Numbers 16:41-45

The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the Lord’s people” they said. But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the Tent of Meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the Tent of Meeting and the Lord said to Moses. Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.  And they fell face down.

 Three months after God’s discipline began a major rebellion erupted in the church. In less than 48 hours the Lord had appeared twice to put an end to the people he delivered from Egypt. It can be difficult to understand why God is eager to destroy “his people” unless you know what the Lord knows. The Lord knows who is his and who isn’t.[1]  The Lord knows who is in the church seeking personal gain and who is in the church because they love him. We don’t know everything the Lord knows. 

Jesus told a parable explaining how to protect the wheat God planted, that doesn’t know everything God knows, as they grow into maturity.[2] If an enemy sows tares among the wheat, the stewards of God’s field must let both grow together until the wheat is ripe. Another way of saying until the time is right. Even if the stewards are mature enough to discern who the Lord planted and who an enemy planted, the immature wheat growing next to tares will not be able to discern who is the Lord’s and who is not. If the stewards’ pull up the tares before it is clear to the wheat that the person they have been growing side by side with is a tare planted by an enemy, the wheat will be uprooted with the tare. The wheat will rebel when the tare they loved is removed. If you are immature in God, you won’t understand why the person you have been growing with, fellowshipping with, praying with and maybe even ministering with is suddenly removed and it will make you angry to your own detriment. 

The only thing the Lord requested of Pharaoh is that he let his people go into the wilderness and worship him. Moses did not try to convert Pharaoh, a tare that the enemy planted among his people. I cannot find a scripture that states Moses invited Pharaoh to join them in the worship of his God. Had Pharaoh allowed the children of Jacob to worship the God they chose in the manner their God required, Pharaoh could have lived out his natural life worshiping the idol he choose. Pharaoh was a tare among wheat who worshipped and taught others how to worship, but he did not worship a living God, the God of Abraham. Pharaoh got himself into trouble because he would not let men choose. Pharaoh’s way of worshipping made men so miserable they wanted to serve a God that was not under Pharaoh’s control and he refused to let them. Every one in Egypt had to worship according to Pharaohs dictates and that arrogance resulted in an early death for Pharaoh and all who refused to separate from him. 

Korah’s church had been in operation long enough to have won the support of 250 famous men. It is interesting to note that neither the Lord nor the Lord’s men, Moses and Aaron, did anything, at least not anything recorded, to shut down this unauthorized church within the church. They acted according to Jesus parable to let the tares and the wheat grow together.

Korah got himself in trouble for the same reason Pharaoh did. He tried to control God’s church. If Korah and his men had stayed in their own church, Korah’s followers could have worshipped following Korah’s dictates until they died a natural death. When Korah and his followers came into God’s church with angry accusations and tried to take over, God appeared to put stop them and would have put an immediate end to it if Moses had simply moved out of God’s way. 

Moses pleaded with the Lord not to be angry with everyone when one man sins; that one man was Korah, the pastor of the unauthorized church. In response to Moses intercession God gave Korah’s followers a choice. Separate yourself from Korah or perish with him. Everyone who remained faithful to Korah and his circle of leaders perished in a rather dramatic fashion. Fire flamed from God’s tabernacle leaving dead charred bodies at the feet of Aaron. Through out the camp the earth opened to swallow the people whose hearts belonged to Korah.

The time to cleanse the church was right when the truth came to light. Korah didn’t really want a separate church. Korah wanted to control God’s church, so he could implement his own ideas. Once the elders of Moses church understood that everything Moses did was God’s idea and that God was justified in his actions, it only took God a mere moment of time to cleanse all the spots and blemishes off of his church. For the first time in months, maybe even a year, the church was clean again.

After the shock of God’s judgment on the spots and blemishes began to wear off, the people in Moses’ church began to grieve over the loss of their brothers. They were saved together, baptized together and went to church together, until these brothers decided to form their own church. You did not have to attend Korah’s church to know all the good these men had done. Without doubt many of the people that remained in Moses church saw nothing wrong with this new liberal church that gave more people an opportunity to minister. They would never go to Korah’s church but Korah was not hurting anyone. The people who survived God’s judgment didn’t understand why Korah’s church had been destroyed.

Bear in mind that the children of Jacob did not have the methods of mass communications that we do. Even with the technology available today, we seldom get all the facts in an accurate manner. What happened to Korah and his followers spread through the camp by word of mouth and no doubt was distorted from mouth to mouth. The men who died became men of renown in the church because they were men with great gifts. The people that were left after God gave the church a good cleansing were bewildered because the men who died went to church every Sabbath, prayed and did good works. They were leaders in Moses church before Korah gave them a censer and allowed them to do what only Aaron was permitted to do. It is the good we do that blind us to the truth and makes it hard to discern who is the Lord’s and who is not.

The people who died in Korah’s rebellion were charismatic men that served faithfully in their church BUT they did not want what God wanted. God wanted them to be disciplined for forty years. They wanted to be high priest who offered up incense before God. They don’t want out of the church. They wanted control of the church. On the outside they looked, acted and even talked like their hearts were right with God. God even used them to minister to others in the church. But on the inside they were corrupt because they are not content with the place God gave them to minister.

There will be many bewildered when Jesus returns and famous gifted men with a lifetime of doing good deeds on their resume cry out Lord let us in your kingdom. We prophesied. We cast out devils. We did miracles; the sick were healed under our ministries. Jesus will look at them and wonder why they call him Lord when they did not use the gifts he gave them to fulfill God’s desire for their life and ministry.[3] His answer to their query will be, I never knew you and you can’t come in. My paraphrase, you loved your ministry but you did not love ME.

Before morning, the grief of the people who stayed in Moses church turned into anger because they truly believed that the spots and blemishes on the church were the Lord’s people. They are angry with Moses and Aaron because they believed that the leaders who died, among them Moses own cousin, were in right relationship with God and now Korah’s church was ruined. What right does our church have to destroy another church that is doing good deeds in the land? Their church didn’t have a right to destroy another church but their church did not destroy Korah’s church. Their God did!

The saddest fact of this story is that the leaders who died in Korah’s rebellion were in right relationship with God at one time. At least until Korah’s willingness to give them what they wanted in ministry deceived them into rebelling against God. The men who offered incense before God were persuaded they would be acceptable to God or they never would have done it. The penalty for offering incense contrary to God’s command was too high. Less than a year earlier, Aaron’s sons died for offering incense contrary to God’s command. They never would have accepted Moses challenge to let God choose unless they were absolutely persuaded God would choose them.

This is one reason we should not pray for men or women committing sins unto death. They deceive people who are immature in God and destroy not only themselves but also the people they persuade to follow them. If we would stop protecting tares from God’s judgment with our intercession it would protect the wheat God planted. Do we love God or the enemy seeking to destroy us?

The next day the Lord’s people accused the Lord’s people of killing the Lords people. The Lord’s people were too immature to discern who belonged to the Lord. Let me remind you that all of the people in the wilderness had the same experiences. They were saved, delivered, baptized people who go to church every Sabbath because God had done a miracle for them.

Many of them erred in the wilderness just as they had erred in Egypt. They gave their hearts and love to men who did not love them.  Both Pharaoh and Korah used and manipulated people so they could exalt themselves in ministry. It still happens today. It happened to Paul at the Corinthian church when the Corinthians refused Paul’s godly instruction to embrace teachers who exploited them.[4] If your heart belongs to anybody but God, you will not survive God’s judgments when he cleans spots and blemishes off of his church, unless someone is gracious enough to intercede for you.

I have a book at home called Holy Fire written during the Brownsville Revival. I heard a lot about “the fire.” I also heard a lot about the river. The river was flowing and we were exhorted to get in the river. Christians wanted the river to flow and the fire to fall because people would get saved, baptized in the Holy Spirit and the church would grow. When the river flowed at Sinai the people had to drink their own sin from its waters. When the fire fell at the church in the wilderness people died and the church grew smaller. The intent of the river is to wash the sinners out of the church for their own protection. If they don’t repent in the river, when the fire falls the sinners will not survive. Better for them to be out than in when God starts cleaning house.

There is a good reason God appeared for the second time in less than 48 hours asking Moses to get out of the way, so he can put an end to these people. If the wicked people who are angry that the church is clean kill Moses and Aaron, there will be no covering to stop God from destroying all of them in a moment. This is what God wanted to do from the beginning of the rebellion and now you know why. When a rebellious man has a following, those who follow him are as corrupt as he is. But Korah and all those who openly followed him were gone. Yes, but there are still people in Moses church who followed Korah in their hearts. The people crying you killed the Lords’ people did not have the courage to leave Moses church but in their hearts they believed Korah was right. The people accusing Moses of murder don’t know who the Lord and his people are because they listened to men who love to minister but do not love the Lord. They thought they were doing the right thing, just like Korah thought he was doing the right thing. There is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof is death.[5]

 Numbers 16:46-50

Then Moses said to Aaron, Take your censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started. So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah.Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, for the plague had stopped.

 When you are in a fit of anger because the church is clean it takes more than Moses intercession to calm God’s anger. Aaron must hurry. Aaron must run. It will take an Atonement to stop death this time. Atonement creates a covering for sins committed unintentionally or through ignorance. The people hurling accusations of murder at Moses and Aaron are angry because they thought the Lord’s people had been harmed. They were not willfully sinning against God. They are zealous for God’s church.

 Proverbs 19:2-3

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.  A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD.

 The people railing accusations at Moses are zealous for the Lord’s people but they had zeal without knowledge. In their haste to avenge the death of people they thought belonged to the Lord, they missed the way. They are people who had zeal for the church, but they don’t have zeal to find the truth. Their own folly ruined their life because they are too immature in spiritual matters to understand that their rage against Moses and Aaron was rage against their Lord. 

 Hosea 4:4-6

4 “But let no man bring a charge, let no man accuse another, for your people are like those who bring charges against a priest. 5 You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you……6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

 Fourteen thousand nine hundred fifty three people died because they lacked knowledge. A mere twenty-four hours had elapsed since God proved everything Moses taught them and led them to do was God’s idea. Why are they bringing charges against priests who did not die in a fire or get swallowed by the earth? The people did not take the time to search for the truth and they stumbled. 

Moses knew God’s ways and taught them the truth but they are suffering and having a hard time accepting God’s discipline as love. The only way to be saved then and now is to confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised, in their generation will raise, Jesus from the dead. They want the kingdom God had been talking about since he appeared to Abraham, they want to be that nation NOW! But they did not want to walk in the steps of Father Abraham’s faith. He died in faith never receiving the things God promised to him and his seed. Abraham died believing God raises the dead. To the day Jesus departed in clouds the children of Jacob were still asking will you give us the kingdom NOW. Do you suppose Jesus departed wondering, will you love me NOW!

What did it matter that the Lord left them in a wilderness to be shepherded for forty years that they might learn how to love when the nation they became after they crossed Jordan was destined to fail. The only nation that will not fail is the nation we become when Jesus returns and takes possession of the land promised to him in Abraham’s covenant, the covenant of love and grace. In their generation Jesus had not been born yet therefore they could not become the nation God promised Abraham and his seed. Why was the discipline to remain in a land not their own until they died so distasteful when that is what Abraham did.

God’s ways cut to the very core of our selfishness. Why should they receive in their lifetime on earth what Abraham was denied during his lifetime on earth? In fact, Jesus will come and not receive in his lifetime on earth the things God promised him either. The Bible is about one thing. Learning how to love! If you don’t learn how to love you will not survive God’s judgments.

The most foolish thing a person can do is worship a God they do not know; to worship simply because a man like Pharaoh or Korah commanded you to do it his way. When the truth comes to light and what a fool you have been is exposed it will be hard to repent. A proud man won’t repent. He will continue to worship even as he suppresses the truth and conspires to discredit those who  teach the truth.   

 Isaiah 1:2-3

2 Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”

 Jeremiah  4:22

“My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding.

 A fool worships a God he does not know. They did not know God. They did not understand God. Was there hope? Just barely, thousands died before atonement could be made for the ignorant crying the Lord’s people were killed. Moses told Aaron to run, not walk, run into the midst of the Assembly. It’s wasn’t the lost that needed atonement but the ignorant saved.

For the first time in Aaron’s ministry he did more than create misery. He stood between the living and the dead offering up a cloud of incense to cover the people so the plague would stop. Aaron finally became a minister worthy of God’s approval. There are a lot of Aaron’s in the church whose ministries do not have God’s approval today but that does not mean they will never mature and acquire God’s approval.

 Numbers 17:1-5

17:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff. 3 On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. 4 Place them in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Testimony, where I meet with you. 5 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you [Moses and Aaron] by the Israelites.”

 The next day Moses returned the twelve staff’s to the heads of each tribe. Only Aaron’s staff blossomed with God’s approval. Then the Lord told Moses to leave Aaron’s staff in the tabernacle as a sign not to grumble about the leaders God chooses and forgives lest you die.

Yes, Aaron was a lousy pastor that did stupid foolish things. He loved waving the rod of God around causing misery for sinners, he taught the people lies about their God and participated in a conspiracy against God’s government. Aaron caused the people of God much pain. But Aaron was also a man who repented of his sins and paid an equal price in pain for the sins he committed against God and his people.

In our pain we often fail to see that God did not leave the sins committed against us by our leaders unpunished. God shows no partiality. Every sin will be accounted for but that does not mean you have to lose everything, be cut off and forgotten about. If we repent like Aaron did God will let us keep our place like he did Aaron, the High Priest and like he did King David after David committed adultery and murder. The Lord’s people need to understand that the Lord has not committed an injustice against them when he forgives an Aaron or a David. Everyone reaps the consequences of his or her sin. Both Aaron and David paid a high price for their foolishness that resulted in the death of their own sons. [6]

 Numbers 17:12-13 KJV

12 And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish. 13 Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the LORD shall die: shall we be consumed with dying?

