February 29, Numbers 14-15; Psalm 90

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14 Then the whole community broke into loud cries, and the people wept that night. All the Israelites complained about Moses and Aaron, and the whole community told them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to die by the sword? Our wives and children will become plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.”Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole assembly of the Israelite community. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who scouted out the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite community: “The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us. Only don’t rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us. Don’t be afraid of them!”10 While the whole community threatened to stone them, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the tent of meeting.

God’s Judgment of Israel’s Rebellion

11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people despise me? How long will they not trust in me despite all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them with a plague and destroy them. Then I will make you into a greater and mightier nation than they are.”13 But Moses replied to the Lord, “The Egyptians will hear about it, for by your strength you brought up this people from them. 14 They will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, Lord, are among these people, how you, Lord, are seen face to face, how your cloud stands over them, and how you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you kill this people with a single blow,[a] the nations that have heard of your fame will declare, 16 ‘Since the Lord wasn’t able to bring this people into the land he swore to give them, he has slaughtered them in the wilderness.’17 “So now, may my Lord’s power be magnified just as you have spoken: 18 The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in faithful love, forgiving iniquity and rebellion. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children to the third and fourth generation. 19 Please pardon the iniquity of this people, in keeping with the greatness of your faithful love, just as you have forgiven them from Egypt until now.”20 The Lord responded, “I have pardoned them as you requested. 21 Yet as surely as I live and as the whole earth is filled with the Lord’s glory, 22 none of the men who have seen my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tested me these ten times and did not obey me, 23 will ever see the land I swore to give their fathers. None of those who have despised me will see it. 24 But since my servant Caleb has a different spirit and has remained loyal to me, I will bring him into the land where he has gone, and his descendants will inherit it. 25 Since the Amalekites and Canaanites are living in the lowlands,[b] turn back tomorrow and head for the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea.”26 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long must I endure this evil community that keeps complaining about me? I have heard the Israelites’ complaints that they make against me. 28 Tell them: As surely as I live—this is the Lord’s declaration—I will do to you exactly as I heard you say. 29 Your corpses will fall in this wilderness—all of you who were registered in the census, the entire number of you twenty years old or more—because you have complained about me. 30 I swear that none of you will enter the land I promised[c] to settle you in, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 I will bring your children whom you said would become plunder into the land you rejected, and they will enjoy it. 32 But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your children will be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years and bear the penalty for your acts of unfaithfulness until all your corpses lie scattered in the wilderness. 34 You will bear the consequences of your iniquities forty years based on the number of the forty days that you scouted the land, a year for each day.[d] You will know my displeasure.[e35 I, the Lord, have spoken. I swear that I will do this to the entire evil community that has conspired against me. They will come to an end in the wilderness, and there they will die.”36 So the men Moses sent to scout out the land, and who returned and incited the entire community to complain about him by spreading a negative report about the land— 37 those men who spread the negative report about the land were struck down by the Lord. 38 Only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh remained alive of those men who went to scout out the land.

Israel Routed

39 When Moses reported these words to all the Israelites, the people were overcome with grief. 40 They got up early the next morning and went up the ridge of the hill country, saying, “Let’s go to the place the Lord promised, for we were wrong.”41 But Moses responded, “Why are you going against the Lord’s command? It won’t succeed. 42 Don’t go, because the Lord is not among you and you will be defeated by your enemies. 43 The Amalekites and Canaanites are right in front of you, and you will fall by the sword. The Lord won’t be with you, since you have turned from following him.”44 But they dared to go up the ridge of the hill country, even though the ark of the Lord’s covenant and Moses did not leave the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and Canaanites who lived in that part of the hill country came down, attacked them, and routed them as far as Hormah.

