Journey with Daniel
God’s people had been stubborn and rebellious. The Lord had chastened them for it, but in spite of their disobedience, the Lord had been faithful to care for them.
Part of God’s providing for them was Aaron and his descendants as priests to serve in the tabernacle. The responsibilities of the priests were serious. If they did not follow God’s instruction they might die. God held Aaron and his sons responsible for offenses committed against the sanctuary and the priesthood. The priesthood was God’s gift to Israel. Without priests the people had no approach to God. The Levites were God’s gift to Israel but, God relieved them from menial duties so that they could devote themselves to fully serving God and the people.
If the Levites were to have no menial job then God expected the other tribes to care for them. Both the priests and Levites were cared for means of the sacrifices, offerings and tithes of the people.
The principle is clear: Those who serve the Lord and His people should be supported from the material blessing God gives His people. “The laborer is worthy of his hire.” Paul wrote, “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:13-14).
If the priests and Levites did not have enough food for their families then they had to leave the sanctuary and go work in the fields (Neh. 13:10). Two points: It is sad when God’s people do not love the Lord and the Lord’s house to faithfully support it. Second, those who preach the gospel are never too good to go out and work in the work a day world to be able to provide for their own and the needs of the family if required to do so.
We have a short chapter today. Moses had it rough. There seemed to be countless complaints about his leadership. As we noted yesterday, the complaint against the men God appointed as leaders was a complaint against the God who appointed them (16:11). In today’s reading God provides a way to put an end to the complaints and rebellions against Moses and Aaron (17:5). A staff is presented from each of the 12 tribes with the head of their households written on the staff. Whomever’s bloomed indicated the one God chose. This would have been a clear demonstration – this leadership of Moses and Aaron was not self-appointed, but by the will and intention of God.
And what an amazing miracle! A dead staff – cut off from its root (source of life) – now blooms and produces almonds. That’s impossible! That’s the work of God – He is the source of life. Once the people see Aaron’s rod, their response was absolute fear. They could have been thinking, “We’ve been rejecting God’s chosen leader/high priest. We’re doomed!” They just saw what happened to Korah’s rebellion that led to death. They must have been terrified that their grumbling and complaint against Moses and Aaron would lead to the same fate.
Here’s a thought I had from this chapter: DON’T COMPLAIN. How sad is it that after all this time, and all these miracles, and all that Moses had done to prove himself as God’s appointed leader, it took yet another miracle for Israel to stop their grumbling (v. 5). It’s easy to complain. We’ve got a natural knack for criticism. This is obviously a broad subject, because there’s a lot we can grumble about. We grumble about the weather. We grumble about the country. We grumble about leaders, and elected officials. We grumble about aches and pains. We grumble about people who seem to grumble a lot. Sometimes our grumbling comes into the church – grumble about worship, about the leaders, about members we don’t see eye to eye with, grumble about the young people, grumble about the old people, grumble about the kids.
Grumble…grumble…grumble…And God hears all of it (Ex. 16:7-8). What does all this complaining say to God? What does it say to those who hear me? What does it say to those who aren’t Christians? What does it say about me? Oh if we would just stop and ask ourselves these questions. Why am I complaining? What will these words show others about my God? About my heart?
Here’s a reminder for today: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” Phil. 2:14-15
Remember – in the midst of hardship, difficulty, and pain - God is always good. Remember – when frustrated and disappointed by others around me – God is patient in my times of weakness, I should be too. Remember – when upset at elected officials – God is king on the throne, He never fails. Remember – when feeling worthless, empty, like what you have and where you are simply aren’t enough – you are a child of God – you’re adopted into His family.
I don’t need to grumble and complain when I stop and remember that I have all I need in God. Israel’s answer was right in front of them – just look to the tent in the middle of the camp. Just remember that even in your wilderness journeys, God is there. He always has been, and will be. When you feel like complaining – stop – and remember God. He’s always there. Stop and count your blessings. I won't need to complain when I consider all I have to be thankful for!
Merciful Father, what a blessing to know You are with us everywhere we go. We know You are good, You are loving, You are the giver of every good and perfect thing. Everything I need, You have provided. I tend to get so distracted by the aches and pains of life, and so easily find myself complaining about it, rather than turning to You in my distress, and finding my comfort and relief in You. Forgive me. I know that in You I have every reason to live a life of true joy. Help me to overcome the negative, critical attitudes in my heart. Even in life's storms, help me to turn to You rather than complain about You. Let the words of my lips be words of thanks and praise, not criticism and complaint. And let my joy and satisfaction in You become contagious in the lives of others – that I may point others to the true source of joy and satisfaction in this life – to You. Thank You for giving me reasons to be thankful, reasons to rejoice. Because of You my cup overflows. You are so good to me. Thank You Father.
Poor Moses. How did he do it? No sooner t is the issue with Miriam and Aaron settled. Now comes the challenge to his leadership by Korah and company. Unbelievable! Korah and company accuse Moses of “taking too much on himself” (Numbers 16:3). God responds to Moses, that their rebellion was not against him but against the Lord (Numbers 16:11). The rejection of Moses was a rejection of the Lord who appointed him.
The solution is that Korah and company are to take their censers, put fire and incense in them and come before the Lord. The one the Lord chooses will be the one He causes to come near. However, Dathan and Eliab did not a want to do that. They complained that it was a set up to put out the eyes of the men who complained. Dathan and Abiram accuse Moses of bring them out into the wilderness but failing to usher them into the promise land. Moses is angered at them. He had taken noting from any of them, nor hurt any of them. Oh, how soon they forget. The reason they had not entered the land was because of their own unbelief. It was not Moses fault. It was their own. Isn’t that true today. We want to blame our failings on someone else.
