Lent Devotion for February 26
"Troubles in the Community"
Reader: "The whole community began weeping aloud,”
Response: "and they cried all night.”
SCRIPTURE: Numbers 14–16
14 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there.6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
The troubles for Moses continue. In the previous chapter, Moses had sent twelve spies to check out the land to which God was sending them. You know the story. Ten spies had no faith in what God had said and Joshua and Caleb believed the Lord. The people wanted to elect a new leader and return to slavery in Egypt! When faith is weak, people divert to old patterns and safety in the past, even if the past was horrible. The Israelites complained about Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership (v.4). God was frustrated with the people after all the miraculous things He had done for them. His conclusion? Wipe them out and start over with Moses. Moses interceded on behalf of these stiff-necked sheep. Moses reminds the Lord of His own words, “…slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion without excusing the guilty.”
The Lord relented and forgave them but the consequences were hard. They would spend one year in the desert for each of the forty days the spies were gone. In addition, everyone over the age of twenty would never see the Promised Land but die in the desert (v.23). In a matter of time, Korah incited another rebellion against Moses’ leadership. This was a magnification of Aaron and Miriam’s earlier gripe. Korah’s claim was that the whole nation had been set apart and did not like the idea that God had set Moses and Aaron to lead as priests. Korah and his followers wanted to be priests as well. God had given very specific instructions regarding the priesthood. Moses issued a challenge to Koran regarding God accepting their offerings as priests. God was clear and, as you read, it did not turn out well for Korah. The ground under him split open and swallowed him and his family and 250 of his followers and then closed over the top of them! In a matter of one day, the complaints against Moses’ leadership began again! We can think how dumb, stubborn, and blind those people were, but how often has God met our personal need for something, and we immediately fret over the next thing that comes up and fail to trust God? God is looking for people that will simply trust and honor Him. Honor Him today as you move through your world. Don’t spend time in the desert. It’s not a pleasant place to be!
"I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” by Moses Hogan Chorale (Watch on YouTube)
Searcher of hearts, it is a good day to me when thou givest me a glimpse of myself. Sin is my greatest evil, but thou art my greatest good; I have cause to loathe myself, and not to seek self-honor, for no one desires to commend his own dunghill. My country, family, church fare worse because of my sins, for sinners bring judgment in thinking sins are small, or that God is not angry with them. Let me not take other good men as my example and think I am good because I am like them, for all good men are not so good as thou desirest, are not always consistent, do not always follow holiness, do not feel eternal good in sore affliction. Show me how to know when a thing is evil which I think is right and good, how to know when what is lawful comes from an evil principle, such as desire for reputation or wealth by usury. Give me grace to recall my needs, my lack of knowing thy will in Scripture, of wisdom to guide others, of daily repentance, want of which keeps thee at bay, of joy in thee and thy will, of love to others. And let me not lay my pipe too short of the fountain, never touching the eternal spring, never drawing down water from above.
- from Valley of Vision, p.69