 3.   Do yourself a favor and read this entire chapter of John (36 verses) after reading Numbers 21:4-9.  Jesus’ references to being lifted up has other meaning here, as it does in John 8:28 and John 12:32.

In chapter 25, Shittim is the last encampment before the people cross the Jordan, and apostasy again rears its ugly head in a horrible affront to God.  Some scholars think this may be Tell el-Hammam (about 16 kilometers east of Jericho).  The sins are numerous and include the worship of Baal with the Moabites.  we do not find out for sure until chapter 31, but it is Balaam who leads them to this.  We are not reading his story from the last few chapters in this schedule, but he is referred to again in 2 Peter 2:15 and Jude 1:11. Eleazar’s son, Phineas gains favor with the Lord and keeps the ensuing plague from getting any worse (verses 7-9).  But this sin at Peor will not keep the Lord from sending His people to conquer the Canaanites.  It is not for their righteousness, as Moses will remind them – but for the evil of the Canaanites themselves.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers 

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Numbers 14 – The People Rebel

English: The spies showing the fertility of Ca...

Image via Wikipedia

Once again, the people who have seen the power and the Glory of the Lord with their own eyes forget His promise and this time, believing the report of the spies and (as Joshua and Caleb aptly put it in verse 9) rebelling against the Lord will cost them dearly.  God is once again fed up with their disobedience; and in verse 12, He tells Moses (as He did in Exodus 32:10) that He will destroy them and start over with Moses.

But Moses again intercedes and passionately pleads with the Lord in verses 13-19.  It is this blogger’s opinion that the Lord relented on their destruction not because of Moses’ argument in those verses about what the nations around them will think.  The Lord’s time is His own, and He would do as He wills and the nations would see His power anyway.  Consider instead, His simple statement afterward in verse 20.  “I have pardoned, according to your word.”  That was it.  Moses favor and his request were enough to grant their pardon.

So just as Pharaoh decided the fate of his own in Exodus 11:5, siding with the spies and disobeying God would mean that these people decided their own fate.  Instead of their little ones becoming a prey as they said in verse 3, those little ones will be the ones to enter Canaan – only after these people all die in the wilderness.  But except for Caleb and Joshua, the spies would all meet their doom more quickly (verse 38).

Having received this news, the people have a change of heart and despite Moses’ warning that God would no longer be with them, they make an attempt to enter Canaan anyway – and are soundly defeated (verses 40-45).  The time for obeying God is always now.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Numbers 13 – Spies Sent into Canaan

English: The Spies Return from Canaan, engravi...

Image via Wikipedia

We take the story of God’s word up now almost half way into the Book of Numbers.  The people of Israel left Sinai in chapter 10 and the Lord makes the command for one leader from each of the tribes of their fathers to be sent into the land of Canaan to spy.  Notice the reminder in verse 2 that this is the Land that He is giving to the people of Israel.  But except for Joshua and Caleb, the spies forget the promise.  After 40 days travel through the Negeb (or Negev), Hebron. Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, they bring back a report that the land is indeed good.  But their description of the way the land is defended, and indeed the people themselves (verses 32-33) is calculated to persuade the people that taking the land would be impossible.

(Side note: Some background on the Negeb (or Negev) along with a modern photo are provided in this article at Ferrell’s Travel Blog)

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.