Sunday, June 1, 2014

Numbers 14

Today's reading in our daily plan is Numbers 14. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Once again we see the Israelites complaining.  They grumble against Moses and Aaron, their leaders, and talk about stoning them.  
  • It takes an appearance by God Himself to protect Moses and Aaron from the Israelite people. 
  • Moses pleads to God to spare the Israelite people.  God forgives them for their grumbling but still disciplines them for their disobedience and constant complaining.  As part of their punishment, not one of the Israelites (other than Joshua and Caleb) above the age of 20 will enter into the promised land.
  • Grieved, the people acknowledge their sin and state their willingness to go to Canaan.  However, it's too late and they are defeated in their efforts.  The Lord was not with them in this endeavor.   

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Our words have consequences.  The negative opinion of ten men caused a great rebellion among the people.  Because it is human nature to accept opinion as fact, we must be especially careful when voicing a negative opinion.  What we say may not honor God and may heavily influence the actions of those who trust us to give sound advice.  
  • "The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion" (Numbers 14:18).  Sin has consequences.  And the Israelites had to deal with the consequences of distrusting God.  However, God still forgave them and spared their children so that they would one day inherit the promised land.  Despite the Israelites constant contempt and distrust of God, He kept His promises.  
  • Timing is important.  When the Israelites realized their foolish mistake, they were suddenly ready to return to God.  But God didn't confuse their admission of guilt with true repentance because He knew their hearts.  Sure enough, they soon went their own way again.  Sometimes right actions or good intentions come too late.  We must not only do what is right, but also do it at the right time.  God wants complete and instant obedience.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Is there a current spirit of complaint holding you back?  When a bad report is spread it's easy to lose our perspective.  We get caught up in the emotion of the moment, and we forget what we know about God's character.  What if the people had spent as much energy moving forward as they did moving back?  They could have enjoyed the promised land.  Instead, they never even entered it.  You have better ways to use your energy than to complain.  Take time right now to focus on God's past faithfulness and His trustworthiness.  Then lay aside the complaints you are tempted to focus on and move forward with full faith in God.  
  • Is their a sin in your life you need to repent of right now?  Is there an area of your life you've been slow in surrendering to God?  Take time to truly repent.  What would it look like for you to give God complete and instant obedience today?