"God's Love in the Old Testament" - Chapter 18



Chapter 18: "Israel in the Desert - Post Sinai"




Chapter 18 – Israel in the Desert – Post Sinai


In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out--until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels (Ex 40:36-38)



Contents of Chapter 18

18.1 Where we are

18.2 The Failure at Sinai

18.3 Moving on from Sinai

18.4 Summary

18.5 Conclusions



18.1 Where we are

As we came to the end of the previous chapter we saw Israel at the point where they have just committed themselves to follow the Lord and His Law.
Israel were committed to the Law


They had received the Law via Moses and committed themselves to it. The experience of encountering the presence of God on the mountain had been scary and memorable.


He had been with them throughout the tree months of travelling to Sinai, seen in the form of the pillar of cloud during the day and pillar of fire at night – every day and every night. They had witnessed God's mighty power in delivering them out of Egypt through the ten ‘plagues' and then they had witnessed or heard about how Moses, with God's help, had cleansed the water at Marah, and had brought water from the rock at Rephidim, and they had received the manna every day except Saturdays.

In other words they had known the supernatural presence of God in their deliverance and in their travels and now at Sinai. But are miracles enough? If not, why not?
Is the supernatural presence of God enough?


In a story that Jesus told we find a rich man appealing at the gates of heaven, where he has been refused entry, as follows:


Luke 16:27-31 He answered, `Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' "Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' “No, father Abraham,' he said, `but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' "He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'

  • The Old Testament has the Law and the testimony of the prophets – that had not helped many Jews.
  • Jesus has come and risen from the dead and that has not helped many.
  • The truth is that we can either have open hearts, or hard closed hearts, and if it is the latter, nothing will help.
  • So it provided to be for many of the Israelites – for that is the only way to understand what followed.

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18.2 The Failure at Sinai


If we continue counting the failures of Israel, we now come to:

7th – The Golden Calf


Ex 32:1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt , we don't know what has happened to him."

  • You may observe a note in your Bible that suggests a possible alternative rendering, “make us a god”. They want a visible representation
  • Aaron then takes their gold earrings , melts them down and makes a gold calf (or bull) which he declares is their god.


Ex 32:4-6 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel , who brought you up out of Egypt ." When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, "Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD." So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

  • Whether Aaron felt bad about this and tried to direct the people back to the Lord is unclear from the passage but even his setting a feast to the Lord goes wrong for it degenerates into a time of revelry. There is little of the Lord about it.


Ex 32:7-10 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt , have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, `These are your gods, O Israel , who brought you up out of Egypt .' "I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation."

  • The Lord is completely aware of what has been talking place.
  • He tests Moses to see his heart by suggesting that He destroys Israel and continues with Moses alone.


Ex 32:11-14 But Moses sought the favour of the LORD his God. "O LORD," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, `It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel , to whom you swore by your own self: `I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.' " Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

  • Moses shows he is a shepherd of Israel and pleads for them.
  • His pleading is on several levels:
    • why waste all you've done so far?
    • why give the Egyptians grounds to speak badly of you?
    • don't forget your promise of Abraham and the divine plan.
  • He pleads well and the Lord agrees (not that He had wanted to do it anyway.)


Ex 32:25-30 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, "Whoever is for the LORD, come to me." And all the Levites rallied to him. Then he said to them, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel , says: `Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbour.' "The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.

