In Numbers 13 twelve spies are sent into the ‘Promised Land’ to check it out at the time of the “first-ripe grapes’ v.20. They came to the brook of Eshcol which means ‘cluster’ and cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes and bore it between two men on a staff, some cluster of grapes, Amen? They searched the land for 40 days and said, “Surely it flows with milk and honey and this is the fruit of it.” Nevertheless, the people are strong that dwell there and the children of Anak the giants are there and we are as grasshoppers in their sight and ours.’ Joshua and Caleb disagreed and said, “No! Let us go up and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then all the children of Israel had a ‘boo-hoo’ pity party all night and murmured against Moses and Aaron, and voted to elect a new Captain to lead them back to Egypt; ‘Oh No!’
“Then Moses & Aaron fell (na-fal) to fall prostrate, on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.” Num. 14:5 – This was a sign of ultimate humility. At first I thought it was before God but on further examination I believe they were humbling themselves before the congregation of Israel. Then Joshua and Caleb rent or tore their clothes which was a sign of mourning and extreme grief, and pleaded with the assembly not to rebel against the LORD or fear the people of the land, because ‘they were bread for us.’ However, the Israelites chose to stone them instead.
Then the glory (ka-bowd) splendor, honor, Shekinah of the LORD appeared before all the children of Israel. You see, they were not rebelling against the leadership of Israel, they were rebelling against the LORD YeHoVaH! Think of that the next time you mount a charge against your pastor. It better be for heresy and you better be on your face when you begin the charge! Then the LORD YeHoVaH says, “How long will this people provoke Me? How long before they believe Me?” Here comes Moses’ test – “Step aside Moses and I will smite them, disinherit them and make a great and mighty nation of you.”
Then Moses begins to intercede for this rebellious nation, v. 13-19. Would to God we had more leaders in America praying like this today for our nation. “And Moses said unto the LORD…” What a prayer, you need to read it, study it, write it on the walls of your homes. “If you smite them LORD, the Egyptians will hear it and tell the Amalekites, the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Canaanites and the children of Anak and they won’t be, “bread for us.” They have heard your “cloud” goes before us by day and your “fire” by night and you are among your people and are seen “face to face.”
Then Moses reminds the LORD (YeHoVaH) of something He had said, a promise He had made to Moses and the children of Israel when He gave them the second tables of the law in Ex. 34:5-9 on Mt. Sinai, in Num. 14:18. We have already dealt with that prayer, so we won’t spend a lot of time on it here. However, Moses reminds God of His promises and prays them back to Him, holding Him to His Word. Sort of like, “Yeah but, You said God in Exodus 34:5-9….” We need to pray God’s promises back to Him, David did, Moses did, the prophets did, the apostles did, the early disciples did, our Christian leaders did and we should.
Moses reminds the LORD in v. 18 that He is ‘long-suffering’ (arak-af) slow to anger, patient (arak) before he flairs His nostrils (af) and of great (raba) much, abounding, abundant, exceedingly, chief, mercy (kheh-sed) goodness, kindness, faithfulness, lovingkindness, pity; forgiving (na-sa) to lift up, to bear up, carry or take away or off; forgiving what? Iniquity (a-von) perversity, depravity, guilt or punishment of iniquity, a depraved action or crime; and transgression (peh-shah) transgression, rebellion, defection, which they were guilty of. Moses doesn’t mention the third major category of sin in Hebrew culture (chet or chata) ‘missing the mark’, the way, the goal or the path, to stumble or make a false step. So there are your three main categories of sin in the Hebrew culture (avon) iniquity; (pesha) rebellion and (chet) missing the mark.
After Moses names the two big ones to God, he clarify’s by stating, “And by no means (na-ka) to be pure, clear, free, exempt. The words ‘means and clearing’ are the exact same words in the Hebrew text (an-ka; na-ka) and the words “the guilty” are in italics showing they are not in the original text. This could be translated, “forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, but will not always pardon,” (Gesenius’s Lexicon) You have the same Hebrew construction in Nahum 1:3, “The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked! On Calvary, one sinner was saved so that no one would despair, but only one so no one would presuppose! Moses goes on reminding God He visits (pa-kad) attends to, reckons, punishes, appoints the iniquity (a-von) perversity and depravity of the fathers upon the children (ben) sons, grandsons, unto the third and fourth; generation is in italics in the text. How does all this work? I’m not quite sure, and how long is a generation, 40 years, 100 years, does anybody really know? I have learned a few things in 70+ years raising four children and watching them raise twelve grand-children; “Whatever you do in moderation, your children will do in excess.” They don’t become more conservative from one generation to the next but more liberal, more worldly, more socially minded and seem to (chet) veer off the mark., the paths you have set for them. Four generations, I won’t live to see that, two and maybe a little of the third but not the fourth.
Moses goes on in v.19, “Pardon, (sa-lakh) pardon, forgive, be merciful, propitious, show Yourself, gentle; I beseech Thee, the iniquity (a-von) the perversity and depravity of this people. Not, Your people, or My people, just ‘this people’ (am) this nation, these kinsmen according to the greatness (go-del) magnitude, magnificence, Majesty of Thy Mercy (kheh-sed) goodness, kindness, faithfulness, love; Just as Thou have forgiven (na-sa) this people, from Egypt (mits-ray-im) even until now.” Doesn’t the Hebrew word for Egypt ‘Miz-ray-im’ sound like misery or miserable? They were glad to be out of there but as soon as it got tough they longed for those leeks and onions, are we any different?
As soon as Moses finishes his prayer in v.19, the LORD answers in v. 20 and listen to YeHoVaH’s response, “And the LORD said, I have pardoned (sa-lakh), according to thy word (da-bar) speech, utterance, words, prayer (Moses). The LORD continued and said in v. 21, “But truly, (u-lam) but in deed, a strong adversative, I live, (chay) alive, living, life, all the earth shall be filled (ma-la) filled full, abundance, with the glory of the LORD. Then He goes on to tell them that everyone over 20 will die in the wilderness and only their children will enter the promised land. Ten of the spies except for Calab and Joshua are struck with a plague and die; a bunch go up to fight the Amalekites and Canaanites without the Ark and they die, due to the sin of presumption. So, there are about 2.5 to 3 million people in the camp and about 5,000 will die every month or 60,000 every year for 40 years; that would be about 2 million, 400 thousand. Plus a lot of new births and marriage’s happening for 40 years, hence the need for the ashes of the ‘Red Heifer’ in Num. 19 and we will get there.
Question, have you ever prayed like this for your pastor or your congregation? What a blessing they are missing out on, as well as you. Imagine God talking to you like He talked to Moses in Num. 14:20-21, that would give you something to put in your “Blessing Journal.” Amen? These people struck the lentil and the door posts with the blood of the lamb, marched out of Egypt victorious but failed to enter the “Promised Land” due to unbelief, Heb. 3:18-19. How many of us have marched up to Calvary to be washed in the blood of the Lamb but have never entered into His “Promises” laid out for us in His Word, shame on us. Till next time, I’ll see you on my knees or, “…Between The Lines…”
“Praying Back God’s Promises – Num. 14” (Part #3) 2/5/16