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May 23, 2016

The book of Numbers begins with a census of the nation of Israel. The families are recounted and the number of men in each household is told. God did not inspire the first two chapters of Numbers to test the tenacity of Bible readers. These passages are included as a witness against those who saw God’s might time and time again but time and time again refused to trust Him and to obey Him. “I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel which they murmur against me. As truly as I live, as ye have spoken in my ears, so will I do ot ou. Your carcass shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, which have murmured against me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land.” (v. 28-35) God did just as He said and all but 2 of the 603,550 men who stood before the Mount of the Lord died without entering the land God had promised their forefathers.

The tragedy of the Israelites rebellion against God is another sober warning to Christians today. Hebrews 3 and 4 draws from the Israelites rebellion in the wilderness and warns against “an evil heart of unbelief”. What does the church learn from these sad tales of doubt, fear, faithlessness and rebellion? How does the Israelites folly in the wilderness affect the Christian this week? Hebrews teaches to be on the look out against sin. This is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Do not fear your salvation may be lost if you fail to obey. Do not imagine your salvation is in someway dependent on your steadfastness. Do not live in presumption. Do not presume that because you attend a church and are religious that every thing is fine with you. Hearing and knowing truth is not sufficient. Knowing must be accompanied with believing and obeying.

Fear God and believe His word. When the Israelites saw the mighty people of Canaan they feared the Canaanites and believed the evil report of the ten faithless spies. Their folly is a warning to all to walk by faith. God is faithful and able to do all He promised. Do not doubt God will give all that He has promised. Fear God. These stories show the holiness and justice of God. God will punish sin. The Israelites did not continue in their sin. The Israelites did not escape the chastening of God. He is longsuffering and compassionate but He will not always endure the sin of His people. “Fear God and keep His commandment for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

The Pentateuch was written as a testimony to Joshua and the children of those Israelites who rebelled against God and died in the wilderness. These things were written as a testimony and warning to Christian’s today. Let us look to the failures of the Israelites that we may learn to avoid the sins of the fear of man and distrust of God.


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