Numbers 16:41 – 18:32; Mark 16:1-20; Psalm 55:1-23; Proverbs 11:7
Grumble, grumble, grumble.
“The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled again Moses and Aaron” (Num. 16:41). That is not what I expected to read today.
I thought the whole Israelite community would be in awe of the God who judged Korah, Dathan and Abiram, whom Moses had called “wicked men” (Num. 16:26). The nation had just witnessed a sinkhole swallow these wicked men, and I’m astonished that they don’t fear God!
I know people who don’t fear God. And I’m sure you know some, too. Even some people I love, even some people in my family say they don’t fear God. They live as if He doesn’t exist, as if He doesn’t judge sin. How dare they ignore God!
I feel angry with the Israelites who grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and I feel angry with people who defy the living God. Yet the examples of Moses and Aaron show that they want to save as many lives as they can when the Lord sends the plague.
“Aaron offered incense and made atonement for them, and he stood between the living and the dead and the plague stopped. But 14,700 people died…” (vs. 47-49).
And then God once again validates Aaron’s ministry when his staff not only buds and blossoms, but it also bears almonds overnight while the staffs of the other 11 tribes stay dormant. And God Himself says about the grumbling of the Israelites, “I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you [Aaron and Moses] by the Israelites” (17:5b).
The Israelites' reaction is again not what I would have expected. “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost!” (vs. 12). Again, they misunderstand what God is doing. Yes, they will die if they act as priests instead of the Levite tribes, but this seems like an easy law to obey.
Proverbs says “When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes; all he expected from his power comes to nothing” (11:7).
But the psalm offers us hope when those we love turn away from our God who loves them so much - “Cast your cares upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall” (Ps. 55:22). As we sorrow for their unbelief, we can cast our cares on the Lord, knowing He will sustain and encourage us.
- Nell Sunukjian
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