All posts by Richard

Unleavened Bread: First-born of Israel grow in grace and knowledge

The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures the beginning of a new living way. But that new living way was not joyous when Israel left Egypt — days of affliction — and our departure from our “house of bondage” isn’t either. They were learning to live in a way, and so are we.

The Messiah rode into Jerusalem on a small male donkey, on the day that we call Palm Sunday. Why was the donkey so important that God said to break its neck if you don’t redeem it by killing the lamb instead. Imagine sacrificing a lamb to save a donkey?

Today is the day that you are to redeem your first born son and make him holy. Did you know that your first born son is holy to God? Did you know that the donkey, even though it’s an unclean animal, is holy to God?

God writes His law deep in our hearts, which flow with “living water.” We are to grow in grace and knowledge as we get older. We never stop growing, even when we are very old.

Continue reading Unleavened Bread: First-born of Israel grow in grace and knowledge

Numbers 19: Red heifer a picture of Messiah

The blood of the red heifer, described in Numbers 19, was a shadow of Messiah Yeshua. The heifer was not killed on the altar in the tabernacle. The heifer was killed in a clean place, but not in a holy place. Before the Red Heifer was killed, she carried no burden but after her death, she had to carry a very heavy burden, which was the sin itself. All of this is symbolic of Messiah Yeshua. 

What is this chapter about? Protecting the sanctuary? Protecting life? This is the only sacrifice that makes all the participants of the sacrifice temporarily unclean, including the priest himself. 

If a person touched a dead animal, he was unclean until evening but if one touches a dead human being one was unclean for seven days. 

The high priest could not supervise this sacrifice, the second in command was the one who had to be willing to be temporarily unclean for this. Eleazar did not kill the heifer, he supervised it. Yet, Eleazar the priest and all the others who participated in the sacrifice in one manner or other were unclean until evening. Everything was burned: flesh, bones, hide and even the dung was burned. 

Once the heifer was killed, Numbers 19:4 says: 

“Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle some of its blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times.” (NASB)

It’s a similar ritual to the ritual of Yom Kippur but he was doing this outside the camp, not in or near the tabernacle. 

The heifer was not killed on the altar in the tabernacle. The heifer was killed in a clean place, but not in a holy place. 

The heifer was not burned up alone. 

“The priest shall take cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet material and cast it into the midst of the burning heifer.” (Numbers 19:6 NASB)

These items are all symbolic of purification and added redness to the sacrifice, but the ashes are not the end of the story. 

“Now a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place, and the congregation of the sons of Israel shall keep it as water to remove impurity; it is purification from sin.” (Numbers 19:9 NASB)

The point of this sacrifice and purification was to separate the people from death. Death is an overwhelming topic of this chapter. Death is the enemy.

The death of the red heifer is for the benefit of the people, not for God’s benefit. We think of death as natural and accept it as such but death is not natural. It was not part of God’s design when He made Adam and Eve. God made mankind for life, not death. 

The Jewish people who have been trying to recreate all the items needed for the rebuilding of the Temple have not been able to find a truly red heifer. There have been many red heifers that were close but not quite right. However, if they ever find a truly pure red heifer, Christians need to take stand up and take notice because God is doing something. 

The ashes of the Red Heifer represents something “unclean.” She was clean before she was killed. She had to be flawless, never yoked, perfectly red and innocent. Now she is dead and although the ashes were unclean, when her ashes were mixed with water and sprinkled on someone who had touched a dead human being, her ashes would make that person clean. 

No one can really purify him or herself. Only the High Priest can declare one holy or unholy. 

“That one shall purify himself from uncleanness with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and then he will be clean; but if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean.” (Numbers 19:12 NASB)

God wanted the Red Heifer to be killed outside His dwelling place. The red heifer is directly related to the Son of God. Just as the red heifer is killed outside of the camp, the Son of God was killed outside the camp too. 

