"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Saturday, June 18, 2022

NUMBERS – From SINAI To The PROMISED LAND: Chapters 20

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

Complete Study of Numbers by pastor Chuck Smith

NUMBERS 20: “MOSES MESSED UP – BIG TIME!” – by Sonny Islas
For the full message, watch it on the Facebook video 

INTRODUCTION: Well, let’s continue to wander with Moses and the gang in the desert as we pick up where we left off last Wednesday in NUMBERS 19.

NUMBERS 20:1-13
1 Then the children of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh; and Miriam died there and was buried there. 2 Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. 3 And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: "If only we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! 4 "Why have you brought up the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? 5 "And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink." 6 So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them. 7 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

8 "Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals." 9 So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him. 10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, "Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?" 11 Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. 12 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." 13 This was the water of Meribah, because the children of Israel contended with the LORD, and He was hallowed among them
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[vs. 1] THE WHOLE CONGREGATION CAME OUT THE WILDERNESS OF ZIN (Means FLAT -LANDS)

The Wilderness of Zin was located near the southeast border of Israel and near the border of Edom (aka Modern Day Jordan). So, they camp very close to the Promised Land, but again, those over 20 years of age would not enter except for Caleb and Joshua (NUM 14:29-31). So close yet so far!

This reminds me of people who are so close to coming into saving faith in Jesus yet for one reason or another they have not entered into His invisible Kingdom. They seem to camp in the wilderness of procrastination near the borders of salvation an eternal life.

Listen to what God says to all who seem to take their sweet time in regard to coming to Jesus to be saved, thinking that they have all the time in the world. To those who camp near the border of saving faith. 
ISAIAH 55:6-7 says
Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
[vs. 1] MIRIAM DIED AND WAS BURIED THERE (IN KADESH)

Commentators say that Miriam’s death serves as a demonstration of God’s promise, when He said, again, only those above 20 years old will enter Canaan.

Miriam was Moses’ older sister and his first sibling to die (the Bible doesn’t say how – no details on her death). Soon after, Aaron’s death would follow. This must have been a very difficult time for Moses because, I’m sure that he loved Miriam very much. I have two sisters myself and this would be painful for sure.

My guess is that Moses reacting the way he did, out of anger and frustration in verse 10 was no doubt connected to his fresh pain towards his sister’s death. He just got done burying Miriam with fresh tears on his face I’m sure and not long after the congregation starts their fierce complaining again.

Here’s a golden lesson for those who serve in ministry (for everyone really):

We have to make sure that when painful personal issues arise that we don’t take them out on God’s people – like Moses here. This is why I think that it takes special people to serve God’s people, because issues of all sorts arise from all directions and we’re called to keep calm and collected in the LORD’s strength, instead of falling apart and hurting everyone with our personal problems.

Miriam was an interesting Bible character and role player in Moses’ life and ministry:

In EXODUS 2:4-8 little Miriam plays a vital part in making sure that Moses gets to Pharaoh's daughter safely. In EXODUS 15:20-21 after the stunning Red Sea crossing, Miriam becomes a temporary worship leader and songwriter as she sings praises to the One who gave them the victory over Pharoah, singing,

“Sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He have thrown into the sea!” It was a short song, but it was a hit song in the wilderness – at first, I’m sure. Then we have the record of the infamous Miriam in NUMBERS 12, where she became envious of her brother Moses and was struck with leprosy for a week because of it.

Like us all, Miriam had her highs and lows. At times she soared like the eagles and at times she gobbled with the turkeys.

[vs. 2] NOW THERE WAS NO WATER FOR THE CONGREGATION: No water in the desert is a desperate situation. We can live without food for a time (before we become hangry) but water is an immediate need – especially under the scorching sun. But this problem was nothing new, they needed water back in EXODUS 17 and the LORD miraculously provided. He was ready to do it again, with or with their complaints.

[vs. 3] They said IF ONLY WE HAD DIED WHEN OUR BRETHREN DIED: In other words, they wished they had died in the Korah rebellion back in NUMBERS 16! They would rather be swallowed up by a sinkhole or burned alive or struck with a deadly sickness than to be thirsty in the desert! At this point, these people don’t have an ounce of hope or trust in the LORD – yet God in His goodness provides them tons of fresh drinking water.

[vs. 5] I find it a bit ironic that people called the wilderness an “EVIL PLACE,” because God was with them and every place where the LORD is, is holy ground. Their eyes were fixed on Egypt and Egyptian delicacies rather than on God Himself and the sheer joy of being His people and being in His presence.

[vs. 6] So Moses and Aaron do what’s best, remove yourself from the presence of the complainers to pray in the presence of God for guidance in this harsh situation. When we don’t know what to do – let’s go to God in prayer and for direction.
1 PETER 5:7 says,
Cast ALL your burdens upon Jesus, for he cares for you.
This is the reason why disciples of Christ can keep going on in life come hell or high water and keep pressing on in taxing ministry work – because we have a God who can carry all our loads on one pinkie finger!
And He welcomes all our loads with a smile on His Face!

Listen, if Moses didn’t have Yahweh to turn to, Moses wouldn’t last too long. The same goes for us.

