Scripture reading for February 16th: Numbers 17-20
Sin is a malady of the human race that permeates all men. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God! (Romans 3:23) The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) Our reading today records the deaths of brother Aaron and sister Miriam. Moses also is told that he, too, will not be allowed to enter the promised land, but must be gathered to his people.
The first to pass from the scene was Miriam, the older sister of Moses. (Numbers 20:1) Miriam was a prophetess who used her tambourine to prophesy and led the Israelite women in a victory celebration after the miracle of God’s deliverance at the Red Sea. (Exodus 15:20-21) Miriam got into trouble when she talked about Moses because of his Cushite wife. She was jealous of her younger brother and evidently wanted to have some of his authority. (Numbers 12:1-3, 9-12) She was struck with leprosy and was put out of the camp for a week, then healed as Moses prayed for her. Miriam was greatly used of God and gifted, but died without entering the promised land.
Aaron and Moses were faced with grumbling yet again because of a lack of water in the Desert of Zin. Moses and Aaron went before the Lord and again fell face-down. (Numbers 20:6-8) God spoke to them and told them to take the staff from the Lord’s presence and speak to the rock and it would gush water for them and their livestock. However, Moses and Aaron obeyed only partially. They did take the staff, but in anger Moses ridiculed his brothers and struck the rock twice with the staff. (Numbers 20: 9-10)
Moses and Aaron were rebuked by the Lord for dishonoring Him before the people. The penalty would be no entry into the promised land. Everyone wanted to be the leader and many tried to take Moses’ place over the years. Now at the end of the journey, Moses is disqualified because of anger and frustration that led to striking the rock twice instead of speaking to it!
In truth, God is merciful! He is teaching His people that the law, represented by Moses, cannot take anyone into the promised land! It is only grace through faith that can take us all the way! Joshua (Jesus) is the one who by faith would lead God’s people into the land to possess it.
Scripture reading for January 24: Exodus 16-18
For some reason, I’ve been in leadership positions all my life! I’ve always felt inadequate and usually haven’t sought a leadership position; others always seemed to volunteer me. As I’ve worked leading in various secular and church positions, I’ve become acutely aware of my inability to please everyone. Moses soon learned this same truth! There are as many opinions as there are people under you and Moses had over a million “followers”!
In the passages of the last few days, God’s redeemed people were delivered from Egypt by a mighty act of power by the Lord, and then from Pharaoh’s pursuing army! Led by Miriam, Moses’ sister, they danced in joy and sang a song of deliverance! Redeemed people sometimes expect everything to be handed to them and that their lives will be some kind of fairy tale where they live happily ever after. This picture is soon in need of readjustment as troubles bring us to acknowledge our lack of faith.
A few days after the victory celebration, the Israelites faced hunger and began to grumble. They blamed Moses for his poor leadership and for bringing them out into the desert to die. (Exodus 16:3) God met their need! A little farther into the walk, they ran out of water and began to grumble again, quarreling with Moses. Their hearts were angry and hard and they blamed their leader, actually blaming God! (Exodus 16:8) Each time, God came to Moses’ rescue!
Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came for a visit to bring back Moses’ wife and two sons. Jethro was thrilled to hear the stories of God’s deliverance through his son-in-law. He observed Moses sitting in judgment with all the people coming to him with their complaints. His advice to Moses was to raise up some helpers to share the load of leadership. Moses should just handle the ‘hard’ cases and let the others do the rest! What a life-saver for this leader!
Lessons for today are plain. First, pray and obey before you complain! When you grumble about your leader, you are grumbling about God! Listen to your leadership and support them by prayer and encouragement! Don’t test or blame God; He is never at fault! (He makes no mistakes) If you are a leader, raise up those who can help you with the work. Sharing the load makes sense and enables others with giftings to share in the blessing and be a part of the solution! Leadership is a joy when you take these tips and your followers do, too! The main one to please in all of this is God. May His face be smiling on your leadership!
“ For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”