 The church was clean and God proved Moses and Aaron were his chosen leaders when this emotional outburst poured from the Lord’s people. You can hardly blame them. It had been an extremely difficult two years and thousands of people had died. But once the church was clean and the congregation accepted the men the Lord chose to lead them no one else died by God’s hand in their generation. A fact easily overlooked unless you study with a chronological Bible. After Korah’s church disappeared and atonement was made for the people nothing significant happened for Moses to write about for the next 38 years. Then you find the people grumbling again but it is not this generation because they all died in the wilderness. The children picked up where their parents left off. If you do not learn the lessons of the past, you are destined to repeat them. 


[1] 2 Timothy 2:19

[2] Matthew 13:24-30

[3] Luke 6:46

[4] 2 Corinthians 11:19-21 NIV

[5] Proverbs 14:12; 16:25

[6] Aaron sin cost him two of his sons. David’s sins resulted in the death of his son by Bathsheba and produced rape and murder in his own family as well as war for the rest of his days.


The Hebrew word chatta and the Greek word hamartano that are translated sin in the Bible have a common meaning: to miss or to err so as not to share in the prize. Even if we kept the whole law perfectly yet missed it on one point of law we are guilty of breaking the whole law in God’s eyes.[1] The evidence that all have missed, erred or sinned is confirmed by two things: the Bibles declaration that the wages of sin is death and the fact that we all die.[2] In other words, if we had no sin we would not die.

Being a sinner does not automatically mean we are bad people doing evil things without shame. A study of the Bible and history reveals that good people striving to do good things commit the worst of sins. Eve desired something good: to be wise like God. Her desire caused her to err and everyone who descended from Adam and Eve are still paying a price for the good Eve desired. King Saul of the Old Testament worshipped God and cherished his relationship with godly Samuel, yet he erred in his efforts to please God and his family lost the throne. Saul of the New Testament erred when his zeal without love moved him to inflict great suffering on the church.

Every one misses the mark, and every one dies as a result of sin. However, there are some sins that are more serious than others and carry a greater penalty.  

 1 John 5:16

If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that.

 Every ones dies because of sin yet John tells us there are sins that lead to death and sins that don’t. If all sin and all die because of sin what was John talking about?

Before Noah’s flood people lived as long as 900 years. After the flood they barely reached 200 years.[3] Today, it is rare to make it to 100. We find in the Psalms that God has given us at least 70 years.[4] Some live longer than the promised 70, some don’t, but if God hadn’t intervened to grant at least 70 years humanity may have ceased to exist by now. Sin robs us of time. 

While it is true that the end of all sin is death there are some sins worse than other sins because they can cause an early death. In essence, John told us if we see someone commit a sin that does not lead to an early death we can pray about that sin and God will grant life for the sinner, apparently, without the sinner even knowing he sinned and has been granted life. John did not instruct us to go to the brother about the offending sin we saw him commit. He instructed us to go to God. On the other hand, if we see someone commit a sin that leads to death or rather a sin that will cut their life short, we are instructed to stay out of it, don’t even pray about it, indeed we would be wise to avoid people who commit such sins.   

Moses intercession spared God’s people more than one time but Moses only prayed for those who sinned ignorantly and for those who repented of their sin. Moses did not intercede for people who committed sins that led to death unless they asked him to intercede. At Pharaoh’s request, Moses interceded more than one time but his intercession did not spare Pharaoh from an early death. Pharaoh repeatedly asked for prayer, but he never repented. Moses brother Aaron also committed a sin unto death. God wanted to kill Aaron when he taught the people to worship a cow. Unlike Pharaoh, Aaron repented and Moses intercession preserved his life until he became a minister God approved.

There are sins that provoke God to cut a persons life short. This lesson is about one of those sins. If we really want to know the kind of sin that moves God to be severe, we need to listen when God calls someone a “sinner.” 

 Numbers 16:36-38

36 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 37 Speak unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, that he take up the censers out of the burning, and scatter thou the fire yonder; for they are hallowed [or holy]. 38 The censers of these sinners …

 When God said “these sinners” he was talking about men who held positions of leadership in the church. The holy things they handled survived the fire. The sinners did not. It is interesting to note that the sin of these sinners did not stop God’s things from being holy. God consumed the sinners in a fire cutting their life short, and then sent Eleazar to collect the holy things for continued use in the service of God. 

The men God called sinners were saved out of Egypt, baptized in water and full of the Spirit of God. Yet, they perished in the presence of God because they missed it.[5] They fell short. They were not bad people trying to do bad things without shame. To the contrary, they were famous men in the church loved by multitudes.

 What happen to these saved, baptized men who ate and drank from the spiritual rock called Christ in the wilderness that their God called them sinners and destroyed them? We need to know. What happened to them could happen to any of us. If you are thinking it can’t because we live under grace and God no longer does such things, read the book of Acts until you get to the story of Annaias and Sapphira. It is not the devil we need to fear, but our God, for he alone decides when our life on earth is over.

It is time for the church to stop blaming the ills of the society we live in on the sins of people who never darken the door of a church. Their sins do not cause a fraction of the havoc that the sins of men and women in ministry do. A corrupt church counts as big sins things God counts as nothing, while God counts as big sins things people in the church feel justified in doing. Korah, Dathan, Abriam, and 250 men of renown thought they were doing the right thing when they boldly committed a sin that resulted in an early death.


To understand what led these men to become sinners in the sight of God, we need to understand the time and the circumstances. According to Reese’s Chronological Bible the people were sentenced to be shepherded in a wilderness until a generation died around October 1461. The death of 250 men God called sinners took place in December 1461, three months after God’s discipline began.

The book of Hebrews tells us God’s discipline is painful.[6] When God’s judgments produce pain in your life, you must take great care that a bitter root does not take hold in your heart and sprout into a sin that leads to death.[7] The things that happened to the church in the wilderness were written as a warning to prevent us from making the same mistakes. Let’s learn what happened lest we make the same mistake.

The children of Jacob left Egypt for a better life but that life was always out of reach. They came so close and were yet so far again and again as they had to wait for that better life one more time.  The book of Proverbs tells us that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,”[8] The Hebrew word translated “sick” in this Proverb means to be rubbed or worn. When something you hope for is deferred it makes your heart worn out, weary, fed up, and tired. When you get to this dangerous place it is easy to sin and feel justified in doing so. A lot of famous people in leadership sinned at Kadesh because they were sick and tired of never getting the better life they had been promised in Egypt. They were at the breaking point when Moses told them to accept that they would not possess the promised better life of milk and honey in their lifetime. 

The experience of Jacob’s children is not unlike the experience of many today. Jacob’s children attended a revival meeting at Goshen and saw miracles. They believed and wanted to worship this God. For the first time in a very long time they had hope of a better life. Only to have their hope deferred as they waited in Egypt for God to be merciful to the people who had made their lives a misery. After the revival, Pharaoh, the leader they loved and worshiped as a god, quit supplying the straw they needed to make bricks. Then Pharaoh sent his lackeys to whip the Hebrew leaders who sold their brothers into Pharaoh’s service for failing to produce the demanded quota of bricks.

When God showed up life became harder instead of better. If they had left immediately after the revival meeting none of this would have happened. Finally, Moses told them to kill a lamb and splash blood on the doors of their homes. Before they finished eating their lamb Egypt all but threw them out of the land with Egypt’s riches in their hand. At last the journey to a better life had begun.

But Moses did not bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey. He brought them to a mountain in a desert where their hope was deferred again while God established a covenant of law with them. Then God showed up and scared them so bad they didn’t want God to talk to them anymore. God was so frustrated with them he moved out of the camp and refused to continue the journey with them. Moses persuaded God to change his mind but it seemed like every time you turn around God was killing somebody. No doubt many of Jacob’s children wondered why they ever left Egypt for a better life and began murmuring that they had been lied to.

They finally arrived at the door of the Promised Land only to peek in side and end up in a fuss with one another as they railed at Moses, “You didn’t tell us we would have to fight gods! We will die and our women and children will be defenseless!” Now they were sure they had been lied to!

God was amazed! After all he had done for them in Egypt what were they afraid of. Had they forgotten that their God turned Pharaoh, also considered a god, into carrion?  The children of Jacob continually reproached God by claiming he brought them into the desert to kill them. They insulted God by claiming the sons of mortal men are greater than he is. They despised God and were making plans to elect a new leader and return to Egypt when God appeared and the better life they hoped for was deferred again. This time what they hoped for was moved so far into the future they would not live long enough to partake of the promise.

The hope of the people had been deferred at least three times within a two-year period. They did not know God’s ways. Therefore, they did not understand the delays as they sought to obtain the better life they were promised. The delay in Egypt revealed that Pharaoh is not worth serving. Why did they desire to return to Egypt and serve a man that made impossible demands of them and then beat them when they failed? The delay at Sinai to establish a covenant of law was designed to lead them to Christ and the better covenant of grace that would give them a better life than the covenant of law could. Their hope was deferred at the border of the Promised Land. God refused to be mocked by people that despise, insult and reproached him. They didn’t want God, so he gave them what they wanted.

God will leave us in a miserable life and prove to us over and over and over that he loves us until we repent of the hatred in our hearts or perish. When God sent them into the wilderness for forty years, God went with them. He lived in the tabernacle they built for him. If God hated them why didn’t he abandon them? If God brought them into the wilderness to kill them, why did he wait while the people who did not want him lived out their natural life?

The children of Jacob are stuck in a wilderness living under a harsh, unforgiving covenant of law because they do not love God.[9] All they see in God is evil. The evil in them continually came out of their mouth until it brought evil into their lives. They are the ones that said it would be better to die in a wilderness than do what God desires. It was the evil in their hearts causing the delays that wore them out and made their lives bitter. 

The people are sick and tired of having what they hoped for delayed again and again. To make matters even worse they repented and attempted to obey God by entering the Promised Land but God spurned their repentance and let their enemies defeat them.[10] On the surface, God’s treatment of them appears to confirm their belief that God intends nothing but evil for them. The good they attempted to do blinded them to the insulting reproach their repentance was in God’s eyes when they presumptuously tried to change God’s judgment that they should remain in a wilderness 40 years until they died.

Jacobs children were faced with the painful reality that everyone 20 years old and up will not possess the better life they were promised when they attended the revival meeting at Goshen. The only people who had any hope left at all in this rebellious church are the people willing to embrace God’s grace in the covenant he made with Abraham. Before they lost anything in the wilderness, God made a way for them to obtain something better. For the better life they desired could still be theirs if they will confess with their mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in their hearts God raised, in their generation will raise, Jesus from the dead. The law could never give them what Jesus can – more time! Yes, they could walk down the Roman Road to salvation before Paul penned the book of Romans. They were saved the same way you and I get saved today.


The morale of Jacob’s children was at its very lowest when one of them wandered out of his tent on the Sabbath day and picked up some sticks. 

Numbers 15:32-34

32 While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him.

 The people knew that the man gathering wood did something wrong or they would not have made a citizen’s arrest and brought him to their leaders. But their leaders did not know what to do. They claimed the law wasn’t clear. It is true that the people kept the man in custody because they said the law was not clear. But it wasn’t true that the law was not clear. The law plainly said,

 Exodus 35:2-3

2 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. 3 Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

 Now put yourself in the wilderness with the children of Jacob. When God said do not work it was clear to them what he meant. They did not go to places of employment for eight hours a day to earn money so they could buy what they needed. Their work was gathering the things they needed – like wood to make a fire. The law was clear that this man was working and should be put to death.

The demand of law was so harsh God’s people did not want to do it, so they put the man in jail while Moses consulted the Lord.  The Lord said no more or less than the law said, “Kill him.” The idea of living by the law was fine until the people that agreed to live by the law had to enforce the law. Nobody wanted to put this man to death for such a minor offense like gathering wood. The truth is God did not desire to put this man to death for such a minor offense either, if he did he would not have allowed Jesus to die on some wood, so he could change the law.

The covenant God entered into with the children of Jacob legally bound God to the dictates of the law just like the people are bound to live by the law. They have a covenant both parties agreed to live by sealed with blood and dinner. God will not fail in even one point of law for then he to would be guilty of all. Now the children of Jacob must do what they agreed to do, live by the law or be cursed. Moses returned from discussing the matter with God and to the people’s credit they performed the requirement of law, but it left a bad taste in their mouth and stirred up a major conspiracy to overthrow the men God choose to lead them.


 Num 16:1-2(KJV)

Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:

 It took a bit of digging to uncover what happened in this conspiracy, so I’ll spare you the long details and give you a summary of the story. Some of the timing of events is speculation on my part but it fits. 

Dathan and Abiram helped Korah start his own church.[11] My best guess would be around the time Aaron’s sin resulted in the death of 3,000 people, yet Aaron retained his job of High Priest. Aaron was a lousy pastor and anyone who had to bury a loved one over the lie Aaron taught them could not disagree. Korah’s church was without doubt large and attractive to many because it was not exclusive to one family in the service of God. In Korah’s church 250 famous princes had censers to offer incense before God. In Moses church only Aaron and his children could perform this service to God.

After the leaders in Moses church killed a man for picking up sticks on the Sabbath day, Korah and his followers decided it was time to remove Moses family from power. Korah informed Moses that everyone in the church was holy and the Lord was with all of them. Then Korah accused Moses and Aaron of exalting themselves above everyone else. Moses rebuked Korah for not being content with the place God gave him. Then he chided all the Levites that supported Korah for counting it “a small thing” that God separated them from the congregation to serve in the tabernacle. Finally, Moses let Korah and his followers know that Korah was the only one trying to exalt himself above others. Moses challenged Korah and his followers to meet him at God’s tabernacle and God would prove whom he chose and who chose themselves!