  • Moses had stood in the camp entrance and called for all who were for God to come to him.
  • Everyone COULD have come, but only the Levites did come. This suggests that the rest who were there at the ‘party' were unrepentant.
  • It is clear that part of the judgment is to restore the name of the Lord because of what other neighbouring nations might have been saying about what was going on.
  • The judgement they brought, we should note, was
a) only on a very small proportion of the people, which may mean that only 3000 had been at this orgy before the calf, and b) although no criteria for killing was given, there must have been clear reasons why they picked out only 3000 people i.e. it must have been those obviously involved in the revelry and who probably were unrepentant.
  • What is interesting here is that there is no indication that the Lord had told Moses to do this.
  • This was the response of a man who has been in God's presence for forty days and is now so horrified by what he finds that he takes this drastic action.
  • If the Lord acquiesced to this action we must still bear in mind His words through Ezek (Ezek 18) that we have considered previously and observe that He got no pleasure from this action.
  • That it was a means of dealing with an unrepentant element who had the potential to destabilise the nation is almost certain.
  • Again and again here, we need to remind ourselves that hard actions to preserve the larger body of the nation were, in those circumstances a necessity, grim and unpleasant as it was.   


Ex 32::31-35 So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin--but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written." The LORD replied to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin." And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made

  • In this passage we also see Moses' willingness to lay down his life for the people as he comes before the Lord and intercedes for them.
  • The Lord indicates that He will not destroy ALL the people, but He will destroy those who sinned against Him, indicating that there are obviously more than the 3000 who have died already.
  • This He does by plague, presumably taking those who had been involved in the calf worship but missed by the Levites.
  • Again we must emphasise it is an action of cutting out a ‘cancer' to save the whole body and there is nothing about God relishing this.

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18.3 Moving on from Sinai


We will now work our way through the remaining times when Israel either rebelled or grumbled. What we see is that God now holds them accountable. They are now people who have encountered Him at Sinai in a unique way, who came to a place of commitment to Him. They are now failing in their covenant commitment if they grumble against God.

8th Grumbling – hardships


Num 11:1-3 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them.

  • The Lord's action is simply to bring fire down on the outskirts of the came. It is very restrained, does not burn up much of the camp and no deaths are recorded – but it is a clear warning!
9th Grumbling – Boredom with Manna


Num 11:4-6 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost--also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"

  • The phrase, ‘the rabble with them' suggests a motley group of non-Israelites who came out of Egypt with them who start grumbling and set the rest of the people off as well.


Num 11:16,17 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. 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.

  • The Lord's response is to give the wider leadership a taste of His closeness and an involvement as the Holy Spirit came on them and they were enabled to prophesy.


Num 11:18-20 "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. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 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?" '

  • The disciplinary judgment that comes on this is to give the people just what they want – meat!
  • Except they will have it day after day for a whole month and they will realise that there is something about the manna which is satisfying in a way that quail meat is not.


Num 11:31-35 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. 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. 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. Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food. From Kibroth Hattaavah the people travelled to Hazeroth and stayed there.

  • It is likely that there was so much meat - they spread them out all around the camp – that it went off and became disease ridden and caused a plague.
  • Yet it was seen as a direct outworking of the Lord's discipline. If the people had been careful and had burnt what was not immediately used, such a thing probably wouldn't have happened,
  • In all of these situations there was always the possibility of repentance which would have stayed the hand of the Lord, but that is never forthcoming. This people do not understand God's goodness and His grace that is just waiting for them to turn back to Him.
10th Grumbling – by Miriam & Aaron


Num 12:1-5 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. "Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?" they asked. "Hasn't he also spoken through us?" And the LORD heard this. (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) At once the LORD said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, "Come out to the Tent of Meeting, all three of you." So the three of them came out. Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the Tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam.

  • Miriam and Aaron give way to temptation and pride and God holds them accountable.


Num 12:9-16 The anger of the LORD burned against them, and he left them. When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam--leprous, like snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had leprosy; and he said to Moses, "Please, my lord, do not hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother's womb with its flesh half eaten away." So Moses cried out to the LORD, "O God, please heal her!" The LORD replied to Moses, "If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back." So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back. After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran .

  • God's anger against this foolish couple is strong but He simply moves away from them!
  • When the cloud lifts Miriam appears leprous. It is an obvious judgment.
  • Moses intercedes for her and the Lord allows he respite but only after a week's exclusion.
  • It is a salutary lesson but the couple both survive it! God has been merciful.
11th Grumbling – At giants in the land


Num 13:1-3 The LORD said to Moses, "Send some men to explore the land of Canaan , which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders." So at the LORD's command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran . All of them were leaders of the Israelites.

