Bible commentaries – December 8, 2019

Explore the Bible

God judges

Numbers 14:5-19

The Christian life is a life in constant motion. When we step out in faith, we are trusting God for the results. When we don’t step out in faith, we are taking a step backwards in fear. God often takes us to the very threshold of a great moment in our life but fear keeps us from taking that necessary step of faith. The results can be tragic and life defining.

This lesson contains one of the saddest and most tragic experiences of Israel’s long history. This tragic experience resulted in devastating consequences. The people were about to enter the land flowing with milk and honey. Moses sent a spy from each of the ancestral tribes, which included Joshua and Caleb. This 40-day spy mission was to assess the quality of the land, the types of cities, the number of inhabitants and whether or not these inhabitants were weak or strong.

The men came back with some fruit and said the land was indeed flowing with milk and honey. However, the people were strong and some were giants. The cities were large and fortified. This caused a stir in the camp. Caleb quieted the people and made a call-to-arms to take the land. All of Israel wept and complained to Moses and Aaron and planned to appoint their own leader and return to Egypt. They even threatened to stone Moses and Aaron.

As this was going on, the Lord appears to all of Israel at the tent of meeting. The Lord wanted to destroy the people but Moses interceded for them. He didn’t destroy them, but they would experience God’s judgment for their lack of faith and subsequent disobedience. God struck the 10 spies with a plague. The nation would wander in the wilderness for 40 years and die there. Only their children, Caleb and Joshua would enter the land.

Warren Wiersbe said, “Unbelief is serious because it challenges the character of God and rebels against the will of God.” Remember Caleb’s words and move forward in faith, “The Lord is with us” (Num. 14:9).

Bible Studies for Life

Is there a God?

Psalm 19:1-6; 111:7-10

My wife and I vacationed in Sedona. The crystal clear, dark Arizona sky was a perfect place for stargazing. As the sun rose over red rocks, it eclipsed all other celestial bodies. The sunrise between the red peaks flooded the desert landscape with beautiful reds, oranges and purples. It was an awesome sight.

David was in a similar setting when he was moved to praise, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psa. 19:1). Creation gives a visual argument for the existence of God as it speaks of a conscious, intelligent and sustaining Creator. David says that creation is constantly speaking revealing knowledge (Psa. 19:1-2). This knowledge is general revelation of God’s character, power, goodness and faithfulness. This message goes out to the entire world because the whole world is covered with God’s handiwork (Psa. 19:4).

In Psalm 111:7-10, we are told that all of God’s works are faithful and just. His commands are trustworthy and eternal. God’s greatest work was the redemption of His people. This leads the Psalmist to praise but praise has a condition, “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Psa. 111:10). The word “beginning” means “the starting point” or it is often translated as “first principle.” It is the primary element or fruit of wisdom. Fearing God leads to wisdom about Him and then leads to praise of Him.

Not every person who looks at creation or reads the Bible believes in the existence of God. Carl Sagan, in his book “Cosmos,” said, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” This is a statement of atheistic materialism. Sagan believed man created God and religion to help make sense of the cosmos. He believed science would eventually replace God.

Creation points to God’s existence but Scripture, special revelation, points to a God who can be known personally. When we acknowledge the existence of God, we are on the path to wisdom and spiritual insight, but that is not enough. We need to know God fully through His Son Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

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