Korah ran back to his church and called an emergency meeting of the elders. He informed them that Moses had challenged them to a showdown.[12] Tomorrow, they would all go to God’s tabernacle with their censers and God would expose who is his and who is not his. During the meeting Dathan and Abiram received a message summoning them to appear before Moses. The summons struck fear in their hearts[13] and to save face they mocked Moses by using Moses words in their complaint saying, “Is it a small thing” that Moses brought us out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in a wilderness. Dathan and Abiram believed their eyes had been opened by Korah.  Moses had lied to them about God giving them an inheritance and deceived the nation into believing he should be their leader.

The next morning the only people who came to God’s tabernacle were the 250 famous leaders who attended Korah’s church. These men were thoroughly persuaded they were doing the right thing or they would not have come to offer incense at God’s tabernacle.[14] Less than a year earlier, Aaron’s own sons offered incense contrary to God’s command and were instantly killed by fire. That episode no doubt confirmed their belief that Aaron’s family was not acceptable to God and should be removed, so Korah could be installed in his place. They believed Korah was kind and merciful. He would never kill someone for picking up sticks. The stakes were high. If these men are wrong, they will die like Aaron’s sons, and they know it. Korah had them so convinced they were doing the right thing ,they were not afraid to offer incense contrary to God’s written commands.  

Korah, Dathan and Abiram were supposed to be at this showdown, but they didn’t show up. When your leaders send you to do the dirty work, it’s a good indication your leaders are dirty. Korah deceived them and then sent them on a suicide mission while he sat in his church office hoping they would succeed, and he could take over.[15] Dathan and Abiram already let everyone know they did not have to obey Moses, so they stayed home too.

When Moses inquired where Korah, Dathan and Abiram were the 250 famous leaders delivered Dathan and Abiram’s message Moses is a liar and they didn’t have to obey him. Then Moses did what John told us to do when we see a man commit a sin unto death. Don’t pray about it. Don’t ask life for the sinners. Moses prayed that the Lord would not accept the offering of Korah, Dathan and Abiram’s followers and the Lord was more than happy to comply.

 Numbers 16:20-22

20 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.” 22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, “O God, God of the spirits of all mankind, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”

 Did one-man sin? There were at least 253 men in places of leadership rebelling. BUT only one of those men we know for a fact was a priest selected by God to cover and protect his people. If the famous leaders had not had a priest/pastor to lead them, they would not have had the courage to rebel. Moses never failed to intercede for those who sinned ignorantly. But he did not pray for those who sinned arrogantly. God does not want us to pray for ministers like Korah who are not content with the place God gave them and lead multitudes astray so they can promote themselves in ministry. The New Testament calls them spots and blemishes.[16] If we don’t separate ourselves from these ministers we will suffer the same penalty they do when God judges them.

In response to Moses prayer that God would not be angry with everyone when one man sins, the Lord gave all of Korah’s followers a choice.

 Num 16:23-27

23 Then the LORD said to Moses, 24 “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.'” 25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.” 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

 Num 16:27 KJV

So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children.

 The Kings James holds truer to the original language than the NIV because two different Hebrew words are used for tent. The tent of Korah Dathan and Abiram is the Hebrew word mishkan[17] (mish-kawn’). It can mean a residence but it also means a temple or shrine, hence it is a residence for a deity. The first time this word is used in the Bible God was telling Moses to build him a mishkan or a tabernacle.

 God told Moses to tell Korah’s followers to move away from the mishkan of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. In verse 27 we read some did separate themselves from the mishkan/tabernacle of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Then Dathan and Abiram came out and stood in the door of their tents, a completely different Hebrew word; ohel[18] (o’-hel), a tent, home, dwelling place.  Korah was not stand in the door of his ohel because he was at the mishkan, the tabernacle he built with the help of Dathan and Abiram, waiting for his followers to come back and tell him Moses and Aaron had been humiliated.

Thankfully, we can start new churches when the old ones fail us. It’s called freedom from religious tyranny. But in this case the original church had not corrupted. It was being lead by men who obeyed God’s command. Moses was far from perfect, but he was always faithful to intercede for the people who sinned ignorantly and the people who repented. That we never hear the name of On the son of Peleth mentioned again tells me he repented and was spared from an early death. 

Once the elders who followed Moses to the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan and Abiram understood that the earth would open its mouth and swallow these men as evidence Moses had obeyed the Lord it did not take God very long to clean all the spots and blemishes off his church.

 Numbers 16:31-35

31 As soon as he [Moses] finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah’s men and all their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. 34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!” 35 And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

 It does not take God very long to clean up his church but it does take a long time for people to understand that God is justified in what he has done. As soon as Moses made it clear to the elders how they could know everything that was done to them was Gods idea things started popping. People started falling in holes in the ground, 250 famous leaders were instantly incinerated in front of God’s tabernacle and everyone else was running around screaming we are all going to die.

Now look again at who was swallowed by the earth. 

 Numbers 16:32

. . .and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them with their households and all Korah’s men and all their possessions. They went down alive into the grave with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community.

 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed “them” meaning Korah, Dathan and Abiram with their households “and”  all Korah’s men.  Korah, Dathan and Abiram were not the only ones swallowed by the earth. The earth swallowed Korah’s men and all their possessions too. Who were Korah’s men? Let me tell you who it’s not before you try and tell me who it is. It’s not Dathan and Abiram. The Bible refers to them being swallowed by the earth, then says “and” signifying another group of men. It’s not the 250 leaders offering strange fire at God’s tabernacle because the earth did not swallow them. They were incinerated in fire trying to take over God’s tabernacle. Who are Korah’s men that were swallowed by the earth?


 Korah’s men were the people who chose the wrong church. God instructed Moses to tell the people to move away from the tabernacle Korah built before judgment fell. When God judged Korah, Dathan and Abiram for starting a church he did not authorize the people who refused to separate themselves from Korah’s church were swept away in the sins of the leaders they followed. Korah’s men are the people who refused to leave Korah’s church after a true man of God told them to separate themselves least they get swallowed in God’s judgment against their leaders.

The people had a choice. They chose to stay. They were not God’s men. Their hearts belonged to Korah. They are Korah’s men and you get what your man gets. That is why you can get eternal life when you don’t deserve it. Your Lord has it – if your Lord is Jesus. Is your Lord a man that is not content with the place of ministry God gave him or is Jesus your Lord?

It matters where you go to church. It matters whom you support in ministry. The New Testament is filled with warnings about wolves in sheep’s clothing. Are you God’s men or are you the pastor’s men? Do you belong to God or do you belong to a TV evangelist? Do you love your friends and family more than your God? Sometimes you have to separate yourself from friends and family least you perish with them. The families and friends of Korah, Dathan and Abiram did not have to die an early death. But if they would rather die with the wicked than honor God how can anyone say God wronged them? Jesus said,

 Luke 14: 26

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters– yes, even his own life– he cannot be my disciple.

 It sounds so unfair that whole families died in Korah’s rebellion. Why did Korah’s children have to die for their father’s sin?


 They didn’t! The only children who died for the sins their father committed were the children who committed their father’s sins.

 Numbers 26:9-11 KJV

And the sons of Eliab; Nemuel, and Dathan, and Abiram. This is that Dathan and Abiram, which were famous in the congregation, who strove against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they strove against the LORD: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men: and they became a sign. Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not.

 The only family members who died were the ones who did not separate themselves from the leaders who sinned against God.  Korah’s children were God’s men. Dathan and Abiram had a brother who loved God more than his family. Nemuel is not named in the conspiracy. The children of Korah and Nemuel did not walk in the sin of their family. They did not support Korah, Dathan and Abiram’s church. Korah’s own children never forsook the tabernacle God erected and separated the Levites to serve in. The children of a sinner grew up to be the choir appointed by King David. You can be the child of a sinner and still grow up to praise God because you have a choice. Those choices are not always easy. Sometimes you must choose between fathers, brothers, friends or God. When the children of Korah chose God, he chose them to lead his people in worship. 

[1] James 2:10

[2] Romans 5:12; 6:23

[3] Abraham died at 175 compared to Methuselah’s 969 years.

[4] Psalms 90

[5] 1 Corinthians 10:1-5

[6] Hebrews 12:10 NIV

[7] Hebrews 12:1-15

[8] Proverbs 13:12

[9] 1 Corinthians 13:5, if love thinks no evil why did they believe God would do evil things to them?

[10] Numbers 14:39-45

[11] In Num. 16:27 the Hebrew word translated tent in the NIV and tabernacle in the KJV is mishkan which means a temple or shrine. The first time mishkan is used in the Bible God is telling Moses to build him a mishkan or tabernacle.

[12] We know Korah told his followers everything Moses said because Dathan and Abiram threw back in Moses face the same phrase he used in talking with Korah, “Is it a small thing”

[13] I believe they were afraid because they did not have the courage to face Moses with Korah and their complaints. When they were called into the open they ran home and hid till Moses came to them.

[14] Proverbs 16:25 says There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

[15] We know Korah did not accompany them because he did not die in the fire but was swallowed by the earth along with Dathan and Abiram.

[16] 2 Peter 2:13; Jude11-12

[17] Strongs Number 4908

[18] Strongs Number 168


Joshua and Caleb saved themselves by faith when they believed the written word of God and were not afraid to confess it in the presence of unbelief. Their good confession revealed the hatred and murder in the hearts of their brothers and brought God himself on the scene to settle the debate.

Numbers 14:28 KJV

28 Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:…

 In the King James Bible “As truly as” is in italics because those three words are not in the original manuscripts. If we were reading this statement by the Lord word for word in the Hebrew, the Lord said, “Say unto them, live I, . . . as you have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:”[1] Our God is a living God. He hears every word we say.

If the Lord must judge us, most of the time he will give us what we say. That is one very good reason to pray for spiritual wisdom and understanding until our tongue is tamed.[2] Another good reason is found in the words of Jesus:

 Matthew 12:35-37 KJV

35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

 The words justified and condemned leave an image of being condemned to hell or granted entrance to heaven. But the Bibles use of justified and condemned is not always a reference to whether or not we are going to heaven or hell. A more literal meaning is innocent and guilty. By our words we shall be innocent or by our words we shall be guilty. Which raises a question – innocent of what or guilty of what?


 In this court case you definitely want to be guilty. I am either guilty of loving God or I am innocent, because I have not loved God. The evidence of love that either is or is not in our hearts is in our words! Whatever is in our heart WILL come out of our mouth because no man can tame the tongue.

You can control what you say to an extent and thereby hide what is really in you, but you will never stop the truth from eventually oozing out of your mouth. All it takes is a little pressure to squeeze the truth out of you.

We deceive ourselves all the time because it’s not easy to look at and accept who we really are. If you want to know who you really are, the next time you find yourself in a difficult place listen carefully to what you SAY. Do you speak like the rulers that cried all night God hates us, or do you speak like Joshua and Caleb?

When the rulers that spied out the land realized they could not take the land in their own strength; they returned to the church and proved by their words that they did not love God. They uttered a string of profanity: God will not give us the land, God bought us out here to be killed in battle, God will not protect our women and children. Anyone that promised you something if you followed him, and then killed you and abandoned your family is evil. Love “thinketh no evil”[3]. If they loved God why did they think God would do evil things to them?  Why did they think God is evil? When God appeared to save the people who loved him, he called the rulers and those who followed them evil. Not only were the rulers innocent of love for God they had no love for others. When Joshua and Caleb stood up to SAY the majority were wrong about God, the majority of the rulers SPOKE about killing the men of faith who proved they loved God by their SPOKEN words.

Before the ten rulers and those who followed them DID what they SAID God appeared and JUDGED THEM BASED ON WHAT THEY SAID! The book of Revelation tells us that there will be a day of judgment when everyone will stand before God to give an account for the life they have lived,[4] but every reference in the Bible to being judged is not about that future event. A day of judgment can be any day God must decide what to do with us. When God judges he uses our own words to judge us, even if he has to set up an event to get what he needs before he judges us.

When King David committed adultery and murder, God sent Nathan the prophet with a story about rich men who abuse poor men by taking the little they have. David judged whoever would do such a thing worthy of death BEFORE Nathan revealed, “you are the man.” The way you judge others you will be judged. David judged himself when he judged the man in Nathan’s story. At that point, God would have been justified to kill David, but God is not limited to nor is he controlled by our words and our judgments. God reserves our words and judgments about others as an option. God did not kill David, even though David judged that he deserved to die. David’s long life of love for God overcame David’s sins.

The ten rulers that spoke foolishly influencing those who followed them to believe a lie about God did not have a long life of love or even a short life of love to help them overcome their sin. Jesus said a good man from the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man from the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil things. God was David’s treasure and from that treasure David brought forth good in his life. Yes, he paid a price for his sins because God by no means clears the guilty but God did not kill him, even though David said that’s what should be done. In addition to sparing David’s life God returned David to the throne after his sins took it away from him. Love will give you mercy rights that no law can take away from you.

With a few exceptions the church in the desert did not treasure God. Thus they had no treasure from which to bring forth something good in their life. Before they left Egypt, God told them to put away their idol worship but they never did.[5] From the day God showed up in Egypt to help them, the people accused God of trying to kill them. Then they stood at the border of the Promised Land and declared we want a new leader so we can return to Egypt. If God was their treasure, why did they desire to forsake God as their leader and return to the misery God delivered them from?

God is a good God and when he speaks he brings forth good things out of the treasure of his heart because we are God’s treasure.[6]

When a good God decided what to do with an evil congregation he said, 

 Numbers 14:30-35

30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. 32 But you–your bodies will fall in this desert. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. 34 For forty years–one year for each of the forty days you explored the land–you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’ 35 I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this desert; here they will die.”

 It appears there is not much good in this judgment – but there is! There is great mercy and opportunity in this judgment if you understand Abraham’s covenant of grace and the reason God gave us the law at Sinai.

