Formations lesson for July 20: The Reputation of God
July 11 2003 by Tommy Bratton , Numbers 14:1-23

Formations lesson for July 20: The Reputation of God | Friday, July 11, 2003

Friday, July 11, 2003

Formations lesson for July 20: The Reputation of God

By Tommy Bratton Numbers 14:1-23

God delivered the Israelites from Egypt after 400 years of slavery, using Moses to bring the people out and to build a great nation. The Israelites witnessed God's power as the people overcame the Egyptians through the miracles of God. They witnessed the parting of the Red Sea. They watched God provide water from a rock in the middle of the desert and manna from heaven. They experienced God's presence each step of their journey. They saw God's power to deliver them from any difficulty or enemy they faced. However, the Israelites failed to trust God's promise when confronted with the humanly impossible task of occupying the Land of Canaan, which God had promised to them.

How Soon They Forget The passage for today begins after the people have heard the report from the 12 spies who were sent to check out the land of Canaan. Ten of the spies report seeing giants in the land that made them appear as small as grasshoppers (Numbers 13:33). They inform the congregation that there is no way they can conquer the land. The fear of the inhabitants of the land quickly causes the Israelites to forget the promise of God - God has already given them the land of milk and honey.

The Israelites begin complaining and weeping at the news. They discount all of God's miracles and all of God's fulfilled promises as soon as they hear the negative report of 10 spies. They cried out to return to the familiar of setting of Egypt, as miserable as it was, rather than pay the price of progress.

In the midst of difficulties today, we sometimes forget that God has brought us to this place and God will never leave us. We find ourselves thinking like the spies - we cannot overcome such overwhelming odds against us. How soon we forget that it is God who gives us the victory if we trust God's promises and go forth.

Trusting God's Promises After the 10 spies give their pessimistic report of the land of Cannan, Caleb and Joshua give a more optimistic assessment of the land, which focuses on God's promise. Caleb suggests that they immediately advance into the land and occupy it. He is confident of success (Numbers 13:30). Caleb understood that when the presence of God is with us, there is no need to fear even the most powerful force against us.

When his report is ignored, the whole congregation begin to complain against their leaders, Moses and Aaron. Some wanted to choose new leaders who would take them back to Egypt. This attitude reveals their lack of trust in God's promises. Moses and Aaron fall on their faces before the assembly because they understood the uprising of the people to be an insult to God.

It is often easier for us to place blame on our leaders rather than recognize our own fear and lack of trust in God. It is always easier to return to the status quo than to risk and sacrifice for the future promises of God.

The Nature of God Caleb gives a dynamic appeal to the people, encouraging them to temper their fears and to trust in God, who had promised the land. He argues that if God is pleased with them, they will prevail. Yet after his speech, the congregation tried to stone him (Numbers 14:10).

Then begins a conversation between God and Moses. God expresses frustration and hurt over the distrust of the Israelite people. "How long will they despise me?" God asks. The lack of trust in God is an affront to His loving and giving nature.

Moses appeals to God when He threatens to abandon the people of Israel. Moses speaks of God's abundant mercies and reminds God of the great acts He has accomplished through the Israelites. God agrees to forgive the people, showing His steadfast love and mercy (Numbers 14:18). However, God tells Moses that those who have tested God, despite all God has done for them, will never see the Promised Land. Though God is merciful and will forgive our sins, God does not clear us from the consequence of our actions.

May we all remember the goodness of God, trust in God's promises and live abundant lives of faith!

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7/11/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tommy Bratton , Numbers 14:1-23 | with 0 comments
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