  • The Lord initiates the spying out of the Promised Land.
  • We may wonder why He did it when he surely knew what the result would be but the truth is that the Lord only knows what the future will be because He sees in the future what does happen and he has to allow it to happen to give them the chance to rise in faith.


Num 13:26-32 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan." Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.

  • The reports are mixed. It is a land of plenty but there are occupants.
  • This requires faith, the belief that God is with them and if He says they can do it, then they can do it. This is Caleb's position. Unfortunately the majority don't agree.


Num 14:1-4 That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 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! 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 ?" And they said to each other, "We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt ."

  • The majority sway the people and the people reject Moses and, by implication, God.


Num 14:11,12 The LORD said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they."

  • Again the Lord tests Moses with an offer of taking over from Israel


Num 14:13-23 Moses said to the LORD, "Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, O LORD, are with these people and that you, O LORD, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. If you put these people to death all at one time, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, `The LORD was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath; so he slaughtered them in the desert.' "Now may the Lord's strength be displayed, just as you have declared: `The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion . Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.' In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now." The LORD replied, "I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times -- not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.

  • Again Moses comes through in a good way and passes the test. in so doing he reiterates the truth of the situation. He pleads on the following grounds:
    • what will the inhabitants of Canaan think of Him?
    • He has declared that he is a loving and forgiving God.
  • It is a good response and the Lord accepts it - yet these people WILL be held accountable! They have got to learn that they are accountable for their actions.
  • This present generation over the age of twenty (age of accountability) will never enter the land but the Lord will not wipe them out; they will simply die naturally in the desert over the next forty years. It is a remarkably restrained act with the purpose of teaching this nation something that will be remembered in future generations.
12th Grumbling – Against Moses


Num 16:1-3 Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites--Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth-- became insolent and rose up against Moses . With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, "You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD's assembly?"

  • There is a leadership rebellion


Num 16:19-27 When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the glory of the LORD appeared to the entire assembly. The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once." 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?" Then the LORD said to Moses, "Say to the assembly, `Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.' " Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 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." 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.

  • The Lord steps in. Another test for Moses? The Lord suggests wiping out the whole assembly.
  • Moses intercedes for them. The Lord agrees to deal with the troublemakers only.
  • Moses does not intercede for the guilty ones.


Num 16:31-35 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 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. At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, "The earth is going to swallow us too!" And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

  • Earthquake and fire take all the rebels.
13th Grumbling – Against Moses (2)


Num 16:41-50 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 facedown. 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.

  • The whole nation don't see it! They blame Moses and Aaron for what was clearly a divine intervention.
  • The Lord threatens destruction of a nation that just cannot believe in Him and in His holy judgment.
  • Moses intercedes with sacrificial incense and the plague which has started is stopped.
14th Grumbling – Against Moses & Aaron for lack of water


Num 20:1-5 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin , and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron . They quarrelled with Moses and said, "If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD! Why did you bring the LORD's community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!"

  • The nation is stuck in the wilderness and this now seems to get to the people who oppose Moses because of further lack of water.


Num 20:6-12 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. The LORD said to Moses, "Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink." So Moses took the staff from the LORD's presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them."

  • The Lord does nothing about the grumbling and simply gives Moses instructions again on how to bring water from the rock.
  • Moses is fed up with the people and speaks and acts harshly.
  • Because he was not restrained and was not a good example, he will be taken home early and will not go into the Promised Land.
15th Grumbling – Against God & against Moses for impatience


Num 21:4-9 They travelled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea , to go around Edom . But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses , and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!" Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.

  • Yet again the people act badly.
  • Snakes appear in the wilderness and a number die from them.
  • The Lord instructs Moses to provide a faith icon for those who have been bitten to come to (as to God) and they are healed.