 Galatians 3:24

24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

 The New Testament tells us Christ was the rock that accompanied the church in the desert.[7] Of the twelve rulers that spied out the land two of them were justified by faith, when they spoke their faith that God loved them and would keep his word to them. The rest of the church, which had no faith in Christ, remained condemned by the law because the law of the spirit of life is the only thing that can set you free from the law of sin and death.[8] Even though Joshua and Caleb failed to obey every point of law, they overcame the law by their faith in God’s love. If the only thing that will save us is to believe God loves us why would a good God treat us evil? God’s judgment to leave Israel in the desert was not an evil judgment. The intent of God’s judgment was to bring them to Christ.

In the King James Bible Numbers 14:33 says “And your children shall wander in the desert forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the desert.” The NIV that I just read from says your children will be shepherds. The Hebrew word translated “wander” in the KJV and “shepherds” in the NIV is “ra` ah (raw-aw’); to tend a flock; i.e. pasture it; intransitively, to graze (literally or figuratively); generally to rule; by extension, to associate with (as a friend):”[9] Ra’ ah is used 163 times in the Old Testament but it is only translated “wander” ONE TIME in the King James Bible. In 162 other places it is translated, shepherd, feed, friendship, companion or pastor.

God killed the rulers who taught the people a lie about HIM influencing the nation to rebel. The nation paid a price for their sin because sin is sin whether you did it in ignorance or not. But the people who sinned because they were caught in the middle between good and evil rulers will be given mercy, or time – forty years to renew their mind. For forty years in the desert the people God delivered who had carnal minds and therefore treated God like he is an enemy will be shepherded, fed, and treated like a friend by the people who did nothing wrong but must now bear the burden of sins committed by the carnal minded.

Galatians 6:2

 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

 The law of Christ is love!

 John 15:12-13

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

 The ten rulers and their followers did not love God and would have killed God’s people BUT God and his people WILL love them! God is guilty of loving you and will never give you ammunition to prove he is innocent. If you are really God’s people, you will obey his command to love one another and it will give those who sinned ignorantly an opportunity to see the truth – God loves us! If we don’t learn how to love one another we will not survive God’s judgments and I’m not talking about the law given at Sinai, I’m talking about a law that supersedes a law no one can keep.

Joshua was 21 years old when he was informed most of his life would be spent in a desert. Caleb was 40 years old when he learned he’ll be 80 when they enter the Promised Land. How do you think Joshua and Caleb felt about that? Everything they left Egypt for, everything they hoped for, everything they were promised will be withheld from them until they are almost too old to enjoy it because their brothers listened to foolish rulers and believed God hated them.

Joshua and Caleb did nothing wrong. Joshua and Caleb believed God loves us. They returned from spying out the Promised Land with a good report about God to encourage the church. God appeared to commend them and declare Joshua and Caleb will be the only ones of the twelve to possess the land. Their ten fellow rulers dropped dead. Joshua and Caleb lived. They are ready to enter into the things God promised them but their GOOD God won’t let them have what they had faith for. Joshua and Caleb were sent back into the desert with the sinners. At this point there is only one thing that could keep Joshua and Caleb or anyone for that matter from getting bitter – love!

Joshua and Caleb laid down their life to be a friend to people who sinned so the rebellious church would have a reason to believe God still loves them – even in their rebellion. God is not looking to see how perfectly we can obey the law; God is looking for a people who will love. Even though God gave Joshua and Caleb the right to possess the land, they would have lost that right if they failed to love

Why must Joshua and Caleb spend forty years in the desert with people who foolishly choose to follow evil rulers? Why must Joshua and Caleb love these people and wait so long to possess what they have a God given right to?

Moses gave us a clue. During this discouraging time in the churches history Moses wrote his one and only Psalm. The Psalms are not history as much as they are reactions to historical events. Great despair and extreme joy can be found in the Psalms. Moses wrote Psalms 90 when God sent his people back into the desert for forty years; it reflects Moses despair and his hope. The Psalm also sets us on the trail to discover why Joshua, Caleb and the children of the people who sinned must persevere through God’s judgment against people who believed a lie, Moses wrote 

 Psalm 90:3-4

3 You turn men back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by,…

Time is important to us because our time is limited by death. Time is not a concern for God. His time is unlimited. If God wanted to wait for forty years, and then pick up where he left off, it’s not a problem – FOR GOD! That is exactly what God did when he stopped the church in the desert to have mercy on the sinners. The Apostle Peter told us why.

2 Peter 3:8-9

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 I have no doubt that Peter had in mind the events that moved Moses to write Psalms 90 when he wrote that the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise. He used the same thousand years to one day comparison Moses did. The Lord was not slow in keeping his promise to Joshua and Caleb when he judged it was time to patiently wait for everyone to come to repentance before they continued the journey. But who needed to repent? Who were they waiting for?

The people God delivered needed to repent because they believed the lies they were taught by their rulers: God hates us, God delivered us so he can kill us, God will not help and God will abandon the women and children. God did not abandon the women and children in Egypt and God will not abandon these sinners in a desert. When God sent Joshua and Caleb, whom have a right to the Promised Land, back into the desert to suffer with the sinners it was a living testimony of God’s love. If God didn’t love them why didn’t he let Joshua and Caleb enter the Promised Land without them? God would not allow the church to go forward until God and his people proved their love because it is God’s goodness that leads us to repentance.

It was not too late for the people condemned to die as strangers and foreigners in the desert to forsake a covenant of law and embrace the better promises in the covenant of grace made with Abraham and his seed, one seed meaning Christ.[10] We all get saved the same way Abraham did. He was the first and therefore Father of the faith that works by love.

The covenant of law only gave them the land to the Jordan River and a kingdom with corrupt rulers, even David the man after God’s own heart used his place of privilege to commit adultery and murder. The law cannot give us an incorruptible kingdom. King David knew that the nation he was a steward over was not the nation God promised to them. David called the nation they became after they crossed the Jordan River foreigners like their forefathers.[11] David was not satisfied with the things the law gave him. He wanted the things grace could give him because grace gave him the land to the Euphrates River and a king that will never corrupt and therefore a kingdom that will never end. 

For forty years the children would shepherd, pastor and be a friend as they bore the burden of their father’s sins. The children who had not sinned were left in the desert so God could use them to preach the gospel of grace that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God but there is hope if they will repent and put their faith and trust in the one seed of Abraham through whom they can still receive better promises. 

The people that perished in the desert during forty years of mercy did not inherit any land in their lifetime but neither did Abraham before them and neither did Jesus in his lifetime after them. Moses died in the desert, but all he lost was the corrupt nation they became after they crossed the Jordan. The nation grew as corrupt as Sodom and Gomorrah. The one seed God made promises to in the covenant of grace is the only reason the nation did not come to the same end as Sodom and Gomorrah.[12]  The people that perished in the desert still had opportunity to do what Abraham did. Live all their lives as strangers and foreigners and then die in faith believing God would raise them from the dead and give them everything he promised. But they must believe God loves them and does not lie.

God’s treatment of the people who sinned against him gives all of us hope and a choice. We have hope that it is not to late to have a part in all God promised to do. We have a choice between law and grace. Do you want to obtain his promises by obeying a covenant of law or would you rather receive his grace? 




[1]  (Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright (c) 1994 by Biblesoft)

[2] James 3:7

[3] 1 Corinthians 13:5

[4] Revelation 20

[5] Ezekiel 20:4-10

[6] Ephesians 1:18, Living Bible

[7] 1 Corinthians 10:3-4

[8] Romans 8:1-4

[9] 7462 (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

[10] Galatians 3:16

[11] 1 Chronicles 29:15

[12] Isaiah 1:9-10


Our society has decided certain words are obscene and should not be spoken in polite company. We consider such words so vile it would make us gasp in dismay if one of them were uttered within the hallowed halls of the church. We are even offended to hear these words within the hearing of our holy ears when we are NOT in the church. We will walk out of theaters lest our holiness is defiled. We will buy devices that bleep such language, so we can watch movies with images worse than the language. Am I mocking our concern over inappropriate communications? Absolutely Not! I simply question why we go to such great lengths to shield ourselves from things we consider offensive yet tolerate without a thought of shame the kind of inappropriate communications that offend our God.
Let’s listen to some rulers of the church in the wilderness communicate their observations of the Promised Land and Gods intent for the people he delivered from Egypt.

Numbers 13:32-33 KJV
32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 And we saw the giants the sons of Anak, which come of the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Get the soap! These rulers in the church have foul, filthy mouths. Every time they speak the stench makes angels hold their noses in disgust. Did you hear what the rulers really said? I’m not sure they understood what they really said but that didn’t make their communications any less evil. They called good evil.

Isaiah 5:20-21
20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

God had already searched out the land and declared the land is GOOD, so why did the rulers of God’s people call the land evil that God had called GOOD? The rulers claimed the land would devour them. God and the rulers looked at the same thing and came up with different opinions. A good God saw good. Evil rulers saw evil. Of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and now we know what was in the hearts of ten rulers. Evil came out of their mouths because evil was in their hearts.

What was the evil in the hearts of these rulers that caused their mouths to give an evil report? There is a clue in the statement the rulers made about grasshoppers. The rulers said, “we were in our own sight as grasshoppers.” Then they said we were grasshoppers in the sight of the sons of Anak. The way the rulers perceived themselves and Anak was the source of the evil coming out of their mouth.

Isaiah 40:21-22
21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.

The rulers saw themselves as grasshoppers because the rulers saw themselves as God’s. When the rulers said we were in our own sight as grasshoppers they sat on their thrones and declared we are wiser than God. When the rulers said we were as grasshoppers in the sight of the sons of Anak they exalted Anak’s sons to be greater gods then they esteemed themselves to be. Then the rulers came to the logical conclusion that Anak’s sons could not be overcome. In the eyes of these rulers they were wiser than their God.

When the God of Abraham looks upon the earth at its people he does not see grasshoppers. He sees people acting like grasshoppers. The Hebrew word translated grasshopper as grasshopper in Isaiah 40 means locust. Locusts can be very destructive, consuming entire fields until there is nothing left. When locusts swarm they can create darkness for miles by forming a cloud dense enough to block the sunlight.

Get a swarm of religious people together that are wise in their own eyes and they will block the light of the SON and render the church incapable of moving forward. The rulers of God’s people were blocking the light when they stood before the congregation in the wilderness and called evil what God called good. They served a living God and they know he delivered them, but they don’t know who God is. They saw mere men and thought they saw Gods.
Anak the son of Arba had three sons whose descendants were physically larger than the average man. Some of them were kings. Some of them the kings of the area used for bodyguards. There were remnants of them left in David’s day. Goliath was a descendant of Anak who David beheaded, so much for the sons of Anak being gods! But it is not likely I will ever encounter a man that sleeps in a bed 13 feet long and 6 feet wide standing in the way of the things God has promised to me, so who are the giants we face today?


If you look up the word giant in the Hebrew it becomes very relevant to our day, in fact any day. The Hebrew word for giant is nephiyl (nef-eel) and encompasses more than a physically large man. It means a bully or a tyrant. You will not get through this life without having to deal with a tyrant, unless you are the tyrant. Anyone in a place of authority has the power to be a tyrant. I did not say everyone in a place of authority is a tyrant. Listen carefully. I only said anyone that has authority is capable of being a tyrant regardless of how physically large and strong or small and weak they are. It depends on how they choose to administer or if they even know how to administer the authority they possess.
The Lord established authorities that they might edify his people. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this world with a little authority who don’t understand why God established authority. The tyrants who bully us and hinder us from obtaining what God has promised us can be anyone we must submit to. Instead of edifying us they use their authority to discourage us and tear us down. The tyrant making your life a misery could be your parents, husband, employer or even your pastor. They are wise in their own eyes and have no concept of how much pain they create in the lives of those who must submit to them. If you are suffering under an authority that is abusing you, God has promised the abusers will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. The ten rulers who saw giants in the land were giants in the church who used their God given authority to discourage a nation from going forward and then encouraged them to rebel against their God.


After the infamous grasshopper meeting broke up the rulers went home and their words spread throughout the camp like an airborne virus. God spent the night listening to his people weep over a lie for,

Numbers 14:1
14:1 That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.

And what were they saying in-between the sobs?

Deuteronomy 1:27-28
27 You grumbled in your tents and said, “The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. 28 Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.'”

The rulers abused their God given authority and now the church believes God hates them and they are afraid to go forward. I doubt Moses went to bed eager to resume the business meeting in the morning. He had to deal with men who think they are as wise as God!


The next day the rulers assembled and Moses desperately tried to encourage a discouraged church.

Deuteronomy 1:29-33
29 Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. [Anak’s sons] 30 The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31 and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” 32 In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, 33 who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.

From the day God arrived in Egypt he cared for the children of Jacob like accepted beloved children but God’s children didn’t believe the Lord their God loved them. They wept through the night crying the Lord hates us. They didn’t believe God would continue to treat them like children because their rulers were wise in their own eyes and the wisdom of man discouraged the church. God said go forward. The rulers said we can’t. Everyone else was caught in the frustrating middle. At this point the frustrated middle had a decision to make. They can rally behind Joshua and Caleb or they can rally behind abusive tyrants who don’t believe God loves them.

Numbers 14:2-4
2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

After crying all night that the Lord hates us, the rulers concluded that God brought them into the wilderness to destroy them. They were sure if they obeyed God they would be killed and their wives and children would be defenseless. Therefore it would be better to have died in Egypt or in the wilderness than to let disaster fall upon the women and children. I can’t help but wonder if the rulers were truly concerned about the women and children or simply hiding behind a woman’s skirt because they did not have the courage to believe God would keep his word.
The leaven of the rulers leavened the whole lump because “all the Israelites”, “the whole assembly,” agreed with them. If “all” and “the whole” would have stood with Joshua and Caleb, the men of faith would have prevailed. Joshua and Caleb are rulers too but they are limited by what the “all” and “the whole” do!

