Bible commentaries – December 15, 2019

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God requires

Numbers 20:1-13

We have many angry idioms in the English language: “short fuse,” “fly off the handle,” “foam at the mouth,” “fit to be tied,” “bent out of shape,” “hit the roof,” “off the wall,” “off the deep end,” “blow one’s top,” “blood is boiling,” and “blow a gasket,” among others. Do any of these describe you?

Moses let his anger get the best of him. I can sympathize with Moses. The Israelites had done nothing but complain the whole journey from Egypt. Moses had their back. Every time God wanted to destroy them, Moses interceded for them and God relented. Moses was a phenomenal leader but, as with all leaders, sometimes he faltered. This lesson teaches us that God works through leaders who humbly and obediently follow Him.

Israel had no water for the community or for the livestock. The people did what they did best – complained. “Why have you led us up from Egypt to bring us to this evil place?” (Num. 20:5). Don’t miss the irony of what they said next, “It’s not a place of grain, figs, vines, and pomegranates, and there is no water to drink!” (Num. 20:5). This was exactly what was available in the promised land Israel had refused to enter.

Moses and Aaron fell before God. God told Moses to take his staff, assemble the people and speak to the rock. Moses struck the rock twice and it brought forth water, problem solved. Moses’ disobedience revealed he was letting his anger to get the best of him.

Moses harshly rebuked the people (Num. 20:10). He took credit for what God had done, “Must we bring water out of this rock for you?” (Num. 20:10). He resented the Israelites and lost his temper (Num. 20:11). He and Aaron failed to glorify God (Num. 20:12). God judged all of this as rebellion (Num. 20:24). Neither Moses or Aaron would be allowed to enter the promised land.

No matter how great a leader is, anything less than full obedience is unacceptable. God requires total obedience despite what we have accomplished in the past.

Bible Studies for Life

Does absolute truth exist?

John 1:14-18; 8:30-32; 18:36-38

The hatred and hostility of the Jewish aristocracy for Jesus had reached its intended climax. Jesus stood before Pilate, accused of being a king. Pilate’s questioning of Jesus was not to ascertain the truth but to do a threat assessment. If Jesus thought he was a king, He could be a threat to Pilate’s authority and lead an uprising. Jesus’ reply made no such claim in the political sense, but only in a spiritual sense. Jesus explains that He came into the world to testify to the truth (John 18:37). In a cynical and dismissive manner, Pilate asks, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). It was a rhetorical question, Pilate was not interested in the truth. Ironically, the answer to his question was standing right in front of him. Jesus is literally truth incarnate and the King of Truth (John 14:6; 18:37).

Pilate’s question reflected the cynicism of his culture. Skeptics taught that truth was unknowable and that absolute truth did not exist. This is what we describe today as “relativism.” In relativism, there is no absolute standard of truth, there is no right or wrong and there is only what is consider relative to that situation.

The Bible doesn’t specifically speak of absolute truth, but does connect truth with God. John MacArthur makes this connection in his definition, “Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God.” Contrary to skepticism, truth can be known. Jesus said in His prayer to the Father, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

The Bible is the Word of God. John MacArthur also said, “The Bible is the touchstone to which all truth claims should be brought and by which all other truth must finally be measured.” Absolute truth is recorded in the pages of the Bible. Jesus connects truth with discipleship, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples” (John 8:31).

Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of truth (John 1:14; 14:6). When we trust and follow Christ, we discover truth and experience freedom in life (John 8:32).

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