In Numbers 15 to 17, we see the entire Cycle at work. What do we mean by the “Cycle”? Just follow the bold italic terms, ten of them, in order – they represent the cycle of humanity and God’s plan for us.
As Chapter 15 opens, we see Moses the humble servant of God, in intimate unity with God and we learn what God expects when the Israelites arrive in the land flowing with milk and honey that God is giving them. Next, God gives out his commandments instructing Israel concerning the offerings they are to give in the new land.
Here is where Israel finds out not only what God unequivocally expects from them, but also that, because of their fallen nature, God understands that they will be victims of temptation and disobedience, leading to disunity from him.
We see in Chapter 16 that God gives very fair warning when we are separated from God’s commands, and if we do not listen, God is sure to judge. But his purpose in judgment is to set the stage for his never-ending love. What God wants is for us to repent and simply agree we goofed up. For the sincere, he provides the means for sacrificial atonement so that we may experience complete restoration and unity with God, thus completing the cycle.
But if we continue to sin defiantly and intentionally, judgment is carried out with stern resolve.
All of this is present in Numbers 15 to 17. Of the 105 verses in this section, 33 of them report the cycle of temptation, disobedience, disunity, warnings and judgment! The astonishing thing is that each time there is judgment involving loss of life by the defiant grumblers against Moses and Aaron, Israel turns right around literally hours later and grumbles all over again!
How like them are we in our disunity today! What is the solution to this lost cause of humanity? Using Moses the humble one, God offers us several things for us to think about:
· Remember all God’s commandments and be holy (15:40)
· In the face of open rebellion, show humility, passionate prayer, and non-violence (16:4)
· Vent anger privately to God, not to your assailant (16:15)
· Listen for the whisper of God and obey what you hear (16:47)
· Take your stand between the dead and the living; between disunity and unity (16:48)
Moses and Aaron took their stand to atone for Israel’s blatant sin and stopped God’s plague because of God’s never-ending love for their humility and unity.
Will we humble instead of grumble and take our stand for perfect unity?