Bible Readings for May 6th

Numbers 14 | Psalm 50 | Isaiah 34 | Hebrews 11

If things started to fall apart in Numbers 12, it’s in Numbers 13 and 14 that the situation in Israel completely unravels. Ever since Yahweh promised Abraham he would give Abraham’s offspring the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession (Gen. 12:7, 15:7–21, 17:8), there had really only been one objective for Israel: to take possession of the inheritance Yahweh was giving to them.

Yet somehow, when the time comes for the spies sent into the land to inspire the people of Israel to take hold of their inheritance, they instead rebel against Yahweh, refusing to enter into the land because of their fear of its inhabitants. They even go so far as to claim that the Nephilim from Genesis 6:4 still exist in the land, ready to stomp on Israel like grasshoppers (Num. 13:33).

Certainly, there were seven nations who existed in Canaan, all of whom were more numerous and stronger than Israel (Deut. 7:1), and the peoples of Canaan did live in fortified cities. But, these same Israelites had seen Yahweh deliver them out of Egypt through great signs and wonders, declaring war on Egypt through plagues and shattering the mighty Egyptian army in a single blow in the Red Sea. It is no wonder that we read Yahweh exclaiming, “How long will this people despise me?” and “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me?” (Num. 14:11, 27).

Still, two bright spots shine in this story. First, two of the spies—Caleb and Joshua—do not go along with the other spies but instead give a good report, encouraging Israel to move forward and take possession of their inheritance. For this, only Caleb and Joshua will eventually enter into the Promised Land, leaving the other spies to die in the wilderness along with the rest of Israel (including Moses), and Joshua will in fact take over leadership of Israel from Moses. This story is an important part of his development and preparation for leading Israel, as we will see in the book of Joshua.

Second, Moses once again intercedes on behalf of Israel, keeping Yahweh from wiping them out and starting over with only Moses. Moses’s prayer in Numbers 14:13–19 is a masterclass in prayer, and worthy of careful study.

And in doing this, Moses also gives us a picture of what it looks like for the Son to intercede on our behalf before the Father. Despite the horrible sin they had just committed, Israel’s advocate successfully intercedes for them and secures their pardon.

Meditate, then, on Romans 8:34: “Who is to condemn [us]? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

The gospel announces this good news: We have a mediator who is even greater than Moses.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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