Based on the information the ten rulers believed, God hates me, God wants me dead and God does not care about the women and children, the logical conclusion and most reasonable solution would be to choose a new leader and return to Egypt. That would be far better than letting their children become slaves and their women raped when God allowed all the men to be killed.

If everything they believed and spoke about God was true the ruler’s solution was the best course of action. But their solution was based on lies. God did not hate them. He loved them. God never wanted to kill them. He was trying to give them a better life. God did not let disaster fall upon their families in Egypt nor did God allow the men to abandon the women and children in Egypt, so why did they think God would abandon the women and children now. The ruler’s solution to the problem only made things worse. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what caused the problem.

So . . . how do you solve your problems? Do you go to God and tell him why there is a problem and what needs to be done to fix it. Do you arrive at your own solutions without even asking the Lord for his wisdom because you think you already know what God should do? Or maybe you don’t even consult the Lord at all because you think he hates you. Are you a grasshopper wise in your own eyes?

God and Anak were not the problem that stagnated the church in a desert for forty years. It was the unbelief, division and lack of love in the church’s leadership who discouraged the hearts of God’s people until they rebelled and wanted new leadership.

Numbers 14:5-10
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. 6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 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.” 10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them…

Joshua and Caleb declared, “If the Lord is pleased with us.” We talked about whom we should strive to please in the last chapter. The only way we will be able to please the Lord is to ask and keep asking for spiritual wisdom and understanding until we can discern the will of God and walk worthy of the Lord as Joshua and Caleb did. If you don’t seek God for spiritual wisdom and understanding you may end up with a plan like the ten rulers; kill them and return to Egypt! That’ll really solve their problem. Destroy the only people in the church who believe in God and return to the place they were crying in misery.

Why do the members of the church in the wilderness want to kill their brothers in the Lord? What sin did Joshua and Caleb commit that they deserve to be stoned. Should they die because they agree with God that the land is good? Should they die because they said the Lord would give us the land if we don’t rebel? Should they die because they tried to encourage the church, pleading with them not to be afraid? Should they die because they said the Lord is with us? Why did the assembly desire to stone Joshua and Caleb and replace Moses and Aaron?


1 John 3:10-13
10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. 11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.

Cain is identified as the world. Cain believes in God. Cain goes to church and he even brings offerings to the Lord. The world is the people among us who worship God like Cain and the ten rulers did. They are wise in their own eyes and will kill anyone who says they are wrong. The world goes to church every Sunday but doesn’t believe God loves them and will keep his word to them. The church in the wilderness was full of the world.

Righteous works are words and actions that prove you believe God loves you and will do what he has promised. The works of two rulers, Joshua and Caleb, exposed the evil in the heart of their fellow rulers. The light was shining and now God’s people must choose. They could repent of the evil that was in their hearts and receive the light that was shining in Joshua and Caleb. Or they can be a murderer like their father the devil who was a murderer from the beginning. God can deliver you but only you can give him your heart. Cain did not have to kill Abel. All he had to do was change his ways and he would have been acceptable to God. Is it really easier to put out the light than deal with the things in your life that are unacceptable to God? The ten rulers did not have to kill the men of faith. All they had to do was repent for saying God hates us and stop accusing God of trying to kill them. All they had to do was repent by changing their mind about God.

The New Testament speaks openly and plainly that tares grow among wheat. Children whose hearts belong to the devil worship with children whose hearts belong to God. They look just like us. They act just like us. They don’t talk just like us because from their mouth flows good and evil. They discourage us from following God with our whole heart. They say they love God but don’t believe God loves them. They say they love God but hate you when you believe in God. Let me remind you that all of the members of this congregation had the same miraculous story of deliverance. All of them were shaded by God’s cloud during the day and warmed by his fire at night. All of them passed through the sea that parted. Everyone ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink.

Our deliverance from whatever God has delivered us from means nothing if we hate our brothers and the light that shines in them. All of our Bible reading, church attendance and praying mean nothing if we hate brothers who believe God will keep his word. All of the spiritual things we do mean nothing if we never learn to love.

Why do the people God delivered from Egypt want to kill Caleb and Joshua and choose a new leader? They were not rejecting Moses. It wasn’t Moses who led them into the wilderness. Whatever wilderness you are in today God led you there and you will stay there until you are no longer wise in your own eyes and you learn to love the light that exposes the sin in you. The truth about yourself is the hardest thing you will ever face, but you will never be free until you are willing to accept that truth. You will forever be making plans based on lies, and your plans will always make things worse. There is evil in all of us but God knew that when he saved us. He loved us before we loved him. When a righteous brother’s life exposes the evil in us we don’t have to hate them. All we have to do is change our ways. If we don’t change our ways, we may end up like Cain – driven from God’s presence wandering through life until we master our sin. Cain survived to wander. The ten rulers perished. Those who teach others about God are judged more strictly.

Numbers 14:35-38 KJV
35 I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die. 36 And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, 37 Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD. 38 But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.

The Lord called the church in the wilderness an evil congregation. Their rulers discourage the hearts of God’s people. Their rulers are the reason the church cannot go forward. The only thing that saved two of the rulers who lead God’s people astray was not their silence but their spoken faith in God. In the face of unbelief and lies, they stood up to confess the truth.

Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Romans 10:8-10
9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Jesus was the spiritual rock they ate and drank from in the wilderness. Ten rulers declared Anak is Lord and our Lord Jesus cannot overcome Anak. Two rulers cried lies, Jesus is Lord, we are well able to overcome Anak. Joshua and Caleb believed in their heart and were justified by their faith when they made a good confession. When Joshua and Caleb declared their faith in God the tares growing among the wheat wanted to kill them but God appeared to save Joshua and Caleb from death. Only two men will cross the Jordan to inherit what the law promised them before they die. But all hope was not lost for those who believed a bad confession. There are greater and better promises than the things a covenant of the law gave them.


From the time of Israel’s rebellion at Hazeroth until they reached the border of Canaan God gave his people no rest. They moved nineteen times in nineteen days before they settled in Kadesh Barnea, which I will refer to as Kadesh. By the time they reached Kadesh everybody was too exhausted to contemplate any more thoughts of conspiracy!

The time had come to possess the land God promised them in the covenant of law. If the people had strived to please God instead of man when they reached the border it might not have taken forty years to make an eleven-day journey. Moses was a good and faithful steward over God’s house, but he was just a man and not above the weaknesses and frailties of mortal men.

Deuteronomy 1:22-23 KJV

22 And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come. 23 And the saying pleased me well: ….

 Who was pleased? “Me” was pleased meaning Moses! What about God?

 Colossians 1:9-10

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way:…

 There was a specific reason Paul prayed the Colossians would understand the will of God with spiritual wisdom and understanding. It gives us the ability to live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way. If your Christian experience has become a desert wasteland you may want to evaluate whom your life pleases.

Why did the church in the desert need to search out the land so they could decide the best course of action to possess it when God already had a plan? If the people were striving to please God, why do they think they could do his job better than he can? From the time they left Egypt, God went before them to search out a resting place for them.[1] But when the time came for them to possess the land, the church decided to take it from here and Moses was pleased.

Why was Moses of all people pleased that they want to make their own plan for conquering the land? What happened to Moses? God didn’t need a man’s plan to deliver them from Egypt? I think I know what happened to Moses. At Hazeroth God himself was angry with Moses elder brother and sister for daring to speak a word against faithful Moses. Then Moses saved the day by interceding on their behalf. But only the Lord can be a humble savior because there is no one like him. It is extremely difficult to walk in such a high place of authority with such great favor from a living God without getting a little full of yourself. By the time the church reached Kadesh Moses was strutting around thinking his pleasure was God’s pleasure as well. The people pleased the steward God appointed to watch over them but did they please God.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians,

Galatians 1:10

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

 The “men” Paul referred to in this scripture were the stewards God appointed to watch over his church. Among them the great Apostle Peter! If Paul was concerned about pleasing men do you think he would have publicly rebuked Peter for refusing to eat with the Gentile Christians when Jewish Christians from Jerusalem visited the Antioch church? Can you imagine the shock! Think about whom Paul rebuked and rebuked publicly at that. Peter was one of the original twelve who Jesus called a rock and promised to give the keys of the kingdom. Peter was one of the inner three who saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain when he spoke to Moses and Elijah. Peter was one of three men reputed to be the pillars of the church.

Who did Paul think he was? Was he a rebellious Christian who refused to submit to authority! Or was he an honest Christian who refused to condone what is wrong simply because a man of great honor and authority participated in it. As far as career moves go Paul blundered when he called the great Apostle Peter a hypocrite. Or did he?

 God saw fit to leave us two letters from Peter for our edification. In one of Peter’s letters, written seventeen years after the rebuke, Paul is honored by Peter who called him our beloved brother. Yes, the same beloved brother who had called Peter a hypocrite. Peter affectionately wrote that Paul speaks with wisdom hard to understand which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction.

 I doubt Peter was very happy when Paul nailed him for his hypocrisy. It may have taken Peter years to truly forgive Paul but it did not destroy the respect and love Peter held for Paul. Peter knew Paul was right. Of all the Christians present that day, there was only one man who loved Peter enough to confront him about sin in his life. Paul lived his life to please God. He knew that pleasing a steward over God’s flock does not mean God is pleased.

Am I saying we should not support people in ministry? YES! We should support what is right because people in ministry don’t always do the right thing. If you think you should support a minister no matter what they do, right or wrong, you are not free to serve God; you are the slave of a steward. When you support a minister who you know is doing wrong, you will become a partaker in his evil deeds and his just rewards. Pharaoh’s servants died in the Red Sea with Pharaoh because they knew he was doing wrong. They said to Pharaoh “this is the finger of God” yet they never stopped supporting Pharaoh as he continually resisted the will of God. If they had withdrawn their support from Pharaoh, they might have saved his life instead of perishing with him.

Don’t take what I’m saying to an ungodly extreme. Most ministers are wonderful men and women doing their best to obey God. They should be held highly in love for their works sake. If you are going to rebuke a minister be sure you know what you are talking about. Paul was an expert in the law before he accepted Christ. His understanding of law gave him additional insight a fisherman like Peter lacked.

I am not teaching you to ignore your pastor’s counsel and directions. I am telling you that exalting one gifted minister head and shoulders above the rest of us as though they could do not wrong is wrong. We should always stand before God as equals. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. When we don’t have the same care one for another it inhibits us from receiving the things we need. God is not limited to using one gifted minister. The person sitting next to us on the pew possesses gifts and insight we need to. If God is building a church every member will have the same care one for another.[2] Peter received a scathing rebuke from Paul because Peter did not have the same care for the Gentile Christians that he had for the Jewish Christians.

The church in the wilderness pleased Moses but did they please God? The Bible reveals that they consulted God and God allowed them to have their way but everything went downhill from that point on. The man Israel pleased planted the seed of rebellion that ended in no one entering the Promised Land for forty years. Within those forty years Moses rebelled and suffered the same fate. 

Numbers 13:1-2 KJV

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel; of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them. 

 God had one requirement. When Israel searched out the land; the spies would consist of one ruler from each tribe. Among the twelve rulers was Caleb from the tribe of Judah and Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim. This is important to understand and remember. The spies are the leadership of the church in the desert.

With God’s approval Moses sent twelve rulers to spy out the land of Canaan but before they left Moses planted doubt in their hearts.

 Numbers 13:17-19

17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad?

 Whoa! Good or bad? Moses! What are you doing? How could the land be bad? That’s not what God said. When he appeared to Moses in the burning bush the Lord said,

 Exodus 3:8

8 I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a GOOD and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…

 Moses questioned God’s integrity when he told the rulers to find out if the land is good or bad. God never said or even implied that he was bringing them to a land that may be good or bad, we’ll need to check it out when we get there. God had already checked out the land and declared the land was good.

Moses words left an impression that God may not have told us the truth. Then Moses ended his comments to the rulers saying be of good courage. But how can they be of good courage when they are not really sure God tells the truth? The only men who come back of good courage were those who could see past Moses humanity to the God who called him. The only ones who survived the desert were two men who saw good in God in spite of what came out of the pulpit that day.

The failures of those in leadership glorify God and teach us who our God really is. As we submit to those he has delegated authority to in this world it teaches us obedience to God. Bear in mind that the things that happened to Israel in the desert were written for our learning. Moses was striving to obey God to the best of his ability but everything Moses did and everything Moses said was not the RIGHT thing to do and say. I wonder if anyone questioned why Moses told them the Lord would bring them to a good land but now they have to see of the land is good or bad.

 After the church pleased Moses he is questioned whether or not God told them the truth. He not only questioned God’s honesty but also provoked others to question God’s honesty. Moses was pleased and he had God’s permission to fulfill the desire of the people but he did a BAD thing. He planted doubt in the hearts of twelve rulers who desperately needed FAITH IN GOD’S WORD. They needed faith that God is good can be trusted. They were entering a land of giants greater in power and might than they were but not greater than their God. If Moses really wanted to encourage them, he should have said, “When you spy out the land, you will see a GOOD land because a GOOD God told me he is bringing us to a GOOD land. 

Words matter!

Words are important!

There has been a lot of teaching on confession in recent years. The basic principle is correct. Confession brings possession. The application currently taught by many is corrupt. We have been taught to pick whatever we want and confess it into existence. If you confess what God has said, in due time (you may have to wait until resurrection day) you will possess it. Your confession of something that God has not said first is vain. Neither can you take a promise God spoke to someone else and apply it to your own life unless God made that promise applicable to everyone.

With the exception of two men, Moses and the church let their worship of God slip. For if they were worshipping God, they never would have questioned whether the land was good or bad after God already said the land is good. Our clapping, shouting, singing, and praying means nothing if we doubt Gods integrity.

James 1:25-26

25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it– he will be blessed in what he does. 26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

 The church would not be blessed because somebody forgot “what he has heard.” The church would not be blessed because the man they sought to please did not “keep a tight rein on his tongue.” Moses spoke a bad confession and made religion worthless for all but the two men who could see beyond the steward who led them.

