“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake image and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will recover.” So Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole. Whenever someone was bitten, and he looked at the bronze snake, he recovered.”
Numbers 21:8-9 HCSB
At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this, but as I read and thought on it, I realized that it isn’t an idol – the Lord was instead looking for obedience. He didn’t ask much – just that the people would look at the bronze snake and be healed. If they didn’t look on it, if they didn’t have the faith to just do that, they wouldn’t be healed.
This all came because the people were complaining about God and Moses, and because they had been hit with an additional hardship, so the Lord sent poisonous snakes among them.
“The Lord spoke to Moses, “Take the staff and assemble the community. You and your brother Aaron are to speak to the rock while they watch, and it will yield its water. You will bring out water for them from the rock and provide drink for the community and their livestock.” So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence just as He had commanded him. Moses and Aaron summoned the assembly in front of the rock, and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels! Must we bring water out of this rock for you? ” Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff, so that a great amount of water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust Me to show My holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land I have given them.””
Numbers 20:7-12 HCSB
Moses obeys God at first, as he always did, but then he struck the rock, as opposed to speaking to it the way the Lord had commanded. The Lord could have withheld the water, but His love was too great – for both the Israelites and Moses and Aaron – had He done this, they would have torn Moses and Aaron apart. He does hold them accountable, though.
I look at this and wonder – am I following God’s will ALL the way through? Am I doing what He wants up to a certain point, then not following through, and as such cheating Him of His rightful glory?
“Anyone who touches a body of a person who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the Lord. That person will be cut off from Israel. He remains unclean because the water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him, and his uncleanness is still on him.”
Numbers 19:13 HCSB
This is a tough chapter for me, mainly because it deals with what is and isn’t ceremonially clean and unclean. This verse speaks to me in an odd way, though. It tells me that someone who is unclean defiles the tabernacle of the Lord, and remains unclean because the water for impurity hasn’t been sprinkled on him. It goes on to say that his uncleanness is on him… In modern (as in the past 2,000+ years) I see this as a metaphor for Jesus’ blood. It purifies me, but I have accepted it. If I choose not to accept it, I am choosing to remain unclean.
““The contribution of their gifts also belongs to you. I have given all the Israelites’ presentation offerings to you and to your sons and daughters as a permanent statute. Every ceremonially clean person in your house may eat it.
“Tell them further: Once you have presented the best part of the tenth, and it is credited to you Levites as the produce of the threshing floor or the winepress, then you and your household may eat it anywhere. It is your wage in return for your work at the tent of meeting.”
Numbers 18:11, 30-31 HCSB
The Lord is telling the Aaron that the Levite’s will be paid their wages due them for working for Him. The Lord does not treat us as slaves. We are laborers for Him and are due our wages.
“The Lord told Moses, “Put Aaron’s staff back in front of the testimony to be kept as a sign for the rebels, so that you may put an end to their complaints before Me, or else they will die.””
Numbers 17:10 HCSB
I read this and am reminded that the Lord has done a great many miracles for me, but I forget easily. The Lord’s word is my reminder. I should be reminded daily.
“When the community assembled against them, Moses and Aaron turned toward the tent of meeting, and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the Lord’s glory appeared. Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, and the Lord said to Moses, “Get away from this community so that I may consume them instantly.” But they fell facedown.”
Numbers 16:42-45 HCSB
This is amazing to me for a number of reasons, but the one that stands out the most is that this happened ONE DAY after someone rebelled against Moses and was swallowed up whole along with his family and possessions. The above verse is in reference to the following day when the Israelites are complaining that Moses and Aaron killed them. The Lord is ready to bring them all to an end, but Moses and Aaron fall facedown and stop the Lord’s anger. This is actually the second time, at the first incident, Aaron plead for mercy for the people, and the Lord relented. In much the same way I see this in Jesus. I see Aaron’s actions as a prophesy of sorts for future events – namely that Jesus plead for mercy for the people who crucified Him. He likely plead for mercy from the Father for the world. He didn’t HAVE to die. He could have refused, and I am sure that His Father would have obliged, but we DID have to die if He didn’t take our punishment. What I am trying to say is that He made a choice – for me!!!
““But the person who acts defiantly, whether native or foreign resident, blasphemes the Lord. That person is to be cut off from his people.”
Numbers 15:30 HCSB
In this chapter, the Lord differentiates between known sin and unintentional sin. Both are sin, and wrong. But sin that is defiant, sin that we do knowing that we are doing it – this verse says that is blaspheming. I know that even this is forgivable, but man! I do not want to be someone who blasphemes the Lord!
“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! ” While the whole community threatened to stone them, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the tent of meeting.”
Numbers 14:6-10 HCSB
Joshua and Caleb are telling the people to trust the Lord, but they are afraid and are getting ready to stone them. Just then, the glory of the Lord appears and stops the procession. He shows His glory and thus saves Joshua, Caleb, Aaron and Moses from the people. Sometimes it seems hopeless and yet at the last minute the Lord intercedes for us.
“Then Caleb quieted the people in the presence of Moses and said, “We must go up and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it! ” But the men who had gone up with him responded, “We can’t go up against the people because they are stronger than we are! ” So they gave a negative report to the Israelites about the land they had scouted: “The land we passed through to explore is one that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of great size.”
Numbers 13:30-32 HCSB
It is easy for me to criticize those who went against Caleb, but all too often I am more like them and less like Caleb. I see obstacles between God’s plans and me, and I think “they are too big! I can never do that!” or “I am not smart enough/good enough/etc.” And this is TRUE! I am probably not smart enough, strong enough, good enough, but that doesn’t matter because I am not the one doing the fighting. All I have to do is sum up the courage and let God take over my battle!! He IS big enough, strong enough, smart enough, whatever.
“Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because of the Cushite woman he married (for he had married a Cushite woman). They said, “Does the Lord speak only through Moses? Does He not also speak through us? ” And the Lord heard it. Moses was a very humble man, more so than any man on the face of the earth.”
Numbers 12:1-3 HCSB
The last verse is what stood out to me, though for context I added the first two verses. I am not sure who wrote Numbers, it wasn’t Moses, that much I know for sure. At any rate, what I find interesting is that Aaron and Miriam are criticizing Moses, yet he doesn’t speak up for himself. He is humble. This must be a type of humbleness that the Lord likes, because shortly after He intercedes for Moses.