Category Archives: Numbers

You’re not in this alone!

Numbers 11:14

I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. NIV

This morning, as I went upstairs to find my Project Bible, it occurred to me that having a “heavy heart” is a synonym for worry.  So, I grabbed my NIV concordance and looked up the word, “heavy.”  This verse was very near the top of that list.

I’m back in the story of Moses.  He already has lead the people out of Egypt.  At this point, while Moses does not say his heart is heavy, a heavy burden is clearly worrying and upsetting him.  In the prior verses (10b-13), he complains to God. “Moses was troubled.  He asked the Lord, ‘Why have you brought this trouble on your servant?  What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?  Did I conceive all these people?  Did I give them birth?  Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers?  Where can I get meat for all these people?  They keep wailing to me, “Give us meat to eat!” ‘ “NIV

He is so stressed out that he nearly gives up.  In verse 15, he says to God, “If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now.” NIV

How many times have we felt this way?  We take on a task.  The task seems doable, and the goal seems worthy.  But, as we get into it, as we peel back the layers of what is to be done, the task is more complex than originally anticipated … the goal sometimes becoming frustratingly unattainable.

God’s answer is brilliant.  Of course, He’s God.  He tells Moses to share the burden.  He directs that 70 people be brought to the tent of meeting.


Moses has been carrying this burden alone.  When he tells God that it is too much, God spreads the burden broadly.  He chose 70 people to do the work that one man had been carrying alone.  If I have my math right, that’s a 7,000 percent increase.

There’s a lot that we can learn here.  Goals, no matter how worthy, are hard to achieve … sometimes unachievable.  People and their various points of view can complicate matters exponentially.  Big burdens are not to be borne by a small percentage of God’s family, but rather by a number proportionate to the task.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Numbers, Old Testament, Trouble, Worry

Trust God.

Numbers 20:12

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” NIV

At this point in the book of Numbers, the scouts already have entered the promised land and returned with reports of the very large, very powerful, very frightening people who live there.  The Israelites already have refused to enter the land.  And, when Moses and Aaron attempted to convince them to take advantage of the promise and provision of God, the people threatened to stone them to death.

Now, they are wandering in the desert, and, they have run out of water.  God tells Moses to take his staff and speak to a rock, and He will provide water for the people and their animals.  Moses strikes the rock, water pours forth and everyone drinks.

Then this verse.  God has just done the impossible.  He has brought water out of a stone in the middle of the desert.  In the midst of this miracle, He says to Moses and Aaron, “Because you didn’t trust me, didn’t treat me with holy reverence in front of the People of Israel, you two aren’t going to lead this company into the land that I am giving them.” MSG

Trust is serious business.

When I read this verse, especially the part that says, “you did not honor me as holy,” I was curious.  I didn’t remember Moses not honoring God.  So, I went back to the scene that I described above, and I found the part about Moses and Aaron being threatened by the people.

While I didn’t find reference to God not being honored as holy there, it does make sense to me that He was not.  The Bible talks a lot about being faithful.  Many times, those references are to God himself, who is always faithful.  But, other times, we are called to be faithful. Revelation 2:10 says, “Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” NIV

It occurs to me that when the people threatened to stone Moses, he must have felt hopeless.  He must have thought, “There is no way that I can get these stubborn people to cross into Canaan.”  But, he didn’t say, in the face of those threats, “I don’t care if you try to stone me.  This is what God said to do, and I’m stepping out on trust … I’m leaving now, so, make your decision — try to kill me or follow me to the blessings God has for you.”  I wonder what would have happened if he had said that?  Would God then not have spoken these words in Numbers 20:12?

God created us with free will.  We can choose not to trust Him.  We can choose not to step into His plan for our life, and we will surely miss the blessing that He has for us if we make that decision.

I think that the lesson that the lives of Moses and Aaron teach is this: Trust God.  Honor Him as holy.  Do not be overcome by worry or by fear.  You don’t have the whole picture — God does.  Trust Him.

I will think about that today.

Leave a comment

Filed under Numbers, Old Testament, Trust

Numbers 21:34

The Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, with his whole army and his land.  Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.” NIV

Sihon, apparently, had not been a very charitable person.  The Israelites had politely requested leave to pass through his country.  They had said that they would stick to the road, and, in verse 22, they even promised “We will not turn aside into any field or vineyard or drink water from any well.  We will travel along the King’s highway until we have passed through your territory.” NIV

Long story short, Sihon wouldn’t allow it and things did not end well for him or his family.

So, while the original plan had been merely to pass through the land of the Amorites (of which Sihon had been the king) once they conquered it, the Israelites settled there.

Now, Og, king of Bashan has shown up with his whole army, marching out to meet the Israelites in battle.  This is where God says, “Do not be afraid of him.”  Before the battle has even begun, God promises Moses that he already has handed Bashan over to Israel, along with his whole army and his land. At the end of the chapter, they strike down Bashan and take his land, too.

I”m not certain what there is here to learn … the Israelites are wandering in the desert because they were disobedient and they did not fulfill God’s original plan for them.  But, even though they were disobedient, God is still clearly on their side, protecting them from these unpleasant rulers who wish to do them harm.  More than protecting the Israelites, He’s actually exterminating their attackers.

Maybe that’s the thing — there is punishment for disobedience (the wandering in the desert part) but, God does not withdraw His hand, or His blessing from His children — maybe that is the point of this story.

I will think about that today.

Leave a comment

Filed under Numbers, Old Testament

Numbers 14:9

Only, do not rebel against the Lord.  And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up.  Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them. NIV

Joshua and Caleb are pleading with the Israelites to abandon their fears and obey God.

The people of Israel are terrified to take the next step that God has laid out for them.  They — who have been provided for day and night by God, who have been led by a pillar of fire through the desert, who have gathered manna from heaven each morning, who walked across the Red Sea on dry ground — doubt that God can overcome the inhabitants of their new land.  And, why?  Because someone spread a rumor.  Numbers 13:32&33 say that the people who had accompanied Joshua and Caleb on their scouting trip into the promised land “spread scary rumors among the people of Israel.  They said, ‘We scouted out the land from one end to the other — it’s a land that swallows people whole.  Everybody we saw was huge.   Why; we even saw the Nephilim giants … alongside them we felt like grasshoppers.  And the looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.'” MSG

They doubted God.  They were worried and terrified because they did not trust.

I’ve thought alot over the last several weeks about choosing to trust instead of choosing to worry.  But, it never occurred to me until just now that a lack of trust is the SOURCE of worry.

Trust is not the antidote for worry … it is the vaccine against it.

Wow.  I will think about that today.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fear, Numbers, Old Testament