A specter has been haunting the early parts of the book of Deuteronomy, the specter of Kadesh Barnea. This unfortunate story, as we have seen, set the immediate background for the book of Deuteronomy, and it’s worth taking a closer look at it.
Read Numbers 14:1-45. How did the people react to the report of the spies, and what were the results of their reaction? (See also Deuteronomy 1:20-46)
We can derive many important lessons from this story, but one important lesson, which will appear again in the book, can be found in Numbers 14, as well.
Read Numbers 14:11-20. Though we see Moses again in the role of intercessor, what is significant about his line of reasoning with the Lord regarding why the Lord should not destroy them?
Think about what Moses was saying to God. If You do this, look at how You will appear in the eyes of the Egyptians and the other nations in the area. This point is important because, ultimately, everything that God had wanted to do with Israel wasn’t just for the sake of Israel; it was also for humanity as a whole. The nation of Israel was to be a light to the world, a witness to the ancients about the love and power and salvation found in the true God and not in the worthless idols that these people had worshiped.
However, as Moses said, if you wipe this people out, then what? The nations will say: “Because the LORD was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness” (Numbers 14:16).
In other words, what we see here is a theme found all through the Bible: the idea that God is to be glorified in His people — that the glory and goodness and love and power of God are to be revealed in His church, through what He does through His people. Of course, His people don’t always make it easy for Him to do this, but ultimately God will be glorified through His actions on earth.
|Read Ephesians 3:10. What is Paul saying here, and how does this happen? How is the “manifold wisdom” of God made manifest to the cosmos? What role, if any, do we have as individuals in bringing this about?|