Evening Bible Study
The book of
Numbers is the history of the Israelites while they wandered in the wilderness
for forty years.
This week we’re going to look at why it took them forty years to do what
should have taken them two weeks.
Last week we read
about the twelve spies that were sent into the Promised Land.
God wanted the people to know exactly what was going to happen up ahead.
The spies were to let the people know about the good things ahead as well
as the bad.
Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, encouraged the people
(Nu 13:30 NKJV) …“Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well
able to overcome it.”
The other ten spies discouraged the people:
(Nu 13:32 NKJV) …“The land through which we have gone as spies is a land
that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of
to enter Promised Land
:1 So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people
wept that night.
:2 And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and
the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt!
Or if only we had died in this wilderness!
:3 Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our
wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to
return to Egypt?”
:4 So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to
:5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the
congregation of the children of Israel.
:6 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among
those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes;
:7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel,
saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.
:8 If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and
give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’
:9 Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for
they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is
with us. Do not fear them.”
:9 the LORD
is with us
This was how Joshua and Caleb saw it.
They figured that if God was on their side, they didn’t have any
(Ro 8:31 NKJV) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can
be against us?
Jonathan also had this same kind of faith when he decided to take on the
Philistines with just his armor bearer at his side:
(1 Sa 14:6 NKJV) Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor,
“Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that
the Lord will work for us. For
nothing restrains the Lord from
saving by many or by few.”
John G. Paton
(1824-1907) was a missionary
to the New Hebrides islands in the 1800s.
arrived at the islands, they were populated by pagan, vicious, tribes of
cannibals. In the first year, he lost
his wife and infant son to disease. He
was driven off the island four years later by the natives. When he returned, he had remarried. The islanders tried to burn down his house. They tried putting curses on him. Yet over the next fifteen years they saw the entire
island, 3,500 people, come to Christ. Through all his dangers, one Bible text
was his rock:
28:20 NKJV) …and lo, I am with you
always, even to the end of the age."
This verse would be so much a part of his life that he would have it
engraved on the headstone at his grave.
If you look up Mr. Paton on the web, you will find story after story of the
attacks on his life and how God delivered him.
read about cannibals armed with muskets, hatchets, and clubs. You will read about them making attempts on
his life, then as he is prays they go away.
What was the secret of such a gallant spirit? He tells us:
“Life in such
circumstances led me to cling very near to the Lord Jesus. With my trembling
hand clasped in the hand once nailed on Calvary, and now swaying the scepter of
the universe, calmness and peace abode in my soul. Trials and hairbreadth
escapes strengthened my faith and seemed only to nerve me for more to follow.
Without that abiding consciousness of the presence and power of my dear Lord
and Savior, nothing else in all the world could have preserved me from losing
my reason and perishing miserably. His words, ‘Lo, I am with you always,
even unto the end of the world,’ became very real to me and I felt His
supporting power. I had my nearest and dearest glimpses of the face and smile
of my blessed Lord in those dread moments when musket, club, or spear was being
leveled at my life.”
Find God’s presence in prayer.
That’s where you’ll find peace.
:10 And all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Now the glory
of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of
You might have faith to trust God in a particularly difficult situation,
but that doesn’t mean that the people around you are going to necessarily
:11 Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And
how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed
:12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will
make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”
God is saying that He’s going to wipe out the Israelites and start over
:13 And Moses said to the Lord: “Then the Egyptians will hear it, for by
Your might You brought these people up from among them,
:14 and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard
that You, Lord, are among these people; that You, Lord, are seen face to face
and Your cloud stands above them, and You go before them in a pillar of cloud
by day and in a pillar of fire by night.
:15 Now if You kill these people as one man, then the nations which have
heard of Your fame will speak, saying,
:16 ‘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.’
:17 And now, I pray, let the power of my Lord be great, just as You have
:18 ‘The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity
and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity
of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.’
This is a truly crazy time.
They sent the spies in, just like God asked them to.
But now the people are turning on Moses, and it almost seems like God wants
to destroy all these people.
How do you make sense of all this?
Back to Basics
There are going to be times in your life that just don’t make sense.
It is going to even look like God is out to destroy you as well.
When life is crazy, go back to the basics.
Go back to the things that you know are certain about who God is.
