03 March 2015

BSF 2014-2015: Numbers 20, Psalm 90

This week, we jump ahead 38 years after the Israelites began their wandering in the desert.

Moses’ sister, Miriam, dies. After this, the Israelites again complain about a lack of water. This is the second generation, the children of the first people who complained to God earlier in our study this year. Thirty-eight years later, their descendants are guilty of the same sin.

The Lord appears to Moses and Aaron. He tells them to speak to a rock so it will pour out water. God does not rebuke or punish the people for their complaining but meets their need in a supernatural way.

Even though God gave clear instructions to Moses and Aaron, they disobey. Moses strikes the rock two times instead of speaking to it. Moses does not trust that God can provide water with only his words. And Moses and Aaron try to take glory from God (vs. 10). But God still blesses the people with water even though Moses sins.

God punishes Moses and Aaron for their sin – they will not enter the Promised Land.

The Israelites continue to travel toward the Promised Land. Moses sends messengers to the king of Edom, asking permission for the Israelites to travel through the king’s land. The king refuses. Moses humbly obeys and takes the Israelites around Edom.

The Edomites were descendants of Jacob’s brother, Esau. Jacob stole Esau’s birthright. Since then, their descendants were in conflict with each other.

In the year the Israelites will enter the Promised Land, Moses and Aaron, along with Aaron’s son Eleazar, go up Mount Hor. Moses puts Aaron’s priestly garments on Eleazar, making him the new high priest. Then Aaron dies. God graciously allows Aaron to see his son become the new high priest. The people mourn Aaron for 30 days.

Now, let’s look at Psalm 90. This psalm is a prayer of Moses and may have been written around the time of Aaron’s death. In this psalm, Moses tells us that life is brief, so we must make the most of it. He also tells us that life is difficult and sometimes seems futile. But he reminds us that God is eternal, our dwelling place, all-knowing, the author of time and unlimited by anything.

Things to Think About

  • God sees all sin as rebellion against Him. Our punishment and consequences are up to God; we have no authority to comment on them.
  • What is my first response in difficult decisions – complaining or praying?
  • Moses and Aaron did not speak back to God when He handed down the consequences for their sin. Am I willing to accept God’s discipline without fighting back?
  • When someone wrongs me, is my first response to fight or to yield?
  • When I experience bumps in the journey of life, I should reflect on God’s character and allow Him to strengthen me.