Lucia's Blog: THE LAW AND THE WILDERNESS - THE LAW WAS GIVEN FOR THE LAWLESS
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

THE LAW AND THE WILDERNESS - THE LAW WAS GIVEN FOR THE LAWLESS


 "Realizing the fact that Law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, .... and whatever is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God."  
I Timothy 1:9-11 NASB


The slave nation of Israel needed to learn how to behave like free men of God, restraining their appetites and serving the righteous and holy God who had rescued them from slavery.  In their ignorance and superstition, they were still slaves of their passions and the darkness of their old desires.  They still had a lot to learn from their Savior, Jehovah God.

THE GOLDEN CALF  ( Exodus 32:33:6)



While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the laws, the Israelites were becoming restless.  Since they could not see God, they became frightened and chose in their hearts to fashion an image of a god that made sense to them. An idol image like the Egyptians had. They made a calf idol. This calf idol may have been fashioned on the Egyptian bull god, Apis. When Moses saw this image, he could not help but get outraged, breaking the stone tablets.

MIRIAM AND AARON MURMUR AGAINST MOSES  (Numbers 12)
    

In Numbers chapter 12, Miriam and Aaron murmur against Moses regarding his wife who happened to be a Cushite woman. They said, "Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?"  And the Lord heard it.  Remember that the LORD praises Moses above all other prophets that were on the face of the earth. Because of this murmuring against God's chosen, Moses, the anger of the LORD was on them. Miriam was struck with leprosy and Aaron is forced to confess his wrongdoing. Moses pleaded with God in prayer in her behalf. After seven days of being separated from the camp, Miriam is restored. The following is the historical account as found in Numbers 12:1-16.

"Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman); and they said, ‘Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?’ And the Lord heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.). Suddenly the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, ‘You three come out to the tent of meeting.’ So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, He said, .... So the anger of the Lord burned against them and He departed.... , behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses, ‘Oh, my lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned. Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother’s womb!’ Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, ‘O God, heal her, I pray!’ But the Lord said to Moses, ‘If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.’ So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again." 

SPYING OUT THE LAND  (Numbers 13-14)

Eventually, the Israelites left Sinai heading toward Canaan, the Promised Land. They stopped in the Desert of Zin at Kadesh, just at the edge of the Promised Land. There were twelve men chosen, one from each tribe, to go and explore the land bringing back a report. They were given an extensive list of things to investigate. This list included: living conditions, locations of towns, soil conditions, people, and produce. Hoshea, the son of Nun, was chosen as the scout. He was from the tribe of Ephraim. This Hoshea was actually Joshua, who later led His people into Canaan. Moses changed his name to Joshua, meaning "The LORD saves."

The scouts journeyed from Canaan for forty days and then returned, bringing grapes, pomegranates, and figs with them from the Promised Land. Their report about the land began on a positive note since they had seen that the land was rich and fertile. But when they gave a frightening report on the people of the land, and about how strong and overwhelming they were, the Israelites became frightened listening to their stories. These became more exaggerated and horrid as they went on telling their stories. Fortunately, two of the scouts remained confident, but the other ten spread doubt and began murmuring against Moses and Aaron among them. The Israelites began to question whether or not they would be able to conquer the Promised Land demanding a new leadership.

Moses and Aaron in response to this grumbling and complaining fell face down in front of the people.  Number 14:5. The Israelites' doubting and murmuring were a direct assault on God's leadership as well as His promises. And Moses and Aaron were preparing themselves for God's judgment against the people of Israel, Numbers 16:4, 22, 45: 20:6.

Caleb and Joshua to calm the Israelites about their murmuring began pleading for the Israelites to move into the land by telling them to trust God. "Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.”  They wanted to reassure them that God was going to keep His promises and would take care of them.  But, not being satisfied, they began talking among themselves about stoning their leaders. 
 
"All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?’  So they said to one another, ‘Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.’ Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, ‘The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.’  But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel." Numbers 14:1-10 NASB.

And this is when the LORD stepped in saying, "The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they."  Numbers 14:11-12 NASB.