For Moses, he
only has to remember a few months back when he caught a glimpse of the glory of
God and God Himself revealed the absolute truth about who He was. In fact, Moses is simply quoting God’s own words back to
Him (Ex. 34:6-7)
As believers we will all go through times that simply don’t make
sense. They are sort of the “storms” in
High Seas Parrot
There was this magician who was working a cruise ship on the high seas. His audience was
always different, so he took advantage, allowing himself to do the same tricks
over and over again. There was only one problem... the Captain’s’ Parrot! The Captain’s
Parrot saw the show week after week after week! Soon the parrot began to
understand how the magician did every trick, and once he understood... he began
to shout in the middle of the magician’s act. “Look... different hat...
different hat!” “Hiding the flowers... hiding the flowers, in his coat... in
his coat!” “Hello, ALL aces... ALL aces... Look... All aces!” The magician
became absolutely livid with the parrot and secretly wanted to make soup of
him... however since he was the Captain’s Parrot, there was nothing he could
do. One day the ship got caught in a horrendous storm, broke up, and sank! As luck would have
it... the magician found himself floating on the same piece of wood as the
parrot. There they floated... the middle of the ocean... staring at one another
in complete silence... the magician still filled with anger. They spoke not a
word to one another, and this continued for a day, and another, and another,
and another. After a week the parrot broke the silence with... “OK, I give
up... where’s the boat?!”
You may wonder at times “where’s the boat”?Things don’t make sense.
would often toss out a few “anchors” during a storm to slow the boat down and
make it through the storm.
There are a couple of “anchors” I’ve found over the years that help keep me
from being “shipwrecked”.
God is all powerful
I wonder sometimes if maybe the trouble I’m in is too big
for God to handle. It isn’t.
(Luke 1:37 NKJV) "For with God nothing will be
2. God is good
If I know God can do anything, then why am I in such a
mess? I need to remember that God isn’t
evil and that His plans are for my good.
(1 John 1:5 NKJV) This is the message which we have heard from
Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
3. God loves me
If God can do anything, and God is good, then why am I
having such a tough time? Is it because
God doesn’t love me?
(1 John 3:16 NKJV) By this we know love, because He laid down
His life for us….
I may not always understand why I’m in the storm I’m in, but it sure helps
to have some anchors in your life.
Sometimes all I can do is simply hold on.
:19 Pardon the
iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy, just
as You have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.”
heart of a good shepherd.
Think of all the trouble Moses has had with these people. Even now, they
have just said that they are going to dump Moses and head back to Egypt.
Moses doesn’t ask for God to go ahead and destroy these people, he pleads
:20 Then the Lord said: “I have pardoned, according to your word;
I have this notion that this is what God wanted to do all along, but God
needed to hear it from Moses. God needed
to draw out Moses’ heart for the people.
:21 but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of
:22 because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did
in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten
times, and have not heeded My voice,
:23 they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their
fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.
not see the land – The writer of Hebrews gives us a little more clue to
what is happening:
3:19 NKJV) So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
They did not obey God by going into the Promised Land because they did not
believe that God would help them.
:24 But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has
followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his
descendants shall inherit it.
:25 Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valley; tomorrow
turn and move out into the wilderness by the Way of the Red Sea.”
God gives them specific instructions to head back into the wilderness. They have lost their chance of going into the
Promised Land … for now.
14:26-38 Rebels die
:26 And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
:27 “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against
Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me.
:28 Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My
hearing, so I will do to you:
The very thing they were afraid of for their families are going to happen.
:29 The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this
wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from
twenty years old and above.
:30 Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you
shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in.
:31 But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in,
and they shall know the land which you have despised.
:32 But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness.
:33 And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and
bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the
:34 According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land,
forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty
years, and you shall know My rejection.
:34 forty years
For some reason, God ties the length of the wilderness wandering to the
length of time it took to spy out the land.
It makes you think that if they had returned faster, the judgment would
have been less severe.
I wonder if some of the spies took too much time building a case for why
the land of Canaan was such a bad idea.
:35 I the Lord
have spoken this. I will surely do so to all this evil congregation who are
gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and
there they shall die.’ ”
:36 Now the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made
all the congregation complain against him by bringing a bad report of the land,
:37 those very men who brought the evil report about the land, died by the
plague before the Lord.
:38 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive,
of the men who went to spy out the land.
:37 the evil report
– I couldn’t help but think of what Jesus said:
(Lk 17:1–2 NKJV) Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible
that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2 It
would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were
thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
These ten spies had put a stumbling block before the nation. They had caused them to stumble in their
change of heart
:39 Then Moses told these words to all the children of Israel, and the
people mourned greatly.
:40 And they rose early in the morning and went up to the top of the
mountain, saying, “Here we are, and we will go up to the place which the Lord
has promised, for we have sinned!”
:41 And Moses said, “Now why do you transgress the command of the Lord? For
this will not succeed.
How are they transgressing God’s commandment when He had told them to go
up, and now they’re going up to the Promised Land? This sounds kind of like repentance, how come
God’s not happy with it?
