Numbers 14-15; Psalm 90
Following the bad report of the land of Canaan that was spread throughout the camp by ten of the twelve spies, the people of Israel began to grumble and rebel against Moses and Aaron. Once again, they longed for Egypt, even suggesting they appoint a leader to return them to the very place they had once been in bondage. Hearing this tirade, Moses and Aaron fell down in front of the congregation and Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes, imploring the people to trust God, reminding them of the bounty they found in the land.
In response, the people desired to stone Joshua and Caleb. God had had enough and appeared to the people at the tent of meeting in order to strike them all down. Moses and Aaron interceded and God forgave the people, demonstrating again God’s commitment to His covenant with His people despite their continued rebellion against Him. In punishment for their lack of faith, God declared that not a single person that was alive then, except for Joshua and Caleb, would see the land of promise. When Moses reported God’s words to the people, they wept bitterly. The men responsible for spreading the bad report were struck down by a plague from God.
In a renewed surge of faith, albeit misplaced, some of the people desired to go up to the hill country in order to take the land of promise. Moses told them that God was not with them and to refrain from that venture; however, the people ignored his warning. Since God was not with them, they were soundly defeated by the Amalekites and the Canaanites that lived in the hill country.
God spoke to Moses, providing some additional instructions for various other offerings He desired the people to present once they entered the land of promise. There was even an offering for unintentional sins. Of course sinning blatantly and defiantly against God resulted in that individual being cut off from the people.
One individual was caught gathering wood on the Sabbath. He was taken to Moses and Aaron as the people were unsure what the punishment was to be for this disobedience to God’s command. God told Moses the man must die and the whole assembly was to stone the man. The people did as God commanded.
Numbers 15 concludes with a command by God for the people to make tassels on the corners of their garments with a blue cord on each tassel. The purpose of these tassels was to serve as a reminder of God’s commands.
Psalm 90 is stated to be a prayer of Moses and thus is included in the section on Numbers in this chronological approach to the reading of Scripture. This psalm speaks of God being the dwelling place of His people throughout all their generations, in fact from before the foundation of the world. Moses declared that God brings His people to the point of seeming destruction in order to draw them back to Him. In the perspective of God, even a thousand years is but a drop in the bucket of time. Moses also notes how His people ebb away under His wrath and that the length of their days is seventy or if they are lucky, eighty years in length. Who can grasp the power of God and His anger to the degree that it inspires the fear that is due His holy name? Moses asks God for pity on His people and for God to fill them with His love so their joy may last as long as the days they suffered. One can certainly see Moses penning these words during the time the people continually grumbled against God in their wilderness wanderings.