You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.
The Israelites spent almost their entire first year of freedom camped at Mt. Sinai, and though they were no longer slaves in Egypt they could not escape the prison of their own discontentment. But as they left Sinai and headed towards Canaan, their anguish boiled over repeatedly in complaints about food, leadership, and perceived dangers. At its root their dissatisfaction always went back to a lack of faith in God. Though they might not have admitted it, they were telling God that his provision was not good enough. They knew better than he did about what they needed.
First they complained about their hardship (11:1) and God sent fire that consumed those around the outskirts of the camp. Then they moaned about the lack of variety in their diet (11:4-6), and after satisfying their craving with quail he struck them with a severe plague. Miriam and Aaron objected to Moses’ special position (12:1-2) and Miriam was made leprous for a week. The majority report of the twelve spies who went to Canaan said that there was not way they could defeat the people living there and that they should return to Egypt (13). God struck down the ten men who doubted him and condemned the remaining adults (except for Caleb and Joshua) to die in the wilderness (14). Finally, a group of 250 men led by a Levite named Korah challenged their exclusion from the priesthood (16) and all of them died along with their families.
You can’t miss the discontentment of the Israelites, but you also can’t overlook the anger of the Lord. Why was there so much conflict? I think in part it was because of the close proximity of God and the Israelites. He was dwelling with them right in the midst of their camp. In addition, the people were extremely accountable to God because they had seen his mighty hand of deliverance repeatedly. John Piper’s mantra helps us understand God’s righteous anger. If God is most pleased with us when we are most satisfied with him, then surely he will be most displeased with us when we are least satisfied with him.
About this blog
During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered Numbers 3 – 17. Next week I will write about Numbers 18 – 34. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering Numbers 3 – 17.
Image by Robert Körner on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0.