[vs. 7-13] Here is where Moses messes up – big time! God clearly and specifically told Moses to ‘’SPEAK TO THE ROCK’’ but Moses in his untamed anger mixed with a dash of revenge chose to strike the rock instead! Moses’ anger got the best of him.

Here we can see how untamed anger can distort the Word of God in our hearts and cause us to operate according to our emotions instead of clear biblical truth. Undealt with inner anger and frustration will eventually display itself in rage instead of Christlike humility.

Because of Moses’ personal vendetta, He misrepresented the LORD. At this point and in this scene, Moses was angry – not God. God was not hallowed, that is, respected by Moses before the people because Moses disobeyed God. Moses did what he wanted to do and not what God had commanded. It’s true that in EXODUS 17 God commanded Moses to strike the rock for water to gush out BUT NOT THIS TIME.

Moses obeyed God partially – Moses took up the rid as God had commanded BUT Moses didn’t follow through with the entire command by striking the rock instead of speaking to it.

We have to be careful not to obey God partially. Let’s aim to obey God fully and in every situation. Instead of speaking to the rock like God had commanded, Moses some to Israel and in a harsh way.

In verse 12 God told Moses and Aaron (for going along with Moses instead of God) “Because you did not believe Me (obey Me), to hallow Me (or to honor Him by our public obedience) in the eyes of the children of Israel, THEREFORE YOU SHALL NOT BRING THIS ASSEMBLY INTO THE LAND which I have given them.”

In other words, “because of your blatant disobedience, your leadership days here and now are over” (as we know, Joshua would soon finish what Moses didn’t).

Moses’ disobedience was very costly. One would think that keeping Moses out of the Promised land because of this one rebellious act is too much – but what we must understand is that spiritual leaders are held at a higher standard of accountability.

This also shows us that God is no respecter of persons - This was a golden lesson for the people and that is that God is not partial. Moses was not beyond reproof and severe correction. Again, leaders are held at a higher standard -because when they willfully sin, they know better. This was a clear picture of reality.

This is also a picture of how our private and public sinful actions can hold us back from some of things God had in store for us – like we see with poor Mo here. His sin kept him back from leading Israel into Canaan. Today’s sins can cause us to lose out on future blessings.

Regarding the Rock that Moses struck, Paul says that the Rock was Christ in
1 CORINTHIANS 10:4
…and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ
.
Jesus is the Rock that gives us living waters! He fills our souls with refreshing truth!

NUMBERS 20:14-21
14 Now Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom. "Thus says your brother Israel: 'You know all the hardship that has befallen us, 15 'how our fathers went down to Egypt, and we dwelt in Egypt a long time, and the Egyptians afflicted us and our fathers. 16 'When we cried out to the LORD, He heard our voice and sent the Angel and brought us up out of Egypt; now here we are in Kadesh, a city on the edge of your border. 17 'Please let us pass through your country. We will not pass through fields or vineyards, nor will we drink water from wells; we will go along the King's Highway; we will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.'" 18 Then Edom said to him, "You shall not pass through my land, lest I come out against you with the sword." 19 So the children of Israel said to him, "We will go by the Highway, and if I or my livestock drink any of your water, then I will pay for it; let me only pass through on foot, nothing more." 20 Then he said, "You shall not pass through." So Edom came out against them with many men and with a strong hand. 21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his territory; so Israel turned away from him
.

At this point Moses wanted to get the congregation of Israel as close as possible to the Promised Land. The closest they’ve been yet. BUT their blood relative Edom (descendants of Esau, Jacob’s/Israel’s brother), would not allow it.

I can’t help but see the spiritual point here and that is, God was the One who stopped Moses from getting any closer. And listen, this may sound strange to some of us, BUT there may be times when the LORD will not allow us to go forward with our plans because of certain sin in our lives. But of course this is all hidden in the mind of God who is in control of all things. So don’t let this paralyze you – but just know that we may have plans, but God has the last word. God is in charge of the heavenly green, red and yellow light.

NUMBERS 20:22-29
22 Then the children of Israel, the whole congregation, journeyed from Kadesh and came to Mount Hor. 23 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in Mount Hor by the border of the land of Edom, saying: 24 "Aaron shall be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against My word at the water of Meribah. 25 "Take Aaron and Eleazar his son and bring them up to Mount Hor; 26 "and strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son; for Aaron shall be gathered to his people and die there." 27 So Moses did just as the LORD commanded, and they went up to Mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation. 28 Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there on the top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. 29 Now when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, all the house of Israel mourned for Aaron thirty days
.

This portion of scripture is very sad. Imagine the moment. Moses recently lost his sister Miriam, then he was told by God that his leadership is coming to an end because of his sin. Now His brother Aaron, whom he served alongside for years now and in one sense raised up, is now going to be stripped of his priesthood and be replaced by his son, then be put to death by God. This must have been a bit shameful too – especially for Aaron – as his holy garments are stripped from him and given to another, that is, his son.

King Saul experienced this stripping of his kingship and kingdom (1 KINGS 11:31-37; 1 SAM 15:23-28) for continuously disobeying God and was given to King David. By the way, Aaron dying on a mountain was a picture of Jesus the true High Priest who would also die on a mount, called Cavalry or Golgotha (the place of the skull).

Again, God has no problem replacing leaders who fail to honor Him in the ministry work before His people.

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