Moses kindly interceded for His people before the LORD.  He persuaded God to forgive them.  And He did!  But despite His forgiveness, God did not allow them to enter the Promised Land. The Israelites were forced to wander in the wilderness until all the adults from twenty years old and upward who had murmured against Him had died. Only their children then under twenty years of age would be allowed to enter the Promised Land, along with Caleb and Joshua.  Numbers 14:20-35.  That is so sad!

Again, in rebellion, the people of Israel chose to disobey God deciding to go to the Promised Land and take possession by taking a part of it to themselves.  This was without Moses' blessing.  Tragically the Amalekites and the Canaanites came down and struck them and drove them out as far as Hormah, Number 14:45 NASB.  So they wandered grumbling in the wilderness for forty years. The LORD provided for them and cared for them in spite of their rebellion throughout this time.  He kept guiding them!

They continued grumbling and murmuring as in the case of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.  Korah took men from among the congregation who gathered together against Moses and Aaron unto the door of the Tabernacle. This is when the glory of the LORD appeared to them, and the LORD told Moses and Aaron saying "Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.’ But they fell on their faces and said, ‘O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?"  The LORD again speaks with Moses to speak on behalf of Him.

He spoke with the elders of Israel who followed Him. This is what Moses told the congregation, "Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin.’ So they gathered up their wives, sons and their little children and stood in the door of their tents. Moses then said to them, ‘By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the Lord.’  As Moses finished speaking the ground that was under them split open and the earth opened its mouth swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions."  Numbers 16:26-32 NASB.



Fire then came forth from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense which were not of the seed of Aaron. What a terrible thing it is to fall into the hands of an angry God!!
 

Again, the Israelites began grumbling gathering and rebelling against Moses and Aaron. The glory of the LORD appeared before the Tabernacle, and the LORD said to Moses, "Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly. Then they fell on their faces."  Numbers 16:45 NASB.  Moses then told Aaron to take up his censor putting in fire from the altar laying incense on it.  He then quickly brought it to the congregation and made atonement for them since God's judgment and wrath had begun. There was a plague among the people.  So He put on the incense making atonement for the people.  The plague killed 14,700, besides those who died on account of Korah. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the doorway of the tent of meeting, for the plague had been checked.  Numbers 16:46-50.


In Chapter 17 of Numbers, the LORD told Moses to bring a staff from each tribal leader, twelve rods, to the Tabernacle to stop the grumbling. Aaron's staff blossomed.

In Chapter 18 of Numbers, the LORD told Aaron: “To the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting."

In Chapter 19 of Numbers, The LORD told Moses and Aaron to burn a heifer outside the camp for the water of cleansing. Anyone who is unclean and does not cleanse themselves shall be cut off.

In Chapter 20 of Numbers, The LORD told Moses to speak to a rock to produce water but instead he disobeyed and did not sanctify Him striking the rock. In this chapter, Edom refused Israel passage, and Aaron died on Mount Hor.

In Chapter 21 of Numbers, the people grumbled again, so the LORD sent snakes. Moses made a bronze snake and whoever looked at it lived. The inspired account is found in verses 6-9.

"The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived."

Also in this chapter, the Israelites defeated the Amorites of Heshbon and Bashan. Thus Israel lived in the land of the Amorites and possessed the land.  The brief account of this conquest is recorded in verses 21-31.

"Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, saying, ‘Let me pass through your land. We will not turn off into field or vineyard; we will not drink water from wells. We will go by the king’s highway until we have passed through your border.’ But Sihon would not permit Israel to pass through his border. So Sihon gathered all his people and went out against Israel in the wilderness, and came to Jahaz and fought against Israel. Then Israel struck him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the sons of Ammon; for the border of the sons of Ammon was Jazer. Israel took all these cities and Israel lived in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all her villages. For Heshbon was the city of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken all his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon..."  

WATER FROM THE ROCK  (Numbers 20:1-13 and 27:12-14)

After some time had passed, the Israelites passed again through the Desert of Zin, at Kadesh. Miriam, Moses and Aaron's sister, died and was buried there. Where they decided to camp, there was a shortage of water. The quarreling began. Again, the Israelites began to moan and grumble about their hard luck. They were wishing and longing for the good old days in Egypt. They longed for the figs, grapes and pomegranates of the Promised Land. It is evident that they never learned their lesson!

