Numbers 1 - Deuteronomy 13
Well, I cheated a bit. I downloaded the audio file of Numbers from The Bible Experience on iTunes and listened to Numbers rather than read it. I really like The Bible Experience - they've got background sound effects and different people reading the different characters and emotions in the voices and such.
So now I'm all caught up on yesterday and today's reading.
Anwho - thoughts on Numbers.
I love Moses. Seriously. I've never noticed before how often he "talks back to" God. God will say "I'm going to do this!" and Moses will say, "Uh. What if you did this instead?" It's kind of funny.
A few examples:
The Israelites are being their whiny selves (oh how I see me in them!) and complaining about the food (manna, manna, everywhere!) and how at least in Egypt they had fish and saying that God just brought them out to the dessert to die!
This makes God rather angry. Moses prayed. God didn't destroy them. They started complaining again. God gets angry again. And here is where I literally laughed out loud at what Moses said to God.
In summary he says: "What did I do to deserve the burden of these people? I'm not their dad! They keep whining to me. If this is what I have to put up with to be their leader then just go ahead and kill me, God!
Moses is so fed up. I love it. He's so human. And - for whatever reason - he gets away with doing a little "whining" to God. God describes Moses as a friend to whom he speaks face-to-face. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that Moses doesn't seem afraid to question God. He is totally ok getting mad at God - but he always waits for an answer - which I think is the key. The Israelites assume they have the answer and that God has forgotten them - Moses waits for God to answer. And - Moses speaks directly to God. The Israelites complain through Moses - they aren't going straight to God.
And God, once again. shows mercy and doesn't destroy the ungrateful Israelites. He gives them meat. An entire month of ravens. They'll have ravens "until it comes out of [their] nostrils and [they] loathe it" (11:19). Looks like Moses isn't the only one fed up! It does show a precedent though for God's allowance for our free will/free desire I think. He gives them meat here - later he'll give them a king that they demand. I wonder how many things in my life I was given simply because I kept demanding it of God - only to have them turn out less-than-perfect.
A bit later in the book Moses sends out spies into what is the Promised Land to get a report. They come back and many report that the land is full of people stronger than they are - that there is no way they can take the land. The Israelites once again begin their complaining. This once again brings on God's anger. He says he's going to strike the Israelites with a plague.
Everyone but Moses. He'll start over with Moses. (14:12) And, Moses, once again petitions God with words that would get him labeled a heretic by many proper Christians: "Then the Egyptians will hear about it! . . .They will tell the inhabitants of the land about it. They have already heard that you, O LORD, are with these people and that you, O LORD, have seen them face to face . . . If you put these people to death all at one time, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 'The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath; so he slaughtered them in the desert."
I mean. seriously. I love Moses. I can just kind of picture him going, "Now, Lord. This is not a very good PR move. I mean - people get wind of the fact that you promised these folks a promised land and then killed them all before they got there. . . well - they're gonna say you couldn't do it. I mean - we both know it's because their whining is just non stop - but - well, those other people - they aren't going to think you're powerful." And the best part? God listens. He doesn't destroy them. He sentences them to more time in the desert for their disbelief - but he doesn't destroy them.
If you look at Moses' reasoning with God - it all comes back to that central point: It's about God's glory. It's about His name being made great among all the nations of the Earth. That's the purpose of it all.