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Numbers 14, Isaiah 3-4, Psalm 120

Today we’re scheduled to read Numbers 14, Isaiah 3-4, Psalm 120.

This devotional is about Numbers 14.

Israel was in all-out rebellion against the Lord and against Moses. Although the land was theirs for the taking and they had seen how great it was, they refused to believe God’s word and, by faith, take the land. Here in chapter 14 the people are complaining loudly “against Moses and Aaron” (v. 2) and plotting to return to Egypt (v. 4).

God was angry with the people for their rebellion and threatened to destroy them all (vv. 11-12), but Moses stepped in and interceded for the people (vv. 13-19). And what was the basis of Moses’s intercession? It wasn’t a claim that Israel’s sin was “not that bad” or that he, Moses, was okay with what they said. No, Moses knew his people were acting wickedly. Instead of making excuses for them, appealed to God’s character. Yes, Israel’s sin was bad so Moses appealed instead to the greatness of God’s mercy. He prayed back to God the revelation God had given to him when he said, “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’” (vv. 17-18).

God loves it when we remind him of his promises even to the point of praying back to him what he was revealed about himself. These kinds of prayers demonstrate that we have been paying attention and learning who God is. They also show us how utterly dependent on God we are. When we pray back to God descriptions of who he is, we are demonstrating our faith and knowledge of his Word. This glorifies God and gives him a basis for granting our requests. After all, what better basis could there be than the word of the Lord?

Do you pray scripture back to God? Do you quote or paraphrase passages you’ve read and learned about so that God can answer your request in a way that pleases Him? Start today. Think about a need in your life then think about how God might bring his grace into the situation. Then ask God to act based on the theology or scripture passage you’ve spoken to him in prayer. Watch God work as he defends his word and you, his children, from those who would seek to harm us.

Numbers 14, Psalm 50, Isaiah 3–4, Hebrews 11

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Numbers 14, Psalm 50, Isa 3–4, Hebrews 11. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Numbers 14.

From the time Israel left Sinai in Numbers 10, the tension has been building among the people of Israel. In Numbers 11 they complained about the manna that fed them and received two separate judgments from the Lord (vv. 1b, 33). In chapter 12, Moses’ own brother and sister gossiped against Moses and attempted to undermine his leadership (12:1) and God judged Miriam with leprosy, curable only through Moses’ prayer for her. In chapter 13, twelve spies explored the promised land and found it amazing. Nevertheless, they doubted God’s promises and were too afraid to claim the land for themselves (vv. 26-33). Here in chapter 14—right on the brink of receiving the promise—the people revolted against Moses and Aaron and were ready to go back and surrender to the Egyptians (vv. 1-4). Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb pleaded with the people to repent and claim God’s promise by faith (vv. 5-9), but their pleas were rejected (v. 10). God stepped in at this moment and announced his intention to punish the Israelites and start over with Moses (vv. 11-12). 

Here is where we see what a godly leader Moses was. He had been attacked and rejected personally by these people and could easily have been the greatest cheerleader for their destruction. Instead, Moses reminded God of his own reputation (vv. 13-16) and asked the Lord to show his strength (v. 17). And what was that strength? Not the swift hand of judgment but God’s character as patient and merciful (vv. 17-18). What Moses said about God in verse 18 is from the revelation of God Moses experienced in Exodus 34:6. That experience in Exodus 34 was not only for deepening Moses’ personal understanding of and walk with God; it prepared him for this day. Having learned of the great mercy of God, Moses was prepared to call on God for mercy when God’s people rebelled against both God and Moses. 

The things we learn about God in our lives make our faith in God stronger and our experience of God deeper but they also teach us how to pray. When we ask God for anything, it pleases him when we tie our requests to his very nature. It shows that our prayers are not just selfish demands for our own gratification; instead, when they flow out from our walk with God and our understanding of his nature, our prayers become pleas for God to show his glory in our world to others by answering our prayers according to his nature and will, not necessarily according to our desires. 

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.