Bible Book: Numbers / Numeri
Verse (to): 54
Text: Numbers 14
Numbers 14 (not used by the RCL) is a chapter with several important themes. The author gives a vivid description of the dramatic way in which the history of Israel takes a sad and unhappy turn. In stead of entering the Promised Land, they have to turn back into the desert.
While reading this moving story, I was struck by the surprising jump made from verse 12 to verse 13.
In verse 12 the Lord makes Moses the following offer: “‘I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.’” To Israel this means the end (death), but to Moses it must have seemed quite an attractive proposal. This would mean that he (Moses) was to be raised from being the leader of the descendants of Abraham to the father of a new people! The seriousness of this “proposal of God to Moses” is underlined when we remember that this is the second time it happened – compare Exodus 32:10.
Numbers 14:13 continues without further ado with “Moses said to the Lord …” followed with Moses’ plea for the salvation of Israel as a nation. Moses refuses the offer made to him in verse 12.
We know the story, so it seems completely logical, but can we imagine for a moment what it must have cost Moses to refuse God’s offer and stand up for the people of Israel once more?
When we read in verse 20 that the Lord hears Moses’ prayer, we know that he has made the right choice in not accepting God’s offer in verse 12. Moses refused God’s “offer” because he remembered God’s promises and because he knew Him personally.
Numbers 14:12 and 13 made me wonder about the church and Christians’ commitment to the AIDS pandemic. If Christians and church leaders, like Moses, really put the interest of God’s people before their own, would there still be so much apathy and unconcern? So why do we wait till the AIDS pandemic affects our congregation directly before we start doing something?
Just imagine that Moses said, ‘It’s all right, Lord, you can let Israel die; as long as my house and I are saved, I am satisfied’.
This is unthinkable! Or is it?
Author: N du Toit (Ds)