Sin and The Gospel by the Numbers (Pt 1)

I’ve taken on the task of reading through the Bible in the last six months of this year.  Typically I read through the Word each year, but spent the first half of this year doing a somewhat different reading plan.  But decided to now go back and sweep through God’s Book in 6 months, which has me currently in the Book of Numbers.

My reading has been so enthralling that I am compelled to share a 4-5 part series from Numbers Chapters 12-16 or so.  This Book often gets a bad wrap (perhaps second only to Leviticus).  But there is a massive amount of gospel in Numbers.  So, buckle up, put your trays and seat backs in the upright and locked position, and prepare for take-off.

After the people murmur against Moses (and ultimately God), whining about their Divinely-provided manna, God sends quail in droves upon the camp of Israel.  But the greed of Israel in gathering the birds angered God and He sent a plague upon them and killed all those who gathered in greed instead of gratitude (Num 11).

The very next Chapter records Moses’ own sister and brother (Meriam and Aaron the High Priest) rebuking Moses for marrying a Cushite woman.  But apparently this was not really about a marriage:

And they said, ‘Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses?  Has He not spoken through us as well?’  And the Lord heard it” (v. 2).  

Jealousy.  By this time in the journey of Israel with God, there should be no question as to Moses’ God-given authority.  He’s the “go-between.”  Moses represents God to the people and the people to God.  He mediates.  He intercedes.  He receives God’s word and then proclaims it exactly as God gave it.  He judges and adjudicates disputes.  In today’s parlance, “Moses is da man.”

So, please note that we have recorded for us these words: “And the Lord heard it.”  God has never taken words against His appointed men lightly.  This carries into the New Testament (1 Tim 5:19) but I digress.  For now we note that God took note.

Then, these words: “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth” (v. 3).

Wow!  Miriam’s words were not spoken justifiably.  Her words were spoken against the world’s most humble man!  So, we as readers know who is in the right and who is in the wrong here.  We’ve got insider information.

Miriam and Aaron want some power and authority, but we must recall that Moses never asked for this job!  HE WAS CHOSEN FOR IT BY GOD.  So, little wonder that God fights for Moses.  He will not need to defend himself against his jealous family, nor would he, being the world’s most humble man.

Long story short, God calls out Moses, Miriam and Aaron, and winds up striking Miriam with leprosy.  And in the process, the Lord holds up Moses as even more than a prophet (vv. 7-8).  God speaks with this man “mouth to mouth.”

Aaron begs Moses for mercy and confesses his sin, and then Moses pleads with God for mercy on his power-hungry sister (vv. 12-13).  The narrative makes it seem as if she is not yet repentant, as we have no record of her confession or plea for mercy.  She is stiff-necked and has essentially spit in God’s face (v. 14), which is probably why God strikes her with leprosy.  Far too often, we must be brought to the valley of death before we give up our filth.  

Mercifully, God does heal her, but only after she is quarantined outside the camp for 7 days as one unclean.  The whole camp of Israel is forced to remain in place for a week, making them more susceptible to enemy attack, all because of one unrepentant sinner (vv. 15-16).  Sin always hurts and impacts others, even so-called private sins.

Sin, you see, makes us dirty.  It casts us outside the camp (the presence) of Holy God.  It matters not whether anybody hears or sees our sin.  The Lord hears and sees.  But thankfully, the Lord gives mercy through His chosen mediator, servant and prophet.  In this case, that was Moses.  But Moses is dead and gone.  His life and ministry served only to point us to the risen and living Mediator Jesus the Christ.  Moses’ mediation and intercessions worked only temporarily to stave off God’s wrath, as we shall see in this series of blog entries.  But Jesus’ mediation and intercession is forever!  

“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb 10:14).      

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