Sunday, September 6, 2009

Numbers 20-25

  • Chapter 20 - The New Generation complains; Moses Strikes the Rock; Miriam and Aaron die.

    • This chapter opens 37 years after the incident with the 12 spies at Kadesh and 40 years since leaving Egypt.

    • Now they're camped at Kadesh once again now that the old generation has died off.

    • Miriam dies and is buried at Kadesh.

    • The new generation now rebels too complaining about the food and lack of water - wishing they were in Egypt (Egypt is a type of the world).

    • God in His "glorious presence" directs Moses and Aaron what to do, but they don't follow His directions to the letter:

      Numbers 20:8-13: "You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, command the rock over there to pour out its water. You will get enough water from the rock to satisfy all the people and their livestock." So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the LORD. Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. "Listen, you rebels!" he shouted. "Must we bring you water from this rock?" Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So all the people and their livestock drank their fill. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!" This place was known as the waters of Meribah, because it was where the people of Israel argued with the LORD, and where he demonstrated his holiness among them.

      Meribah means "arguing."

    • Why was God so angry with them? Who is the Rock? Christ! They broke the type where rivers of living water would come from Him:

      John 7:37-39: On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’ ” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

      1 Corinthians 10:4: and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ.

      The first time God told Moses to strike the rock in Exodus 17:6 and water would come forth. This represented Christ’s death that brings forth life giving water. However, the second time Moses was told to only speak to the Rock, because Christ would never die twice. Moses and Aaron disobeyed and were punished.

    • Edom refuses to let Israel pass through their land on the king's road on their way to the Promised Land.

      If Israel could go through Edom, it would be only 20 miles, and they could then go on the east of the Dead Sea to cross the Jordan near Jericho. Yet for Israel this meant a long journey of 120 miles rather than 20 miles.

      The Edomites were descended from Jacob's brother, Esau.

      The king's road was an old caravan route.

      Moses tells the king of Edom that an angel brought them out of Egypt. Who was this "angel"?

    • Israel arrives at mount Hor.

    • God tells Moses and Aaron that "the time has come for Aaron to join his ancestors in death."

    • Moses, Aaron and Aaron's son Eleazar ascend to the top of Mount Hor. Moses removes Aaron's priestly garments from him and puts them on Eleazar, thus appointing him as the new high priest, and Aaron dies.

    • Israel mourns for 30 days.

  • Chapter 21 - Victory over the Canaanites; the Bronze Serpent; Journey to Moab; Israel Defeats the Ammorites and occupies their Territory.

    • The Canaanite king of Arad in the Negev attacks Israel and is defeated. Israel destroys all their towns.

    • The people start complaining about the manna.

    • As a result, God sends poisonous snakes among them and many die.

    • Numbers 21:8-9: Then the LORD told him, "Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to the top of a pole. Those who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!" So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to the top of a pole. Whenever those who were bitten looked at the bronze snake, they recovered!

      2 Kings 18:4: He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan. Nehushtan means a thing of brass. It's not a god - it's just a piece of brass. The "He" is Hezekiah (about 715 BC).

      John 3:14-15: And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.

    • The serpent is always a symbol for sin because Satan came in the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden. Brass is always a symbol of judgment.

    • Now if you go to the Saint Ambrose Cathedral in Milan, Italy you can see the glued-together pieces of brass and the people going up and offering their prayers and kissing the glass cover and so forth again. Because according to their story, someone picked up the pieces and now they've got it on display and are using it again.

    • The Amorites also refuse to let Israel pass through their territory on the king's road. Israel defeats King Sihon and King Og and occupies their land as far as the fortified territory of the Ammonites.

  • Chapter 22 - Balaam

    • Israel camps east of the Jordan River, across from Jericho, in the plains of Moab.

    • Balak, the Moabite king, sends for Balaam, a sorcerer, living in Pethor near the Euphrates River, to put a curse on Israel.

    • Balak's messengers give money to do the job; he tells them to stay the night (probably in hopes of getting more money).

    • God speaks to Balaam and tells him not to go with them and says He will not curse Israel.

    • Balak sends even more people and, probably more money, to persuade Balaam to come and curse Israel. This time, God says to go with them the next day, but he is only to do what God directs him to do.

    • God was furious that Balaam was going - then we get the incident of Balaam's donkey. So why was God upset at Balaam for doing what God told him to do?

    • In the story, God opens Balaam's eyes when the donkey won't go any further and he sees the angel of the Lord.

    • 2 Peter 2:15-16: They have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor, who loved to earn money by doing wrong. But Balaam was stopped from his mad course when his donkey rebuked him with a human voice.

    • An 8th century BC inscription found in Jordan begins with, "Inscription of Balaam the son of Beor, the man who was a seer of the gods."

  • Chapters 23-24 - Balaam Bless Israel

    • First attempt: Balaam has Balak build 7 altars with sacrifices.

      God gives Balaam a message for Balak that Israel is a nation set apart from other nations and is blessed by God.

    • Second attempt: Balaam has Balak build 7 altars with sacrifices at a different place where Balaam will only see part of Israel and hopefully can at least weaken them.

      God tells Balaam to tell Balak that no sorcery has any power against Israel.

    • Third attempt: Balaam and Balak go the top of Mount Peor and again has seven altars built with sacrifices.

    • Balaam's prophecy: Balaam realizes that the Lord intends to bless Israel. The Spirit of the Lord comes on him and he delivers a prophecy and a vision of Israel and says "...Blessed is everyone who blesses you, O Israel, and cursed is everyone who curses you."

    • Balaam's final prophecy: Balaam prophecies that "A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel".

      This star is usually assumed to refer to the Messiah.

      And he prophecies that Moab, Amalek and Edom will be conquered and the Kenites will be taken captive by Assyria and that eventually Assyria will also be destroyed.

      Then Balaam and Balak return to their homes.

  • Chapter 25
    - Moab Seduces Israel

    • Israel is camped at Shittim, the final encampment before they cross the Jordan (Joshua 2:1). Satan brings forth another way of keeping Israel out of the promised land.

    • Numbers 31:16 and Revelation 2:14 reveal that it was Balaam's idea to involve Israel in sexual sin with the local Moabite women/prostitutes and then to be sucked into their Baal worship.

      Numbers 31:16: “These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the Lord at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the Lord’s people.

      Revelation 2:14: “But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin.

      Numbers 31:8: All five of the Midianite kings—Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba—died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword .

      Joshua 13:22: The Israelites had also killed Balaam son of Beor, who used magic to tell the future.

    • God orders Moses to execute the ringleaders and impale their bodies on stakes.

    • One Israelite man, Zimri, even brought a Moabite woman into the Israelite camp into his tent and Phinehas ran his spear through the man into the woman's stomach, killing both.

    • 24,000 died (including 1,000 of the leaders who were executed) as a result of this sin:1 Corinthians 10:8: And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day.

    • Because of what he did, God made a special covenant with Phinehas (Eleazar's son and Aaron's grandson) that he and his descendants would be priests for all time.

    • God orders Moses to attack the Midianites and destroy them.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation of the Bible.

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