The first verse of Numbers chapters 11-14 is a stunning reversal from the calm before the storm (previous blog) to incurring the storm of God’s judgment. The earlier history of the world revolved around Israel – chosen, loved passionately, guided and taught by God.
God expected unity with him in everything. Israel completely understood.
But Israel fell self-inflicted to the Cycle of temptation, disobedience, disunity, warnings and horrible judgment.
The people became tempted to complain about the harsh conditions in the wilderness. The Lord’s anger was kindled and he warned them with a fire that consumed an area outside the camp. Moses prayed for them and the fire stopped. But the people continued to complain that they had no meat to eat, just that tasteless manna God kept dropping every morning. And God’s anger was kindled again.
In total frustration, Moses, the most humble man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3), did a very smart thing – he poured out his heart to the Lord, saying, “I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me” (Numbers 11:14, NASB). God’s love for Moses was never-ending love and he stepped in to help.
But from this point, just in these four chapters, there were fifty events of temptation, disobedience, warnings from God and finally a major plague of punishment by God. And it is safe to say that this pattern will continue throughout the remainder of the Old Testament, with the Cycle being repeated over and over.
That is because there was no one who could carry the burden of this people and save them from themselves.
Is this the point of no return? Is our future the same as the past?
Go back with me to Moses when he poured out his heart to God. Picture that scene in your mind. Was Moses prostrate in the dirt, perhaps pounding the ground in despair, his tears muddying his face?
Later in history there was to be another who faced a nearly identical dilemma; another who was asked to bear the burden of humanity; another who cried out to God in frustration and sweated beads of blood; another who asked why God had forsaken him.
But this man was God himself, temporarily human for the sole purpose of doing what Moses could not do – take on the sins of the world.
This man, by acquiescing to the will of his father, gave himself in return for all humanity’s failures. He determined that there is a point of return to the never-ending love of God and restoration by God to unity with God.
The future of the world:
“…to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance…and all who were angry at Him will be put to shame…in the Lord all the offspring of Israel will be justified and will glory” (Isaiah 45:23-25, NASB).