Because in verse 25, God withdrew His original command and instead told the
people to set out into the wilderness.
Every turn they’ve made has been against what God has said.
:42 Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies, for the Lord is not
:43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you
shall fall by the sword; because you have turned away from the Lord, the Lord
will not be with you.”
:44 But they presumed to go up to the mountaintop. Nevertheless, neither
the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed from the camp.
:45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that mountain came
down and attacked them, and drove them back as far as Hormah.
Here the people had repented from their lack of faith and tried doing what
God had originally wanted them to do, but met with utter failure.
Windows of opportunity.
It seems that some of God’s plans and directions for our lives can have
certain time windows for when they are valid.
It’s kind of like when NASA
is launching the space shuttle to go to the space station. They calculate all the orbits of the space
station, and come up with certain launch “windows” so the shuttle will be able
to meet up with the space station.
Esther had gone from being an orphan to queen of the Persian Empire. When a plot to wipe out the Jews was
discovered by her cousin Mordecai, he went to her to ask for her help. She hesitated because it was a bit risky for
her. Mordecai responded:
(Es 4:14 NKJV) —14 For if you remain
completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews
from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows
whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
In other words, God was intent on delivering the Jews, and
if Esther didn’t do anything, God would use someone else. She would lose her opportunity.
There seem to be times in our lives, with certain specific “missions” that
God has for us.
These “missions” don’t always have “at your convenience” stamped on them.
Use the open windows before you.
15:1-12 Grain and
:1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
:2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you have come
into the land you are to inhabit, which I am giving to you,
:3 and you make an offering by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering or a
sacrifice, to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering or in your appointed
feasts, to make a sweet aroma to the Lord, from the herd or the flock,
:4 then he who presents his offering to the Lord shall bring a grain
offering of one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin
:5 and one-fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering you shall prepare
with the burnt offering or the sacrifice, for each lamb.
– Their sacrifices will include something that hadn’t been mandatory
before. Their sacrifices will include
grain offerings and drink offerings.
offerings will be two quarts of fine flour (1/10 of an ephah) mixed with one
quart of olive oil (1/4 hin)
offerings will be one quart (1/4 hin) of wine.
As the sacrificial animal got larger, the amount of the grain and drink
offering got larger as well.
:2 come into the
It’s not forever
Even though the Israelites are going to go through a time of discipline,
spending an extra forty years in the wilderness, there would be a day when the
discipline would be over.
(Ps 30:5 NKJV) For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping
may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
discrimination in sacrifice
God will give instructions that these sacrificial laws apply both to the
Israelite as well as any strangers that live in the land.
:16 One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells
with you.’ ”
:16 one custom
– Both those who would be native to Israel as well as those who were strangers
were to follow the same laws and customs.
Even though we see the Jews as God’s “chosen people”, the laws and principles
that God lays out for them apply in some way to all men.
All men are in need of forgiveness for their sins.
All men are in need of a Savior.
God has provided the one
and same way to all mankind to be saved.
(Jn 14:6 NKJV) Jesus said to him, “I
am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through
:17 Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
:18 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into
the land to which I bring you,
:19 then it will be, when you eat of the bread of the land, that you shall
offer up a heave offering to the Lord.
:20 You shall offer up a cake of the first of your ground meal as a heave
offering; as a heave offering of the threshing floor, so shall you offer it up.
:21 Of the first of your ground meal you shall give to the Lord a heave
offering throughout your generations.
:19 the bread of
the land – These folks are going to spend forty years eating manna
in the wilderness.
On the day that they cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land,
the miraculous manna is going to stop and they will be eating from food that
came from the Promised Land.
God wants them to make sure to remember that this new food also came from
It’s all from God
Sometimes we will experience things like the “manna” where we see God do
something amazing in providing for us.
But even if it’s not miraculous, it’s still God who provides for us.
(Dt 8:18 NKJV) “And you shall remember the Lord
your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish
His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
:22 ‘If you sin unintentionally, and do not observe all these commandments
which the Lord has spoken to Moses—
– There may be times when you sin and you didn’t realize that you were sinning.
In one situation (vs. 22-26), it’s the nation as a whole that has sinned.
In another situation (vs. 27-29), it’s an individual that sins without
knowing that they had sinned.
You are unaware of what the speed limit is, and a policeman pulls you over for going 40 mph
in a 30 mph zone.
You are to bring a sin offering of a goat.
:30 ‘But the person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is
native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the Lord, and he shall
be cut off from among his people.