Twelve rulers went up to search out the land. Ten of them had the thought in their mind that the land could be good or bad. They traveled from Kadesh at the southernmost edge of the Desert of Zin to Rehob at the northernmost edge and back, a round trip of about 500 miles – an average of 12.5 miles a day. On the way back they picked up a cluster of grapes so large it had to be carried on a staff between two of the rulers. The fruit they returned with bore evidence that the land was good.

Two of the rulers returned with good news. Ten of the rulers had good news and bad news. The good news; God told them the truth. The fruit they brought back proved it. The land is good. If only the report had ended with those words. If only Caleb had spoken next and everyone agreed. If only ten rulers would have remembered what God did in Egypt? If only men sought to please God more than God’s stewards? If only we could see past the human leadership God uses?  If only! If only! If only! What would have happened if only? We will never know what might have happened, but we can learn valuable lessons from what did happen.

The good news was followed by the bad news.

 Numbers 13:28-29 KJV

28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.

 Nevertheless is another way of saying God told the truth BUT! What follows was nothing new. The people “be strong.” So were the people of Egypt. The cities are large and well fortified. So were the cities of Egypt. The children of Anak are there. Who is this Anak and is Anak greater than their God?  The Amalekites dwell in the land! Why did that matter? The Amalekites had already been defeated by Israel at Rephidim.

 Exodus 17:14

14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua; for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.

 Take note! The destruction of Amalek by the hand of Joshua was a promise written in a book!

 The presence of Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites and Canaanites was not new and unexpected either. Before they searched out the land God said,

 Exodus 23:23 KJV

… mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.

 Before they got to the border of the Promised Land, God promised to cut off the inhabitants of the land. Before they got to the border of the Promised Land, God proved he could do it in Egypt. Before they got to the border of the Promised Land, God told them,

 Exodus 23:27-28 KJV

27 I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. 28 And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.

 Exodus 24:3-4 KJV

3          And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do. 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD,…

 Take note!  The promises to deal with every problem the rulers saw when they spied out the land were written in a book. God promised to deal with the bad things in the land before they ever saw it with their eyes. God made promises in writing to destroy all of the people the twelve rulers encounter on their forty day journey to spy out the land, which makes their reaction to Caleb’s declaration of faith in God unjustifiable.

 Numbers 13:30

And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.

 How did Caleb know they were “well able to overcome it”?  What gave Caleb the right to make that declaration and expect anyone to believe it?

 Caleb had the right to say they were well able to overcome it because Caleb had more than his own ideas and desires to depend on. Caleb had more than his own experiences of the past in Egypt. Caleb had more than somebody said somebody said God would do it? Caleb had more than Moses testimony God would do it. Caleb had a reason to have faith because God wrote a copy of the things he said to Moses in stone. Caleb had written promises about the future from the flesh, Moses, and the Spirit, God. Caleb had a written promise confirmed by two witnesses that the people would be afraid of them. Caleb had a written promise that the people would turn their backs and run from them.

The ten rulers that spoke next had the same written promise.

 Numbers 13:31

But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.

 Now we know who trusted God’s ability and who trusted their own ability. Now we know who believed the word of God and who didn’t. Ten rulers called God a liar. They had God’s promises in writing and don’t believe it. They had already defeated Amalek with God’s help. But all they can say at Caleb’s declaration of faith in the written word of God is; it can’t be done. Why not? It was done in Egypt without them lifting one finger. Why can’t it be done in Canaan?

The rulers couldn’t see how it could be done because the people they saw were “stronger than we.”  When they tried to devise a plan to conquer people who were stronger than they were, they came to the only logical conclusion; “we be not able.” Their conclusion was accurate until you factor in that there was a God among them who had a plan before they sought to please a man. If the church had sought to please God, they would have waited for God to reveal his plan.

The church in the desert is not the only church to possess God’s promises in writing. There is not a Christian in America who does not have a Bible or access to one, some of us more than one in a variety of translations. How many of us act the same way Israel did. We have a written promise from God that no matter what happens God will be faithful to bring us through it, and we will be victorious in the end. Yet we fear to go forward because our problems are stronger than we are.

It is true that the problems we face in life are stronger than we are but are they stronger than our God. God proved to the church he could deal with their problems in Egypt. Then he promised to deal with their future problems in writing. The church knew God was coming for them one day because Joseph made them swear an oath to take his bones when they left. They never forgot Joseph’s oath because the church took Joseph’s bones with them when they departed. They were at the threshold of obtaining the Promised Land only to say we be not able. How many of us have been delivered out of difficult even impossible situations only to sit on a pew and repeat Israel’s error because we remember and cling to the words of great men but we do not remember and cling to the words of our great God!

[1] Numbers 10:33

[2] 1 Corinthians 12:25


After Israel buried the people who became a burden at Kibroth, they traveled to Hazeroth and set up camp. Everything was fine until those closest to Moses began to complain!

 Numbers 12:1KJV

1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.

 If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Moses wanted to die at Kibroth. God made life bearable again. Everything was fine until they reached Hazeroth and his siblings challenged his authority. What provoked Miriam and Aaron to complain about their brother?

When Moses complained that he could not bear the burden of the people alone, Miriam finally realized that Moses would never have a place for her. His insensitivity to her gift and calling was part of the reason she led a rebellion against him.

 Micah 6:4 NIV

I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.

 God gave the nation Moses, Aaron AND MIRIAM to lead them. He never intended for Moses to bear the burden of the people alone. Aaron and Miriam had the same call to lead that Moses did and no doubt could not understand why Moses would not acknowledge them.

Since Aaron was a weak leader there is no doubt in my mind that Miriam led the conspiracy and Aaron followed her. God dealt with her much more severely than Aaron but not for being the ringleader. Leading the rebellion was only a symptom of festering wounds she would not allow God to heal. The real sadness of this story is Miriam’s claim was true. She was a prophet called by God to lead the nation just like Moses and Aaron. It is not the blatant lies that destroy us but truth poured from hurting vessels. Her pain began when she was a child and Moses was recognized as no ordinary child.[1]

Miriam’s parents are listed in Hebrews chapter 11 as commendable examples of the faith that pleases God. Therefore, it is not surprising that all of their children were called to ministry. When there is a calling on your life, you know it; most of the time at a very early age. We don’t know exactly how old Miriam was when Moses was born. We do know that she was the eldest and old enough to understand that Moses received a lot of attention because he was no ordinary child, but so was Miriam. She bore the same calling to lead that her brothers did. 

The Jewish historian Josephus reveals that if Pharaoh’s order to throw all male newborns into the Nile was not obeyed the entire family of the baby would be destroyed as well.[2] Miriam’s parents were willing to risk death that the life of their unordinary child might be preserved and Miriam followed their example to the extreme. When mother put the infant Moses in the Nile and returned home to weep over his uncertain future, Miriam remained to watch over baby brother. She wanted to be a part of his unordinary life. But her actions risked exposing whom the baby belonged to and put her own life as well as the entire family in jeopardy of death. God worked it all out for good and Miriam became the hero that brought baby brother home to sooth mothers sorrow and be taught the faith of their fathers. There is no doubt in my mind that in Miriam’s mind Moses owed her! Her actions planted a seed of entitlement that lay dormant for many years before it blossomed into rebellion.

Miriam helped mother care for Moses until he toddled off to Pharaoh’s house to live in the lap of luxury reserved for Kings. For forty years, Miriam endured the underprivileged life of a slave while Moses was educated in the best schools of Egypt and became a general of the Egyptian army that was mighty in word and deed. Miriam endured because her payday would come! She saved Moses. One day Moses would save her.

But before Moses delivered Israel from Egypt, he delivered Egypt from the Ethiopians. While Moses led the armies of Egypt against Ethiopia, Tharbis, daughter of the King of the Ethiopians, saw Moses and fell in love.  Tharbis sent one of her most trusted servants to tell Moses how she felt about him. Upon hearing this message, Moses did something common for his day and agreed to marriage for political gain. The servant returned to Tharbis with a promise from Moses that if she helped him take possession of the city he would marry her. She kept her end of the agreement and the city fell before Moses. Moses kept his end of the agreement and consummated the marriage. He returned to Egypt with great honor and an Ethiopian wife.[3]

Miriam thought her day had come when Moses turned forty and finally understood that God had preserved him and prepared him to deliver Israel. Unfortunately, Israel rejected Moses and Miriam’s hopes of fulfilling her calling were dashed. Moses went to Midian to start a new life without his Ethiopain wife and did something else common for his day. He took a second wife, Zipporah the daughter of a priest and without doubt experienced the same despair that Miriam did.

Forty years elapsed before God appeared and renewed the faith and hope of Miriam, Aaron and Moses. At God’s command Aaron left Egypt and returned with Moses in tow to announce that the time had come for the visitation Joseph spoke of before he died. But the Bible does not give any indication that Miriam attended the meetings that took place between the elders of Israel and Moses nor is her name included in the long negotiations with Pharaoh even though God clearly said “I sent Moses, Aaron and Miriam to lead you.” Men thought little of women in those days even more so than these days. The women had no representation in their deliverance and it is highly unlikely Miriam knew what transpired between these men or how God intervened on the behalf of the oppressed woman.

Consider the first time Pharaoh gave Moses permission to leave Egypt that they might worship their God in the desert. Pharaoh had endured blood, frogs, gnats, flies, a plague, boils, and a hailstorm for the record books when Moses and Aaron stopped by to tell him that locusts would be next. Pharaoh’s officials could take no more and pleaded with Pharaoh to let Israel worship their God. Pharaoh needed the support of these officials to stay in power so he relented and,

 Exodus 10:8-10

10 Pharaoh said, “The LORD be with you–if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil. 

8 Then Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. “Go, worship the LORD your God,” he said. “But just who will be going?” 9 Moses answered, “We will go with our young and old, with our sons and daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the LORD.”

 Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron back but wanted to know exactly who would attend this festival to the Lord. Moses said everyone. That did not sit well with Pharaoh and there is a specific reason why. Moses introduced something new into the negotiations. The next statement from Pharaoh reveals that sometime between the day Moses arrived in Egypt and this meeting transpired Moses had a change of heart. Pharaoh said,

Exodus 10:11

            No! Have only the men go; and worship the Lord, since that’s what you have been asking for.”

 Do you hear what Pharaoh said! This statement from Pharaoh is very clear and very conclusive. Until this meeting, Moses had only asked Pharaoh to let the MEN go into the desert to serve the Lord. Racism is more than the black and white issue it is in America. The church is full of racist men who oppress women called to lead and then wonder why God will not let the church go forward. This is an important point that has been missed for centuries because somewhere in time the church lost the true faith of Abraham. Moses never asked Pharaoh to let them leave Egypt to start a new nation. Moses only intent was to bring the men of Israel to the mountain where God appeared to him and teach them how to worship their God again. Like Abraham before him, Moses believed in the resurrection. They could not become the nation God promised them without Jesus, the son Abraham saw afar off, the same one Moses called the prophet to come.

Moses had permission to leave with the men but what about the women! Moses sister was a prophet like him. Did she watch over him at the risk of her own life just so he could grow up and leave her in Egypt? She had a calling to serve the Lord just like he did. Do you think the women in Israel were unaware that Moses only came for the men? Do you think Miriam was unaware that Moses would have left her in Egypt? If you have ever been excluded from something that you are gifted to do over something you could not change, like your sex or the color of your skin, you know the deep the hurt Moses insensitive attitude inflicted.

But there was something important Miriam missed because she could see no farther than Moses – the important fact that God was leading them not Moses. Moses was only a steward serving God’s will. God was in charge of their deliverance. From Miriam’s perspective when the time came to leave Moses plan to take only the men suddenly and mysteriously changed. Everybody went into the desert to worship God. Moses was not thinking about Miriam but God was.

It is questionable that Miriam ever learned how Moses obtained permission to leave with the men and how God refused to let them go. Instead, God struck all of Egypt with a plague of locusts. God did not let Pharaoh and Moses dictate who would worship him.[4] If the sister’s can’t go and fulfill their calling nobody would go. We only hurt ourselves when we exclude others. Israel’s journey to worship of God was delayed while God taught valuable lessons to hardhearted men who serve him.

 Exodus 10:1-2

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them 2 that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the LORD.”

 God wanted the story of how the men had permission to leave but God would not let them leave without the women to be told to every generation that followed so we would know who is Lord.

God’s refusal to let them leave was not about the women just because they are women. Our God shows no partiality. God’s refusal to let them leave was a revelation of how God stands by and helps the oppressed. In this story, the women were the oppressed. The men don’t want the women to go into the desert with them. It was God and God alone who intervened on woman’s behalf. If the women had been in places of power and desired to have church without the men, God would have intervened on behalf of the men.

Unfortunately making oppressors do the right thing is easier than changing their oppressive attitudes. Miriam found herself in the desert with the men, but she is still treated arrogantly because they are now equal but separate.

When Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land and realized how God had delivered them from their Egyptian oppressors,

 Exodus 15:1

15:1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:

 The Hebrew word translated Israelites in this passage is ben, which means a son; Moses and the sons sang to the Lord. While ben can mean both son’s and daughters and it is certainly possible the men and women were singing this song, I can’t help but wonder about the event that followed. After the men lead a song of praise to the Lord, Miriam picked up a tambourine to lead worship but only the women followed her with tambourines and dancing. This story has been used to justify that women can lead but they should only lead women. Does that also mean only women should dance? Does that also mean only women should worship God with all of their spirit, soul and body.

On the day, only the women followed Miriam dancing became a “woman thing.” Men don’t dance. Men worship with all their spirit and soul but not their bodies. Moses separate but equal attitude bound men for hundreds of years from worshipping God freely with all of their might spirit, soul and body. Why didn’t Moses pick up a tambourine and dance with Miriam? The men followed Moses lead to their own detriment. Until the day, a man after God’s own heart danced before the Lord.