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18.4 Summary







Ex 14:10 -12

Grumbling – at being trapped by Pharaoh



Ex 15:22 -24

Grumbling – Foul Water of Marah

Water cleansed


Ex 16:1-5

Grumbling – lack of food

Manna provided


Ex 16:19 -20

Disobedience – holding on to manna

Moses angry


Ex 16:27 -30

Disobedience –manna on the Sabbath

Telling off


Ex 17:1-7

Grumbling – lack of water

Water from the rock






Ex 32:1-35

The Golden Calf

Levites kill 3000 + plague






Num 11:1-3

Grumbling – hardships

Fire burned outskirts


Num 11:4-34

Grumbling – boredom with Manna

Quail and plague


Num 12:1-5

Grumbling – Miriam & Aaron

Temporary leprosy


Num 13 & 14

Grumbling – at giants in the land

Walk the desert for 40 years


Num 16:1-35

Grumbling – against Moses

Earthquake & fire kill rebels


Num 16:41 -50

Grumbling – against Moses (2)

14,700 die by plague


Num 20:1-5

Grumbling – lack of water

Moses forbidden to enter the land


Num 21:4-9

Grumbling – impatience

Snakes bit many


The ‘rebellions' of Israel in the wilderness clearly fall into two groups – those before Sinai and those after. In all the cases before Sinai the Lord treats them leniently and simply provides for them again and again.


In the ones after Sinai there is a painful consequence because now the Lord holds them accountable because now they have entered into a covenant with Him and now they have had a much closer personal encounter with Him. Now they should know.

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18.5 Conclusions


a) Purpose


•  To remind ourselves – God's intent is to create a nation that listens to Him, learns from Him, obeys Him, receives all good things from Him, and becomes an example of His blessing to the rest of the world.

•  Therefore everything the Lord does in response to Israel 's rebellions will be to seek to teach them and lead them into a right place with Him.


b) Actions


•  Seen on their own, some of the consequences or ‘judgments' appear really bad. Put in context they seem far less so:



Nature of Grumble


Likely lessons learnt



Fire burned outskirts

A warning – watch out!


Boredom with Manna

Quail and plague

The extent of it was determined by their own behaviour in clearing up or not clearing up.


Miriam & Aaron

Temporary leprosy

A short warning


Refusal to enter the land

Walk the desert for 40 years

Just live your lives here- you're not going anywhere!


Against Moses

Earthquake & fire kill rebels

Leadership holds special responsibility


Against Moses (2)

14,700 die by plague

You can still die early!


Lack of water

Moses forbidden to enter

No one is beyond correction.



Snakes bit many

Go to God and get healed



It is worth noting that numbers 12 to 15 all occurred after the decree that Israel would remain in the wilderness for the next forty years. Whether there is a sense of ‘we're past caring' in the community, is not clear. No.13 may have had an element of deterrence about it if there was that attitude in the older generation.


No.8 did not affect life.

No.10 affected only one leader for a short time.

No.14 affected only one person's long term future (he was already 120!)


No.11 let the nation continue to live in the desert.


No.7 removed in excess of 3000 unrepentant revellers

No.12 removed 250 takeover-rebels

No's. 9 & 15 were determined by personal behaviour.


We should observe before finishing that, although we tend of focus on those who died in the latter rebellions, they actually form a tiny minority of the population, most of whom would have been completely untouched by these things.

To conclude, again we must emphasise there is a great deal of difference between God who acts as just Law administrator and executor in saving the nation and grieving over it, and a God who relishes such things as are postulated by atheists and general critics.

That latter description is far from the God who is revealed throughout the Bible as a whole.  As we have commented a number of times, we need to take the overall picture of God that is conveyed through the whole Bible and apply it to our understanding of specific limited incidents, and not the other way round. We may need a refresher in chapter 4, specifically in the section on 'But what is love?'



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