God consumed Korah are destroyed when the earth opens up and swallows them. Fire also consumed two hundred and fifty who were part of the rebellion when fire form the incense they were offering consumed them. Shouldn’t that have taught all who survived a lesson about rebelling against God? Well, evidently not. The next day came the complaint that Moses had f killed the people of the Lord. To those who complained the wrath of the Lord came out and they were afflicted with a plague. Those who died were 14,700.
One further little tid bit in all this. For those who perished with Korah, Eleazar was to take the censors and hammer them into plates as a covering for the altar., This was to be a memorial to the children of Israel that no outsider, who did not descend from Aaron, was to come near to offer incense to the Lord. If they did they would be consumed like Korah and company. Second, even though there was further rebellion, Aaron took the censer and put fire in it from the alter and put incense in to and ran into the midst of the assembly to make atonement for the people.
No matter how much God di for Israel they still complained and blamed their situation on Moses and Aaron, making plans to return to Egypt. Further, Korah had a cherished place as Levites. The Korathites carried the tabernacle furniture when Israel moved to a new location. Korah complained that Moss and Aaron were running things and not giving the people enough “input.” Who were Moses and Aaron to elevate themselves above all the others. The real reason for Korah’s complaint was that he was not a satisfied assisting the priests; he wanted to be the priest. The selfish desire to be in chare runs all through the Bible. Then, what is there about the human heart that makes it so easy to follow the crowd and disobey the Lord?
The Lord gave Israel three reminders to encourage them to obey His Law and submit to His will: the tassels on their garments, the brass plates on the altar, Aaron’s rod in the holy of holies. Today we have the Lord’s Supper as a reminder of the death of Christ and the promises of God. Will we remember?
In today’s reading God gives His law regarding the offering of sacrifices. Each offering had its regulations – just another reminder that our God is a God of specifics. In this detailed chapter we find grace and judgment. Those who sinned unintentionally could offer certain offerings and their sin would be forgiven (v. 24-26). However one who sinned intentionally, knowing it was wrong and doing it anyway, would be cut off from the people (v. 30-31). Then there’s a vivid example of a man breaking the law – working on the Sabbath day (v. 32-34). It makes you wonder – did he just forget? Did he get distracted with his to-do list? Did he just ignore the law thinking, “It’s no big deal.” All we know is that he disobeyed God and was punished for it.
One of the ways God’s people were to be holy (set apart) like God was through keeping His law (v. 40). I found v. 38 interesting – the creating of tassels on the corner of their garments to remind them not to follow their own hearts/desires, but to follow/keep God’s commands. Do you have reminders in your life? Do you have something that calls your attention to God’s law? It may seem elementary, but it’s worth considering – do I forget God’s law? What would help me remember God and His law? Post-it notes in the car, on the fridge, on the mirror? Daily goals like memorizing a passage each day? Sermons on my ipod/on the CD I listen to in the car on the way to work? The Lord’s Supper is a memorial established for this very purpose – remembering Jesus and His sacrifice (1 Cor. 11: 23-26). If you’re like Israel, you might need a simple reminder, something to redirect your attention to God and His words. Don’t forget. Be holy. Be obedient. Let God’s word direct your steps.
Holy Father, I admit what You know to be true, I tend to forget Your way, Your words, Your commands. I let the desires of my heart lead my paths when I should be led by Your words. Help me to remember. Help me to be like You – holy – set apart in mind, will, and action – shaped and molded by Your words. I love Your words – they are sweet and soothing to the soul like honey from the honeycomb. Thank You for giving Your words. Give me a hunger for Your words, and help me to work to remember them and Your will each day.
Rebelling Against Moses
Following the report of the ten spies in Numbers 10, unbelief and discouragement spread rapidly from heart to heart, and before long, “all the congregation lifted up their voice and cried; and the people wept that night” ( No. 14:1,2,0.) The next day the whole congregation criticized Moses and Aaron lamenting the fact that the nation hadn’t perished in Egypt or in the wilderness. Their eyes were on themselves and their circumstances, they lost perspective and said ridiculous things.
The Jews had a long history of complaining against God and His leaders. Their murmuring began on the night of the Exodus when they were sure Pharaoh’s army was going to kill them (Ex. 14:10-14). As Israel entered the wilderness of Shur, they complained because they did not have enough to drink (Ex. 15:22:2-27). They, they murmured because they missed the delicious meals that were provided in Egypt (Ex. 16). “Would that we had died in Egypt” was their favorite lament.
The nation is weeping over their plight that had been caused by their own unbelief. They blamed God and cried for a new leader to return them to Egypt (No. 14:3-4). Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb tried to get them to change their minds. Moses and Aaron even interceded for them. Joshua and Caleb spoke to the people and assured them God had promised them the land.
The ten unbelieving spies argued that the land of Canaan “would eat them up” (No. 13:32). Joshua and Caleb saw it differently. The saw the Canaanites as easily conquered (No. 14:9). The Jews did not appreciate what Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb were trying to tell them. They decided to try to stone them all
When we walk by sight, we often lack the sense to know who our real friends are and we turn against those who can help us the most.
As a result of their unbelief all age twenty and over would not enter the Promised Land. Moses would lead the world’s longest funeral procession. Joshua and Caleb would enter the land.