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Numbers 17-20


A Devotional Journey
   led by Dr. Gene Pearson

Thru the Bible in a Year

         This section takes us from the validation of Aaron=s leadership of the priests, to his special training by the LORD, to the death of his sister, Miriam, to his failure, along with Moses to trust God at Meribah, to the rebuff by the Moabites of Israel=s request to pass through their country, to Aaron=s death.
         It is interesting to see how the grace in all God=s dealings. Aaron is not a perfect person: he led the Israelites in the creation of the Golden Calf at Mount Sinai, he seems to have failed in the training of his children, and he appears weak at points in the story. Nevertheless, God chooses him to be the head priest and the founder of the priestly tradition. Since the priests had the most intimate contact with God, this means that an imperfect person is given the most unrestricted access to the perfect God.
         When we wonder about our own acceptability to God, we need to remember Abraham allowed his wife to be taken by an Egyptian king rather than expose himself to any risk. Jacob stole his brother=s blessing. Moses murdered an Egyptian & Aaron was a weak tool in the hands of a mob. We’ll see many other instances of sinful people being made effective because God decided to use them anyway.
         We’re in the service of God as we read through the Bible. That=s what makes it such a helpful book: it neither overstates human ability nor underestimates God=s capacity to overcome human weakness.
         The importance of offering God thanks before accepting and using His blessings (as in the offerings of first fruits and the first born animals) is stressed in chapter 18, and the background of Aholy water@ is found in Numbers 19. Chapter 20, however contains information about one of the most important events in Moses= life.
         The people need water which God promises to provide. Moses & Aaron are told to speak to the rock, but instead they strike it. This seems a minor difference until we note that Moses strikes the rock in anger at the people not in prayer to God, as was commanded. The action appears to focus attention for this miracle on Moses instead of on God. God says that Aaron and Moses haven’t trusted Him, perhaps because they felt words (even those given by God Himself) were not enough. The idea that Moses could in his anger disregard God=s instructions, is an offense to God=s honor (20:12), and the consequence will be that Moses is not allowed to enter the Promised Land.
         It’s an awesome assignment to lead the People of God B particularly because God Himself is the Leader and no deviation from His will is permissible. In today=s world people want authority without accountability. God never works that way. As He says elsewhere in the Bible, To whom much is given, much is required.
         How consistent are you to obey God? Do you seek His instruction, following  His directions? It’s easy to listen to voices other than God=s, either because they upset us, distracting us from His grace, or tempt us to take an easier path than His.
         In the end, God=s way is always best, and when we trust His decisions and instructions, we find ourselves in the best possible position to enjoy and make the most of our lives. 

© A. Eugene Pearson 2011