Again, Moses and Aaron, realizing that the judgment of God against their grumblings was likely to happen, both fell face down on the ground. The Lord's glory filled the place. God then instructed Moses saying:

1. Take the rod
2. Gather the people
3. Speak to the rock

Then water would pour from the rock.   



Instead, Moses:
1. Took the rod
2. Gathered the people
3. Spoke to the people
4. Struck the rock

Still, water poured from the rock.

But the LORD became angry with Moses. Remember, God had instructed Moses to speak to the rock, asking for water. He had stood before the people gathered in a solemn assembly before the rock. The purpose of this was to demonstrate God's provision for His people's needs. Instead, Moses spoke to the people himself, striking the rock as though he was the provider of the water himself. Moses' problem was that he refused to sanctify God.  The following is what God said to him, "But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them."  Numbers 20:12 NASB.  How sad it is that Moses and his brethren lost their right to go to the Promised Land!


The LORD did allow Moses to see the Promised Land before he died. He viewed the land from Mount Nebo of the Abarim Mountain. This is what the LORD told Moses, "Go up to this mountain of Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel for a possession. Then die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel."  Deuteronomy 32:48-52. (See also Numbers 27:12-17).

 
Joshua is appointed to succeed Moses. "So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and commission him in their sight. You shall put some of your authority on him, in order that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may obey him. Moreover, he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the Lord. At his command they shall go out and at his command they shall come in, both he and the sons of Israel with him, even all the congregation.’ Moses did just as the Lord commanded him; and he took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses."  Numbers 27:18-23 NASB.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

In Exodus 20, we read of  Ten Commandments and again in Deuteronomy 5.  These were spoken by God to Moses on Mount Sinai/Horeb and then carved by God into two tablets of stone, Deuteronomy 5:22.

When our Lord Jesus was asked in Matthew 22:36-40 and also in Mark 12:28-34 which Commandment was the greatest, He said,

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

Notice that the first part of Jesus' response came from Deuteronomy 6:5, and the second part came from Leviticus 19:18.

These two passages summarize the Ten Commandments:  The first 3 or 4 Commandments deal with loving God while the last 7 or 6 Commandments involve loving others, that is to say, our neighbor.  The Sabbath Commandment, number 4, was a day of rest for them where they merely worshiped God, but it was also a day to rest. Today, we Christians, do not keep the Sabbath, but we do assemble to remember the death and resurrection of Christ on the First Day of the week, which falls on Sunday.  The rest of the Commandments have been given again under the authority of Jesus our Lord!

The Ten Commandments
No other gods
No idols
Honor God's name
Rest of Sabbath
Honor your parents
Do not murder
Do not commit adultery
Do not steal
Do not lie
Do not covet


SACRIFICES AND THE THREE ANNUAL FESTIVALS

In Numbers 28-29 we read of the sacrifices that the LORD commanded the Israelites to offer daily as well as for Sabbaths and other festivals. There were three annual feasts for the Israelites which were: The Passover which was the first feast of the year. The second feast was the Feast of Weeks.  The third feast was the Feast of the Tabernacles.  These are found in Exodus 23:14-19; Exodus 24; Leviticus 23, Deuteronomy 16:1-13.

THE FEAST OF THE TABERNACLES (SUKKOTH)

The Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles comes from Leviticus 23:33-44.  This festival is observed on the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, which falls either in September or October of their modern calendar. The people were to erect booths called, Sukkoth, according to the law in Leviticus:


"Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. 'I am the Lord your God.' So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of the Lord."  Leviticus 23:40-44 NASB.

This celebration commemorates the Israelites' time in the wilderness and also is associated with the end of the harvest year. On the first day and the eighth day, the Israelites were to present burnt offerings to the LORD. They were to live in booths on all of these days. These booths were made out of branches and were often decorated with pictures and verses.


CONCLUSION

The Wilderness experience taught the young nation of Israel some of the fundamentals of trusting and obeying God.  Often we face this problem as Christians.  We do not want to leave behind the old man of sin getting stuck in the past way of thinking and living, rather than letting the new man of righteousness live in us.  Their trust was in the flesh rather than in God.  This brings to mind what the Apostle Paul said by inspiration of God, " But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ..."  Philippians 3:7-11.  May the Lord help us to learn from the experiences of these children of God.
 
Luci