After King David tried to bring the ark of God into the city, or we could say the presence of God into the city, and it resulted in death, the Bible says David was angry. Where there is anger there is pride. But David didn’t give up his quest to bring the presence of God into the city. He knew that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. The second time he sought to bring the presence of God into the city he humbled himself by dance with the women.

David humbled himself when he broke the taboo in Israel that men don’t dance because that is a woman thing. By his actions a King said we will be equal but separate no more and a woman looked out the window and despised him for it. David tore down the wall Moses erected between men and women at the Red Sea and a woman criticized him because the women followed Miriam’s lead just like the men followed Moses.

When Moses stood up to lead worship at the Red Sea, he sang this song to the Lord “I will sing to the Lord for he is highly exalted.” When Miriam stood up to lead worship she sang to Israel: “Sing to the Lord for he is highly exalted.” [5] Moses was singing to the Lord. Miriam was singing to the crowd and telling them what to do. Hundreds of year’s later women were still telling men how to worship the Lord because David’s wife rebuked him for dancing. Miriam’s worship at the Red Sea was an effort to validate herself and her place in the church because she was deeply hurt when Moses excluded her. She was so hurt that she never recognized what God did for her. Her eyes were on Moses instead of God and that only served to multiply her pain.

While they were at Rephidim and Moses father in law saw Moses had too much to do he suggested a reasonable plan. Moses followed his advice and appointed rulers over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. But out of all the more than 100,000 thousand appointed rulers Moses only choose men.[6] His actions stuck a knife in Miriam’s wounded bleeding heart.

Finally, they came to Kibroth and Miriam heard Moses complaining that he can’t lead all these people alone. To make matters even worse God told him to pick seventy leaders to institute a new form of government that would bear the same spirit of leadership Moses possessed.[7] What about Miriam, she had the same spirit of leadership Moses possessed. Now not only are the men against her. It appeared God was against her as well.

God was never against Miriam, but he does give grace to the humble and resist the proud. Moses was not the only one with racism in his heart. Before Israel set up camp at Hazeroth people died at Kibroth because the “mixt multitude” or the foreigners that lived among them “fell a lusting”[8] which stirred up the children of Israel to weep instead of worship and ended in the death of many. In the minds of the Israelites, they died because the foreigners enticed them to be discontent with the things God had given them.

By the time Israel settled at Hazeroth, Miriam considered Moses an inept leader and was ready to be rid of him. Aaron’s agreement emboldened Miriam to openly rebel.  Miriam and Aaron complained about the Ethiopian woman, a foreigner, part of the mixt multitude that left Egypt with them, that Moses had married. If the nation got rid of Moses, they would also be rid of the favor his foreign wife gave all foreigners in Israel. This wasn’t a new wife they were complaining about. Moses married that Ethiopian woman before he gave up Egypt to follow the Lord. He was bound to her by the oath he swore to marry her if she helped him conquer a city. Moses was simply a man ahead of his time living the Christian life the way the Apostle Paul told us to live.

If you get saved, and an unbelieving spouse wants to leave, let your spouse, but if your spouse is content to stay let him or her stay. We don’t know if the Ethiopian woman accompanied Moses to Midian. If she didn’t their relationship was renewed when Moses returned to Egypt to deliver Israel. Whatever the circumstances, she had been married to Moses for a long time when Miriam complained about her. I don’t know if the Ethiopian woman was a believer or not, but she was obviously content to stay married to Moses.

Miriam’s rebellion had nothing to do with the Ethiopian woman and everything to do with Miriam’s arrogance that Moses owed her and he didn’t pay up. Moses didn’t know he owed her; in fact he didn’t owe her anything. Miriam didn’t save him when he was a baby. God did! Moses did not call her to ministry. God did. She kept getting hurt by Moses because she wanted Moses to give her a place and recognition instead of trusting God. While Moses was singing to the Lord, she was singing to the crowds trying to obtain the recognition only God can give. Miriam lacked something Moses possessed.

 Numbers 12:3

3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)

 Speaking of the holy women of old Peter tells us,

 1 Peter 3:3-5 KJV

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves,…

 Women who trust in God adorn themselves with meek and quiet spirits. Miriam was a holy woman from the old time who had stopped trusting God. She knew she was a prophet and called to lead just like her brother Moses, yet we find her leading a rebellion against not only her brother in the Lord but her own flesh and blood brother. She does not possess the meek and quiet spirit that “is in the sight of God of great price.”

Why didn’t she take her sorrow to God and trust him to vindicate her and exalt her in ministry. Why was she looking to Moses for righteousness when all man’s righteousness is as filthy rags compared to Gods? The whole idea of separate but equal is a filthy rag. If she believed her God was righteous, she never would have sought to exalt herself.

Have some mercy for Miriam. She walked in a difficult frustrating place. Miriam had grown weary of waiting for God to straighten out the hardhearted men who preach a gospel of love but have no love for her. Once she had Aaron’s support, she seized an opportunity to turn the hearts of the nation to follow her. In her quest for equality with the men who oppressed her, she made a fatal error. The hurt in her heart blinded her eyes to the truth, God had changed Moses heart but God could not exalt her because she would not let the Lord heal her wounded heart so she could forgive Moses. All her plan did was anger the only one who cared about her when she stopped trusting God to make the injustices committed in his house right.

 When the Lord heard what Miriam and Aaron were saying,

 Numbers 12:4-5

… the Lord spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.  And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam and they both came forth.

 It is not clear whether they knew why they were being called to the tabernacle. Neither do we know if Moses knew until after the fact what Miriam and Aaron were saying about him because God acted on his own initiative. If Miriam was thinking God finally realized her potential and was going to remove Moses, she was in for a shock.

 Numbers 12:6-8

And he said, Hear now my words; If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold; wherefore then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

 “My servant,” Miriam not your servant, Moses had been faithful to God but she had not. No matter how much the people abused Moses and made his life a misery, he never accepted God’s offer to kill them all and start over. Why was Miriam trying to get rid of Moses? Yes! He would have left her behind. Yes, he never thought about her or included her in leadership meetings. But once they were in the desert he never took advantage of an opportunity to get rid of her. 

Moses was more than a prophet. Moses was faithful to the people God sent him to lead. His faithfulness was not the kind of faithfulness some teach today, like faithfulness to church attendance, tithing and praying. Those are good things, yet there are people who teach such things that would throw you away, even drive you away when you don’t measure up to their standards. They love the institution of the church and their careers in the church but not the people for whom God created the church.

Our brother’s and sister’s lack of love for one another can be a heavy burden, but if we really acted like Christ, we would never sit quietly by when God is angry enough to destroy them. We would not seize an opportunity to be rid of them. We would not start or join a conspiracy to drive them from their God given place. We would bear their burden as Christ has borne ours. We would be faithful to one another.

 1 Corinthians1:9-13 KJV

God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them, which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

 Miriam’s quest to replace Moses created the same kind of division they had at the spiritually immature Corinthian church. You can be sure that some were for Moses, some for Aaron, some for Miriam and some for the Lord. God was not about to tolerant the division over foreigners because it was the very heart of the gospel. Jesus died to do more than take away our sins. Jesus died that God might unite Jew and Gentile (foreigners) into one new man or one new nation. God is more than God of the Jews. God is God of all and faithful to all.

When God chose to deal with one family because humanity in general rejected him he never ever intended to leave anybody out. That is the mystery that is no longer a mystery. The mystery has been revealed. Paul wrote,

 Ephesians 3:3-6 KJV

3          … by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5           Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6            That the Gentiles (the foreigners) should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

 Miriam’s words drew God’s attention because if Miriam had succeeded she would have destroyed the truth of the gospel. The truth that everyone can be an heir and partake in the promises God made to Jesus through the covenant God swore with an oath to fulfill when Abraham believed God can raise the dead.

How many of us are guilty of speaking against Jesus for the foreigners he allows in his church. Prejudice is fueled by pride and runs deeper than the color of our skin. The root of prejudice is the belief that our group is superior to others in some way. It can be unchangeable things like our sex or color of skin. It can be changeable things like the way we dress, talk, or even worship. The attitude that you must be like me to be pure, holy and acceptable to God is the uncleanness that defiles making us unacceptable to God.

 Numbers 12:9-10

And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he departed. And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow; and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.

 It was not the foreigners that were unclean in God’s sight. It was Miriam. The one who sought to exalt herself that she might exclude Moses and the foreigners! As a leper Miriam would be required to put a covering over her upper lip and cry unclean, unclean.[9] Miriam used her mouth to say unclean things and now she will leave the presence of God declaring to all the camp that she is unclean. Not only must she declare she is unclean to anyone who dares come near she must dwell alone outside the camp. No longer can she use her prophetic gift and be a leader in Israel. Your mouth can get you in an awful lot of trouble.

It was her brother’s arrogance in Egypt that watered the seed for this disaster in Miriam’s life and was her brother’s humility that saved her.

 Numbers 12:11-13

And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.

 Moses acknowledged that he was part of Miriam’s problem. We sinned. Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb. Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.

If Moses had wanted her out of the way like she wanted him out of the way this was a good time to keep his mouth shut. Why didn’t he? Moses had his faults but he was faithful. Moses fought for Miriam to keep her place in the church but what Miriam did was so foul in God’s eyes even faithful Moses intercession could not completely calm the anger of God toward her.

 Number 12:14-15

And the Lord said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? Let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again. And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again.

 Miriam really rubbed God the wrong way. But why deal so severely with Miriam and not Aaron. They were both speaking against Moses.


 It is true that they both spoke against Moses but only the woman had God fight for her place in his church. When Pharaoh gave permission for the men to go worship God in the desert God refused to let the church go forward. God fought for Miriam’s place in the church and this is how she repaid him. She tried to take over and leave Moses behind. She gave her heavenly father cause to spit in her face because she forgot what he did for her in the past and stopped trusting him to make the future better. She will not be a leper because the brother that wounded her prayed for her but she will bear her shame. Leave her outside the camp for seven days God said. Once again, all Israel’s journey was delayed because their sister was not in her place. The first time it was an honor. This time it was a shame.

[1] Hebrews 11:23, Acts 7:20, NIV

[2] Works of Josephus Vol. II Book II Chapter IX page 153

[3] Works of Jospehus Vol. II Book II Chapter XI page 159-160

[4] See Deliverance, Educating Pharaoh

[5] Compare Exodus 15:1 and Exodus 15:21

[6] Exodus 18:25 KJV

[7] Numbers 11;16

[8] Numbers 11:4

[9] Leviticus 13:45-46 KJV


Numbers 11:4-6

And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic. But now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.

 Israel set up camp at Kibrothhattaavah, which I will hereafter refer to as Kibroth. Some of the Gentiles, “the mixt multitude” accompanied Israel when they left Egypt. According to Matthew Henry’s commentary the Gentiles left “expecting a land of promise, but not a state of probation in the way.” The mixt multitude heard about the day that the Hebrews God would come get them and then their God actually showed up performing great feats to free his people from the arrogance of Egypt. They thought that they were going to get rich in a land of milk and honey, but all they got was one quart of manna in a never-ending desert. When the Israelites started complaining about hardships the mixt multitude started murmuring that they were better off in Egypt and that stirred up Israel to rebel against God’s provision as well.

Israel was doing fine until the mixt multitude “fell a lusting.” In our society the word “lust” immediately brings to mind sex, but they were not lusting for sex. They lusted for fish sautéed with leeks garlic and onions rounded off with a side dish of cucumbers and melons. They were sick of the manna that the angels in heaven eat, this manna that no one else in all the earth had ever seen much less been privileged to eat. God’s provision was not good enough for them, and when they let everyone know it, a little leaven leavened the whole lump.

Numbers 11:10 KJV

Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent; and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.

 If Israel returned to Egypt, they would still remember the wonderful fish dinners and not have them. The fish in the river died and the crops were destroyed before they left Egypt.[1] Their God debased Egypt, so they could be free from the slavery of arrogant men who denied them freedom of religion. Pharaoh used fish dinners to manipulate them and keep them under his control; that may be one reason God took the fish dinners away. God does not manipulate people by giving them whatever they want just so they will do what he wants. Neither Pharaoh nor the things they remember are an option any more and Egypt will never be the way they remembered it again.

Why were God’s people longing for things that don’t exist when they should be longing for things that are yet to exist? If you look back, you won’t be fit to go forward! Not all that long ago the people stood in the door of their tents to worship.[2] Now they were standing in the door of their tents to weep. Remembering turned their worshipping into weeping!

Unfortunately Israel is not weeping over reality. They are wept over a memory of food and a way of life that no longer existed. All of the great people of faith listed in Hebrews chapter 11 were controlled by a memory of things that did not exist as well. They lived their life remembering promises that they died in faith without receiving. Nevertheless, they saw the promises being fulfilled afar off and being persuaded the promises would come to pass, they embraced them and chose to be strangers on the earth. If the people of faith listed in Hebrews chapter 11 had been mindful of the land God brought them out of, like the mixt multitude were, they also would have found reasons to return. [3]

When you consider what the people were weeping about it’s easy to understand why the Lord was angry and Moses was not any happier than the Lord! Not only were the people complaining Moses began to complain.

 Numbers 11:11-15

11        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? 12 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? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now– if I have found favor in your eyes– and do not let me face my own ruin.”

 When people look to flesh and blood to give them what they need in life instead of to the God whom Jesus said is a Spirit;[4] they become a burden too heavy for flesh and blood stewards to bear. The people wept in the door of their tents because they thought they were better off in Egypt. If that was true God would have left them in Egypt. They are weeping and distraught over a lie. How could Moses, a man of flesh and blood, solve their problem? The answer is simple. He couldn’t! 

