Today’s Bible reading: Numbers 11:24-13:33; Mark 14:22-52; Psalm 52:1-9; Proverbs 11:1-3
Yesterday the people of Israel complained that they had no meat to eat. At the end of yesterday’s passage God promised to provide enough meat for them that they would quickly get sick of it. He was not pleased that they were grumbling against Him after all He had done for them.
But before God gives them the quail He promised, He gives them something else – leadership. They asked for quail even though they didn’t need it. But first God gives them something they need but didn’t ask for. Isn’t it cool how God works in our lives? He knows what we need before we do. He’s willing to give us what we want but if He gives that to us right away we will think we can control Him with whining. Instead God patiently makes sure that we have what we truly need first — something more valuable than what we asked for. Then when we get what we originally wanted it doesn’t seem so important. God works this way to achieve His main goal – building our character.
Moses shows an important character trait of a good leader in Numbers 11:29. Young Joshua (who will later take over the leadership of Israel after Moses dies) is a little upset that two men who were not with Moses and the 70 were prophesying. Perhaps he felt that these two men were imitators who were trying to usurp Moses’s’ position as leader. Joshua was apparently very loyal to Moses. Loyalty is very important for a subordinate and protege such as Joshua. But Moses does not get jealous. If God wants to continue to use Moses or if He wants a change in leadership is no worry for Moses. He knows that God is in control. Jealousy is simply a lack of acknowledgement of God’s will.
The quail arrive in Numbers 11:31 in droves. “For miles in every direction” there were quail. The people spend over 24 hours collecting quail such that each person gathers 50 bushels! Who needs 50 bushels of quail? No one. And that is the problem. The people gathered so much quail because they had lost faith in God to provide. They hoarded because they were afraid that they will never see meat again. Obviously this made God mad. God doesn’t just meet our big needs once in a while. He walks with us every day and wants us to trust Him constantly.
Moses’s own siblings criticize him in Numbers 12. They accuse him of pride. Ironically, it was pride in themselves that made them make this accusation. Again we see an example of selective and creative memory that all people have. God had spoken through both Aaron and Miriam in the past — something they seem to have forgotten. But God chose Moses to be the leader. There was one time in my career where I reported to two people. I can tell you it is very confusing. It is best to have one leader. God knows what He is doing. Leadership by committee doesn’t work.
Its interesting that Moses is described as humble (Numbers 12:3). If you recall he was anything but humble when he first lived in Egypt. God has worked in his life in a big way. God wants to do the same thing for us. He wants to change us from what we are to what we can be.
The sad story of the 12 spies occurs in Numbers 13. God had already told Moses what the land of Canaan was like and had already promised the land to them. So it appears that God’s plan to send 12 spies to get a report on the land simply was a test of Israel’s faith. They fail the test.
The spies report that the land is filled with tremendous resources just like God said. But they also report that the people who live there are big and strong. This scares Israel to the point where they are too afraid to take the land. God had already promised that they would be victorious. God never commands us to do something we will fail at. I think we often view a “command” negatively as if it is an unwelcome order. But when it comes to God a “command” is encouragement. I think of it as God telling me I can do something I never thought I could do. Just like someone cheering me on from the sidelines. And the best part is, since God is always with me, He will help me do whatever He commands. So victory is assured.
Sadly Israel forgot that God was with them. And they decide not to go into Canaan. It is a decision they will regret for the rest of their lives as we will read tomorrow.
Notice how Jesus prays in Mark 14:36 today. He calls God “Abba”. Abba is the Aramaic word for “daddy”. It is one of the first words a child learns to say in the Middle East. It is the English equivalent of “DaDa”. Jesus is our model. He lived life exactly the way God wants us to. God doesn’t want us talking to Him with fancy words. He wants a close, personal relationship with us. Just like a little child to it’s dad.
Its interesting that Jesus was a peaceful man who brought no harm to anyone yet the soliders come to arrest him with clubs and swords (Mark 14:43). The people who sent them (the religious leaders) really did not understand who Jesus was or what He stood for. All they could see was their influence over the people dwindling away so have Jesus arrested and killed. Again we see jealousy and pride at work here. So many people are the same way in our world today. They don’t know who Jesus really is. Its up to us, those who know Jesus, to tell others so they can be saved.
One amazing thing about the Bible is the brutally honest way it describes humanity. Nothing is sugar coated like in writings of world religions which glorify mankind. Case in point: Psalms 52:7. When we trust in money we lose sight of God. When we lose sight of God we become more wicked than we were before. And not only that, but we are more bold about our wickedness too. We get to the point where we don’t even care if what we do is wrong. That is a scary place to be.
Proverbs 11: 2 teaches us that no one can learn when they are full of pride. Pride leads to blindness. We think we know all that we need to know and our mind becomes closed. The only way to achieve wisdom is to be humble. Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself (that is self-loathing and is not Biblical). Humility is thinking of yourself less often. Always assume you don’t know everything. That way you’ll always learn something.
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