Laws about Offerings

15 The Lord instructed Moses: “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you enter the land I am giving you to settle in, and you make a fire offering to the Lord from the herd or flock—either a burnt offering or a sacrifice, to fulfill a vow, or as a freewill offering, or at your appointed festivals—to produce a pleasing aroma for the Lord, the one presenting his offering to the Lord is also to present a grain offering of two quarts[f] of fine flour mixed with a quart[g] of oil. Prepare a quart of wine as a drink offering with the burnt offering or sacrifice of each lamb.“If you prepare a grain offering with a ram, it is to be four quarts[h] of fine flour mixed with a third of a gallon[i] of oil. Also present a third of a gallon of wine for a drink offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord.“If you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or as a sacrifice, to fulfill a vow, or as a fellowship offering to the Lord, a grain offering of six quarts[j] of fine flour mixed with two quarts[k] of oil is to be presented with the bull. 10 Also present two quarts of wine as a drink offering. It is a fire offering of pleasing aroma to the Lord. 11 This is to be done for each ox, ram, lamb, or goat. 12 This is how you are to prepare each of them, no matter how many.13 “Every Israelite is to prepare these things in this way when he presents a fire offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 14 When an alien resides with you or someone else is among you and wants to prepare a fire offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, he is to do exactly as you do throughout your generations. 15 The assembly is to have the same statute for both you and the resident alien as a permanent statute throughout your generations. You and the alien will be alike before the Lord. 16 The same law and the same ordinance will apply to both you and the alien who resides with you.”17 The Lord instructed Moses: 18 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: After you enter the land where I am bringing you, 19 you are to offer a contribution to the Lord when you eat from the food of the land. 20 You are to offer a loaf from your first batch of dough as a contribution; offer it just like a contribution from the threshing floor. 21 Throughout your generations, you are to give the Lord a contribution from the first batch of your dough.22 “When you sin unintentionally and do not obey all these commands that the Lord spoke to Moses— 23 all that the Lord has commanded you through Moses, from the day the Lord issued the commands and onward throughout your generations— 24 and if it was done unintentionally without the community’s awareness, the entire community is to prepare one young bull for a burnt offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, with its grain offering and drink offering according to the regulation, and one male goat as a sin offering. 25 The priest will then make atonement for the entire Israelite community so that they may be forgiven, for the sin was unintentional. They are to bring their offering, one made by fire to the Lord, and their sin offering before the Lord for their unintentional sin. 26 The entire Israelite community and the alien who resides among them will be forgiven, since it happened to all the people unintentionally.27 “If one person sins unintentionally, he is to present a year-old female goat as a sin offering. 28 The priest will then make atonement before the Lord on behalf of the person who acts in error sinning unintentionally, and when he makes atonement for him, he will be forgiven. 29 You are to have the same law for the person who acts in error, whether he is an Israelite or an alien who resides among you.30 “But the person who acts defiantly,[l] whether native or resident alien, blasphemes the Lord. That person is to be cut off from his people. 31 He will certainly be cut off, because he has despised the Lord’s word and broken his command; his guilt remains on him.”

Sabbath Violation

32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses, Aaron, and the entire community. 34 They placed him in custody because it had not been decided what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord told Moses, “The man is to be put to death. The entire community is to stone him outside the camp.” 36 So the entire community brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Tassels for Remembrance

37 The Lord said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them that throughout their generations they are to make tassels for the corners of their garments, and put a blue cord on the tassel at each corner. 39 These will serve as tassels for you to look at, so that you may remember all the Lord’s commands and obey them and not prostitute yourselves by following your own heart and your own eyes. 40 This way you will remember and obey all my commands and be holy to your God. 41 I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord your God.”
PSALM 90 Lord, you have been our refuge[a]
in every generation.
Before the mountains were born,
before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
from eternity to eternity, you are God.You return mankind to the dust,
saying, “Return, descendants of Adam.”
For in your sight a thousand years
are like yesterday that passes by,
like a few hours of the night.
You end their lives;[b] they sleep.
They are like grass that grows in the morning—
in the morning it sprouts and grows;
by evening it withers and dries up.For we are consumed by your anger;
we are terrified by your wrath.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
For all our days ebb away under your wrath;
we end our years like a sigh.
10 Our lives last[c] seventy years
or, if we are strong, eighty years.
Even the best of them are[d] struggle and sorrow;
indeed, they pass quickly and we fly away.
11 Who understands the power of your anger?
Your wrath matches the fear that is due you.
12 Teach us to number our days carefully
so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.[e]13 Lord—how long?
Turn and have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your faithful love
so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us rejoice for as many days as you have humbled us,
for as many years as we have seen adversity.
16 Let your work be seen by your servants,
and your splendor by their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us;
establish for us the work of our hands—
establish the work of our hands!

These chapters in Numbers give us a fascinating story.  The Israelites have been brought out of captivity and are headed to the promised land.  They see there are giants in the land they will have to face and they begin complaining about God.  They are asking questions like “why didn’t God just let us die in Egypt?”, “Why is God bringing us to die by the sword?”  Does anyone see the complete irony here?  God had brought them out of Egypt, given them so many different signs to do that, delivered them from Pharaoh’s army by splitting the Red Sea, and they still don’t trust His plan.

How about you?  What have you seen God do in your life?  How often do you complain about God and His plan when you encounter giants?  My friend, God has a plan for your life and anywhere you encounter giants in the path you must remember God is bigger and stronger.  Trust God with all your heart and He will not fail you!

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