God’s ministers cannot do anymore than you can unless God empowers them by manifesting one or more of the gifts of the Spirit, whichever one you may need. They will cry out to the same God you can and all it will do is make God jealous that you went to flesh and blood for the answer instead of to him. When you have a problem the first thing you should do is get in your prayer closet and cry out to your Spiritual Father whose foolishness is wiser than the greatest wisdom of any flesh and blood. Let your Father send one of his flesh and blood ministers to help you. The unrealistic expectation of the people that a man they can see with their eyes is able to meet their every need was crushing their Pastor. The people became such a heavy burden Moses asked God to put him to death.

 Jesus told us how to deal with burdens.  It’s very simple to do!

 Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 When Moses did what Jesus instructed us to do God intervened. The burdened received a lighter burden to bear but it did not stop there. Those who created the burden were dealt with as well! First God lighten the burden that the people had become to Moses.

 Numbers 11:16-17 NIV

The LORD said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you.  17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.

 Take note that God did not remove the heavy burden people can be. Changing people takes a long time, indeed for most of us a lifetime. It can’t be done with an incantation and the wave of a hand. In addition, we are commanded to bear one another’s burdens but God does not expect us to bear everyone’s burden alone. God lightened the load on Moses by multiplying Moses. He gave the same ability Moses possessed through the Spirit of God to elders Moses knew had leadership ability.

My heart bleeds with sympathy for people in leadership positions like Moses who are worn out, weary and burdened beyond their ability to endure. God did not place a heavy burden upon them. They picked up the burden and refuse to release it because they lack knowledge of God’s ways. They are burden lifters who suppress the talents of those God placed in their life to help them. All they have to do is ask and the Lord would lighten the burden but he can’t do that until the burden lifters are willing to receive help. Unfortunately, most people won’t receive from God until they get to the end of themselves. Our own sense of self-importance prohibits us from allowing others to stand by our side as an equal and help us lift. This kind of attitude in ministry creates rebellion and suffering under heavy burdens until people are burnt out or worse shipwreck their ministries.

The real wonder of Moses complaint is why Moses was so burdened that he wanted to die when he had already implemented a plan to solve this problem shortly after they entered the desert.[5] It was a good plan, but it wasn’t God’s plan because it was rift with the selfish arrogance of man.

Shortly after they crossed the Red Sea, Jethro brought Moses his wife and children, which had no doubt been sent home when things became difficult in Egypt. Before Moses father-in-law returned to Midian, he observed a non-stop flow of people in and out of Moses tent from morning to evening seeking advice and counsel regarding the things of God. Concerned for his son-in-law, Jethro offered some good advice; distribute the work so only the difficult cases are brought to Moses and others can handle the menial things. The purpose of implementing this plan was to make it

 Exodus 18:22-23 KJV

…easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure,…

 Jethro said if “God command thee so” but it is questionable that Moses ever consulted God. The Bible plainly tells us who he listened to,

 Exodus 18:24

Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.

 Moses listened to flesh and blood and did everything the wisdom of man said to do. Paul calls it walking in the flesh. The flesh has good advice that sounds so right but it’s never as good as God’s! 

The words “the burden” that Jethro used may be in italics in your Bible because they are not in the original manuscripts. Jethro said to Moses, “they shall bear with thee.” “Shall bear” is the Hebrew word nasa and it means to lift. Basically, he told Moses that you need people to help you lift the load. But all Jethro’s advice did was put the heavy mud on Moses back and gave everyone else light straw just like Pharaoh did when he made the Hebrews carry mud and the Egyptians carry straw. God does not govern like Pharaoh does. Jethro’s solution to the problem did not work because a year later Moses could no longer endure and cried out to God using the same Hebrew word, nasa, that Jethro used, three times in his complaint. Moses said,

 Numbers 11:12,14

12 Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, (Nasa/Carry them) in thy bosom, as a nursing father (Nasa/beareth) the sucking child,… 14 I am not able to (Nasa/ bear) all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.

 Alone Moses! What about the rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties and rulers of tens that you appointed to nasa with you.[6] If there is a ruler for every ten people and there are one million people, (some commentators say two million but we’ll work with one million), there are presently at minimum one hundred thousand rulers helping Moses nasa.  If God was even consulted, he knew Jethro’s plan would not work, but he could not implement a plan that would work until the one he had appointed to lead comes to the end of his own self-importance. Did Moses really think he was the only one that could handle a difficult problem? Did Moses really think God wanted all the heavy mud on his back? If he did, he was wrong! If Jethro’s plan worked why did Moses cry the load is too heavy? You will labor alone until you are willing to receive people with the same gifts and talents you possess and allow them to work by your side.

Moses gladly implemented Jethro’s plan because those enlisted to help him were not his equals in ability. They dealt with the menial stuff Moses did not want to deal with. They did not possess the same Spirit of leadership God had given to Moses. Therefore, he did not feel threaten about implementing Jethro’s advice. Not until Moses was so burdened that the he would rather die than go on did he see the wisdom of equality and was willing to allow others that bore the same gifts he did to have authority in the church.

When you don’t have to be a one-man show anymore making heavy burdens light is easy for God to do. When Moses finally realized that Jethro had good advice but not the solution to the problem, God said no problem. God told Moses choose seventy men that you know and bring them to the tent of meeting. God gave them the same anointing and authority Moses possessed. If one of them thought Moses could be replaced because they possessed the same gift Moses did from God’s hand, God drew the boundaries when he spoke to Moses alone in their presence. Even if it was Moses idea to give the Spirit of God that was upon him to others he could not have implemented it because we don’t control the Spirit of God. God’s plan was initiated and performed by God when Moses finally broke and came to God with his burden.

God’s first concern was for the burdened but He had not forgotten the ones who make life a burden for others.

 Numbers  11:18-20

18 “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The LORD heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month– until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it– because you have rejected the LORD who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” ‘”

 Sorry you ever became a Christian! You are a burden in the church.  Better off before you started following the Lord. You are not only a burden you are walking on dangerous ground. God’s love will never let you go. How can he let you go when there is nothing to go back to? The place you would go back to will reject you just like you are rejecting God.

Do you really think Egypt would have welcomed Israel’s return? In Egypt’s mind Israel is the reason there are no fish in the river. In Egypt’s mind Israel is the reason there will be no food in the cupboard this winter. In Egypt’s mind Israel is the reason everyone lost a firstborn son. In Egypt’s mind Israel is the reason their government is in shambles. Of course none of that was true because the real reason all those things happened in Egypt was not Israel’s fault but a stubborn Egyptian Pharaoh who would not allow people to worship a God he could not control. When God acted on behalf of people who wanted to worship him, it burned the bridge behind them. When Israel left all the trouble in Egypt stopped. Therefore, Egypt would never want them back. If the Hebrews didn’t drown crossing the river and join their beloved Pharaoh in hell, they would have found nothing but hatred when they arrived in their beloved Egypt. That beloved place never loved them anyhow. Egypt would not even let them sit at the same table and eat lunch them. If they had succeeded in returning to Egypt they would have been more miserable in Egypt than they ever were following God in a wilderness. 

 Hebrews 10:26-27

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.  

 Whoever loves the world is the enemy of God. Yes, God delivered Israel. Yes, God treated them like a friend but they did not treat God like a friend. They speak about God like he is the enemy trying to destroy them. Their love for what the world gave them, fish dinners with separate tables and mud on their back has made them the enemy of God.

 Hebrews 10:28-29

28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

 Before they left Sinai a covenant was established with God and sealed with the blood of animal sacrifices. Moses took half of the blood and sprinkled it on the altar. He read the book of the covenant and the people agreed to its terms. Then Moses took the rest of the blood and sprinkled it on the people. They are God’s people that he has purchased with blood to be his family. But some of his family became his enemy when they treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant and insulted the Spirit of grace. But how did they insult the Spirit of Grace? I’ll tell you how, they want out of the family. They are immoral like Esau who sold his birthright for a bowl of beans. They are willing to give up all that God desires to give them just to have a fish dinner again; a bowl of beans, a fish dinner, what’s the difference?

There is a difference between Esau and Israel because Esau did not stand at the foot of Sinai and enter into a legal covenant of law sealed with blood. The people that wept with the mixt multitude to return to Egypt will be punished. God gave them meat to eat until it came out their nose and they loathed meat because they rejected the Lord. Other versions say they despised the Lord.

You become a burden in the church and the enemy of God when you despise the God who delivered you. These are people who know God and were saved by mighty miracles. They are the same people who stood in the door of their tent to worship God afar off. Part of their problem is that they never wanted to draw near God. Our God is longsuffering and kind but he can also be severe. If you reject God why is it wrong if he rejects you? If you despise him why is it wrong for him to despise you? Take heed what you spend your time remembering and what it provokes you to do and say.  You just might get what you want and live to regret it.

Now let’s listen to Moses, that great man of faith and meekest man in all the earth question God’s ability.

Numbers 11:21-22

21        But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ 22 Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”

 Moses needed meat because they are wailing for Moses to give them meat. God told him he would take care of this burden but Moses can’t see how God will pull this off even though he already did it at the Desert of Sin. Moses knew God could provide meat for a day, but doubted God could provide meat for a month. This is not a very good confession but it is a confession from a man who has favor with God. Yes, Moses doubted God’s ability but he is not like the people who create burdens!

 Hebrews 11:24-27

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

 Moses knew the riches and pleasures of Egypt better than anyone else yet he rejected Egypt’s treasures because he saw something better ahead. Even though Moses doubted God’s ability he never cried to go back to Egypt and that is one of the reasons he had such favor with God. So much favor that even when Moses did not have perfect faith God still came though for him.

 Num 11:23

23        The LORD answered Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

 The KJV says whether my word shall come to pass or not. Did God abandon Moses because he failed to have a good confession and enough faith for God to act? NO! God will act on behalf of those who don’t look back! Moses can’t see how God will do this but his negative confession did not stop God from doing exactly what God said he would do and that is the key element. God does not bring our words to pass. God brings his words to pass. God’s arm is not too short to fulfill what he spoke. Our belief that he will or unbelief that he can do what he has spoken is irrelevant. If God could be controlled with our faith and words we would be greater than God.

It is a mystery to me why we continually question God’s ability. I am just as guilty as Moses. But in my favor I have never seen God do the miraculous things Moses witnessed. Not in my favor is the Bible I possess that reveals and explains the mystery parts of which were never revealed to Moses. In my favor I have never spoken to God face to face as a man does his friend. Not in my favor is the Spirit within me that reveals the very thoughts of God. In my favor is the quick response of God to do everything he told Moses he would do. Moses did not have to wait years for an answer. In most cases it was days and sometimes hours. Moses did not have to wait very long for God to give them enough meat for a month. He only had to wait long enough for God to make his burden light.

 Num 11:31-34 NIV

31 Now a wind went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the LORD burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.  34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food.

 The KJV says there they buried the people that lusted. We could also say there they buried the people that lusted for what the world could give them and made life an unbearable burden for others because they were not content with the things God provided for them.

 Rom 8:5-6 KJV

5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

 The carnal minds of the mixt multitude among them produced death in the church. They did not want the manna God sent them from heaven. It’s drying up our soul they whined. Their lust for “others things” angered God and cost them their life. No! They are not going back to Egypt because they don’t belong to Egypt anymore. They are God’s property. If they are not happy having him as a Father the only merciful option is death.

They were miserable in Egypt serving Pharaoh. Now they are miserable in the wilderness serving God. No matter where they are they are miserable. So now they are miserable in hell. What difference does it make if a plague in the body of Christ is removed by a plague?  They are miserable no matter where they are so what difference does it make WHERE they are?

Actually, it does make a difference where they are miserable. It makes a difference to those who are content to serve God with the things he has provided. It makes a difference to those who are content with mercy that is new every morning. It makes a difference to those who are content to patiently endure until God gives them the things he promised.  Why should Moses be so miserable he wanted to die? He  never cried to return to Egypt and is content with the things God provided? When you are a source of misery to those who are content to serve God in the wilderness, why shouldn’t God remove you? Why should God let you make everyone else miserable when there is nothing God can do to make you happy?

We are living by grace not law and it is highly unlikely we will be slaughtered by a plague today. Paul told us what to do when people become a burden in the church.

 Galatians 6:2-5, 7-8

6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load. …… 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

 The KJV says “if a man be overtaken in a fault.” The Greek word is paraptoma (par-ap’-to-mah) which means a side-slip (lapse or deviation), i.e. (unintentional) error or (willful) transgression. This applies to both the unintentional and intentional things we do. Most of the time, it is the unintentional errors that create the burdens we must bear. Whether it is intentional or unintentional it needs to be lifted from the body because it weighs all of us down. Therefore, the spiritual, the people who look ahead instead of looking back, should seek to restore an individual gently and in the process the spiritual need to be very careful that they don’t deceive themselves into thinking they are better then the one who was caught in a sin that became a burden to all of us.  Dealing with sin is a very distasteful job but the spiritual can take comfort in the fact that the one who created the load will also bear the burden he became to others because God is not mocked. 

When the burden of others gets too heavy we don’t have to rebel, complain and weep about it. All we have to do is ask Jesus to help us. He will intervene to discipline or if necessary remove the one creating a burden because God is not mocked by our sin. Those who sow to their flesh creating the burdens we must bear will in due season reap the corruption they have sown. They will not be a burden forever and they will drink the same bitter water they made you drink. Those who bore the burden of others because they do not think themselves superior will in due season rejoice in their own work when they reap what they have sown to the Spirit. Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Every man will bear the burden he has made others bear so think long and hard about that before you look back and become a burden others must carry.


[1] Exodus 7:18, 9:25-31, 10:15

[2] Exodus 33:10

[3] Hebrews 11:15

[4] John 4:24

[5] The Reese Chronological Bible gives the date of Jethro’s visit and advice as May 1462 and Moses complaint about the burden of the people being too heavy as May 1461.

[6] Exodus 18:24-25