Numbers 13:1-24, Twelve men are sent to Canaan on reconnaissance. (11/17/11)
Everybody loves a good spy story, and this one starts out well. Moses chooses 12 men to perform a reconnaissance of the land of Canaan
Hebron is in the very south of E3 of another one of our maps
, on the road to Jerusalem. Although I don’t see “Eshcol” on the map, we can see that Hebron is toward the foothills of the mountains on the east side of the valley.
Numbers 13:25-33, The spies report back. (11/18/11)
Son of …|
The men Moses sent up to spy out the land of Canaan were impressed. They were impressed with the land and what it produced, and that was good. Unfortunately, except for Caleb, they were overly impressed with the current inhabitants.
Numbers 14:1-9, The people whine and complain. (11/21/11)
One of my family members says, “I’m a whiner, not a quitter!” The children of Israel were whiners, but they were also doing their best to be quitters. The spies reported that the land God was leading them to was a good land, flowing with milk and honey. Unfortunately, this fact weighed much less in their minds than the report that the men of the area were taller than they were (see Numbers 13:32-33).
The people immediately started whining and weeping. “Aaa!” they said. “We want to go back to being overworked, underpaid, abused slaves in a foreign country, forced to expose our baby boys until they die, because these people are taller than we are! Aaaaa!!”
Joshua and Caleb tried to talk some sense into them, to no avail, as we will see tomorrow.
Numbers 14:10-19, God and Moses talk. (11/22/11)
God demonstrated his power in numerous ways for the children of Israel and for the other nations, chiefly Egypt. Through a series of miracles we call the plagues, God forced Pharaoh to release roughly 1,000,000 slaves, a huge economic hit. He gave them manna to eat, water to drink, shoes and garments that didn’t wear out, and quail when they got tired of manna. He gave them a pillar of fire by night and of cloud by day to demonstrate his continual presence among them. He gave them the Law. He spoke to Moses face to face.
After all this, they didn’t think God had the power to deliver on his promise to give them land.
In exasperation, God decided to get rid of them all and start over with Moses. Moses talked him out of it, on two grounds:
- God himself had said that he is slow to anger, merciful, and longsuffering.
- The other nations will make fun of him.
Numbers 14:20-38, God passes judgment. (11/23/11)
God, longsuffering and merciful, decided that Moses was right and the ungrateful Israelites shouldn’t be killed outright. Nevertheless, lack of faith and rebellion against God have their earthly consequences. God says, “Everyone who said he was going to die in the desert was right! You didn’t trust me to lead you out of the desert, so fine! Stay there!”
Our website volunteer has sent us a wonderful map
of the wanderings in the desert. We’re going to be wandering around with the children of Israel for another six weeks, so this map will be useful. But let me say this: any three maps of the wanderings will have four routes. There are two especially important points to remember.
Numbers 14:39-45, Too Little, Too Late (11/24/11)
There’s a big promontory on the Oregon Trail called Independence Rock, where many of the emigrants carved their initials and the date. I’d be thrilled to find my own Oregon-Trail ancestors’ initials there. If we could find a carving that said, “Moses was here, Nissan 14, Year 2,” archeologists and Biblical scholars would be thrilled. Unfortunately, there is no such rock in the Sinai. We don’t know for sure the route they took. So this map will be useful to us, but take it the same way you take my comments – as a study tip, not the final word.
- Note particularly the scale of miles in the lower left. From Goshen to Canaan is maybe 70 miles? With flocks, herds, children, pregnant moms, and arthritic grandmas in handcarts, you could walk there in a week. (The emigrants to Oregon made 10 miles a day under exactly those conditions.) So what took the children of Israel 40 years? The answer is found in today’s reading.
Do you know anyone who just can’t seem to get things straight, no matter what? The children of Israel as a group were prone to this problem. They wanted to leave Egypt and go to Canaan, the Promised Land. Then they wanted to go back to Egypt. Then they thought they were going die in the desert. Then they took a look at the Promised Land and were sure they were going to die, one place or the other.
So when God says, “Fine, go back to the desert for the time being, and I’ll take your children to the Promised Land,” all of a sudden they want to go to the Promised Land now! Moses points out that this would, as usual, be in direct contradiction of what God told them. They are determined, however, and they go anyway. It doesn’t work out.
More Adventures with Moses in the Wilderness
Census and Organization
The Order of March
Failure to Enter Canaan
Laws and Consequences
Complaints in the Desert
Balaam and Barak
Almost Ready to Leave
Getting Close to Canaan
Home at Last!
Copyright 2011, 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.
The illustration showing the view from the summit of Mt. Sinai is from the Thomas family Bible, now in a private collection of a family member.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
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