:31 Because he has despised the word of the Lord, and has broken His
commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon
– lit, “with a high hand”
The Hebrew phrase is sometimes translated in a positive way as “boldness”
Here the idea is that of defiance or arrogance, that despite what God has
said, they are going to do it anyway.
1. Sin carries
a high price
(Ro 6:23 NKJV) —23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal
life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Whether your sin was done intentionally or unintentionally, it still
results in the same thing, separation from God – “death”
Sin still requires that someone be separated from God to pay for that sin.
2. Jesus died
for our sins
(Heb 10:10 NKJV) By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of
the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
You have the choice of paying your own accounts with God yourself, and
being eternally separated from Him in hell as a result of your sins, or letting
someone else pay the price for you.
We can ask Jesus to pay our debts, and He will gladly do it. That’s why He died on the cross, to pay your
We receive heavenly forgiveness with God when we confess our sins. Yet sometimes there are still earthly
consequences for what we’ve done.
David was forgiven by God for his sin, but there was still a consequence in
this life that he had to face.
(2 Sa 12:13–14 NKJV) So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you
shall not die. 14 However, because by this deed you have given great occasion
to the enemies of the Lord to
blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.”
If I go out and do drugs, and then come back and confess my sin, I may
still get AIDS from the needle or brain-damage from the drugs.
If I go out and rob a store, then confess my sin, I may still go to prison,
though I could be forgiven by God.
:32 Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a
man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day.
:33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and
Aaron, and to all the congregation.
:34 They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should
be done to him.
:35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must surely be put to death; all
the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.”
:36 So, as the Lord commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him
outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died.
:36 stoned him
Now we get an example of an “intentional” sin.
For over a year, it has been forbidden for anyone to do any work on the
Sabbath day. It was pretty obvious to everyone that Sabbath work was forbidden.
This man is caught, the penalty was death.
Why so harsh?
The Sabbath was intended as a day for you to spend with your God.
A day of rest and building your relationship up with God.
When you neglect your Sabbath, you are “breaking your date” with God.
Jack and his
buddies were discussing an upcoming hunting trip, but Jack was very sad because
his wife wouldn’t let him go. Instead,
he had promised he would spend the weekend at home and take her out on a date. Later on when Jack’s buddies arrived at the
hunting camp, they were shocked to see Jack. He was already there with a Pepsi
in his hand, burgers cooking on the grill, gun cleaned and loaded, and a camp
fire glowing. “How did you talk your missus into letting you come, Jack?” “I
didn’t have to,” Jack replied. “When I left you guys, I went home to sulk. Then Bernice snuck up behind me, covered my
eyes, and said, ‘Surprise.’”
“When I peeled her hands back, she was standing there in a beautiful dress and
said in her naughty voice, ‘Carry me into the bedroom, tie me to the bed, and
you can do whatever
you want!’” “So, HERE I AM!”
That guy ought to be shot.
Keep your date with God
God wants you to develop your intimacy with Him. He’s serious about it.
:37 Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
:38 “Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the
corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue
thread in the tassels of the corners.
– tsiytsith – fringe, tassel
You will see these “tassels”
on the prayer shawls (talit) that
Orthodox Jews wear.
:39 And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember
all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the
harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined,
:40 and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for
:41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be
your God: I am the Lord your God.”
For some people, the tassels were nothing more than a way to flaunt their
(Mt 23:4–12 NKJV) —4 For they bind heavy
burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves
will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to
be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of
were these tassels. Some people liked to
make them extra large, not because they had trouble reminding themselves to
obey God’s laws, but because they wanted people to notice how religious they
6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7
greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But
you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are
all brethren. 9 Do not
call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10
And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest
among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Tassels without humility were worthless.
They in fact defeated the very purpose of the tassels.
The tassels were to remind you to submit yourself to God
and His laws. But when pride crept in,
they became a way of putting “self” on the throne of a person’s life.
Ministry and Obedience
(Mt 9:20–22 NKJV)
—20 And suddenly, a
woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the
hem of His garment. 21 For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His
garment, I shall be made well.” 22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of
good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made
well from that hour.
The word for “hem” is the tassel.
Did Jesus need the tassels to remind Him to obey God?
No, but by wearing them He showed that He still intended
to live His life in obedience to God.
For this woman, it was the tassel that she grabbed a hold
of and was healed.
(Mt 14:35–36 NKJV) And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out
into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, 36 and
begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as
touched it were made perfectly well.
It was these tassels that became a place of contact for
the people to receive healing from Jesus.
Jesus lived a life of complete obedience to God.
In contrast to the Pharisees, Jesus lived a life of
humility as well.
works through us in the lives of others as we too live lives of obedience and