“Anyone who touches a corpse, the body of a man who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from Israel. Because the water for impurity was not sprinkled on him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is still on him.” (Numbers 19:13 NASB)

“But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself from uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD; the water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him, he is unclean.” (Numbers 19:20 NASB)

If you did not purify yourself, if you did not accept the death of the Red Heifer to clean you, you were no longer a member of the commonwealth of Israel. You were cast out as a goyim

Touching any dead human being would cause one to be unclean, not just someone who was newly dead but even of one touches the bones of a person who had been dead for a very long time is unclean. God made this ritual not simply to prevent the spread of disease but to make sure that we don’t treat the death of a human being casually. 

Before the Red Heifer was killed, she carried no burden but after her death, she had to carry a very heavy burden, which was the sin itself. 

What is the weakness of the Torah? The Torah cannot change the heart, can’t make one holy. It can’t pay the price for sin. This is what the Apostle Paul was talking about in Galatians. The Torah is our teacher, but not our savior. It tells us about mercy, trust and faith. The Torah can’t bring life, only the life and resurrection of the Son brings life. This doesn’t mean we should break the law, we should keep the law. 

“Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lamp-stand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.” (Hebrews 9:1–5 NASB)

The author of Hebrews is not talking about the 613 laws but about the 10 commandments in the Ark. 

“Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,” (Hebrews 9:6–9 NASB)

When Yeshua was sacrificed, He was sacrificed whole, his flesh, blood, everything offered up for us. 

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:11–14 NASB)

The blood of the Red Heifer was a shadow of Messiah Yeshua. Life is in the blood. When Yeshua was sacrificed, blood and water came out. 

When we are cleaned with the blood of Messiah Yeshua, we take His death, mix it with the Holy Spirit and we have life. 

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.

Numbers 16-17: Rebel against God’s appointed leaders, rebel against God

When we are not satisfied with the position God placed us and we covet someone else’s job or position, we are in grave spiritual danger and we may experience physical consequences for our rebellion, maybe in the extreme way these rebels experienced, but God does not like complainers. Any insight we have about our condition comes from God. 

What was God doing in the events of Numbers 16-17? The people were rebelling against Moses and Aaron but they were really rebelling against God. 

Remember that this happened AFTER they had accepted the bad report and God had refused to let them enter the Promised Land. They were blaming Moses and Aaron for the fact they were not entering the land instead of themselves. 

The first group, lead by Korah, were rebelling against Aaron and his status as priest. The second group, lead by the leaders of the tribe of Reuben were rebelling against Moses. Both groups were really rebelling against God but using Moses and Aaron as surrogates. 

The clan of Korah (as referred in Numbers 3:31-32) were in charge of the Ark, the table, the menorah, the altars and the implements of the Tabernacle. Korah was challenging God’s right to appoint Aaron and his sons as High Priests. 

The clan of Korah had a very special job, that the other Levites were not allowed to do. They were entrusted with the most holy items, those items that dwelled in the most holy place. 

Each group of rebels tested God for different reasons and were tested by God in different ways. The rebels who sided with Korah, 250 men, were told to bring censers for burning incense. The rebels of Reuben were not given this test. 

The clan of Korah wanted to be the High Priest. They did not like the appointment God gave them, they wanted Aaron’s appointment.

Here is the core of Korah’s accusation: 

“They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?'”(Numbers 16:3 NASB)

What happened to Korah? We don’t know yet. Moses has another group of challengers to address first: Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab of the tribe of Reuben. Their gripe was totally different. They didn’t care about the role of High Priest. Moses was their target.

They didn’t like the way Moses was leading the people. They wanted to lead the people back to Egypt. Didn’t they learn from the last group who tried to do that? Apparently not because pride blinded them. They were going to appoint themselves as leaders of the people.  

God was in the Tabernacle and when God wanted to meet with someone, they came to His house, God did not leave His house to meet with them. The one with higher status summons those with lower status to meet with him in his home. 

They refused Moses’ summons to meet with him because they refused to honor Moses as God’s chosen leader. We might call this treason. 

Moses responds by addressing God, not the rebels. 

“Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, “Do not regard their offering! I have not taken a single donkey from them, nor have I done harm to any of them.”” (Numbers 16:15 NASB)

When God rejects an offering, it’s usually not because of the offering but because of the heart of the person offering it. Moses asks God not to accept their rebellion. 

“Thus Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the doorway of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.” (Numbers 16:19 NASB)

When God shows His glory, it’s not just something beautiful, it’s a display of power. The glory of God killed the 250 people who brought their censers. 

After this Moses went to the homes of Dathan and Abiram, with the elders of Israel following him. God shows up as well. 

“Moses said, ‘By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD.'” (Numbers 16:28–30 NASB)

God commanded the earth to open up and they were swallowed up. It put the fear of God (and of Moses) into the congregation. 

“All Israel who were around them fled at their outcry, for they said, ‘The earth may swallow us up!'” (Numbers 16:34 NASB)

God has to use fear sometimes so we will respond and obey His wishes in our lives. He doesn’t do it out of hatred but for our good.

“Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.” (Numbers 16:35 NASB)

Fire takes life quickly and these people were killed instantly. Their incense and censers were gathered up and made into a cover for the altar, as a visual reminder of what happens when people rebel against God. 

After all this, the people still continued to murmur. Our insight comes from God’s hindsight. Wisdom comes only from God. This is for us to learn not to take God’s mercy for granted. 

“But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, You are the ones who have caused the death of the LORD’S people.'” (Numbers 16:41 NASB)

How did Aaron respond? He ran into the midst of the people with his incense and censer and he was able to stop the plague. Moses couldn’t stop it, it wasn’t Moses’ job. Aaron didn’t quibble, he didn’t question, he just did it. Aaron showed by his actions that God chose the right person to be the first High Priest. He set the tone for his descendants in his sacrificial compassion.

“Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD, the plague has begun!’ Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. He took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked. But those who died by the plague were 14,700, besides those who died on account of Korah.” (Numbers 16:46–49 NASB)

Aaron’s actions made atonement for the people sin, just as Messiah Yeshua made atonement. God wasn’t done proving to the people Who He was the One Who chose Moses and Aaron to be their leaders and that Moses and Aaron did not choose themselves. 

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, and get from them a rod for each father’s household: twelve rods, from all their leaders according to their fathers’ households. You shall write each name on his rod, and write Aaron’s name on the rod of Levi; for there is one rod for the head of each of their fathers’ households. You shall then deposit them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony, where I meet with you. It will come about that the rod of the man whom I choose will sprout. Thus I will lessen from upon Myself the grumblings of the sons of Israel, who are grumbling against you.'” (Numbers 17:1–5 NASB)

God took Aaron’s dead rod and brought it back to life. Aaron was God’s rod, just as Messiah Yeshua is God’s rod. 

“Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds. Moses then brought out all the rods from the presence of the LORD to all the sons of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod. But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings against Me, so that they will not die.'” (Numbers 17:8–10 NASB)

The High Priest is the one who decides who is clean or unclean, not a king, not a general, only the High Priest. It’s an important position. The rod was put into the Ark, covered by the mercy seat. 

The rod that was dead that was brought back to life, it blossomed and produced fruit is a message for us. Now the rod has a different meaning, a different purpose than a staff. A staff guides, a rod corrects. Aaron’s resurrected rod is there as a reminder that God corrects those He loves.

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy. 

Numbers 15: One law for Israelite and foreigner

Numbers 15 is not disconnected from Numbers 14, which ends with disobedient people trying to enter the Promised Land after they had rejected it. The rebellious Israelites were routed in that battle. 

“Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land where you are to live, which I am giving you,” (Numbers 15:1–2 NASB)

This message is not for those who rebelled and were to die in the wilderness. This message is for the younger generation. 

The rebellious ones tried to “repent” but they were actually acting in further rebellion. This is written for our understanding so we will know how God acts and thinks. When we say “no” to God and then we try to say “yes,” sometimes our “yes” comes too late. God cannot be mocked. When we try to assume that God will keep His promises to us on our terms and not on His terms, we invite trouble on ourselves. 

“… then make an offering by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering or a sacrifice to fulfill a special vow, or as a freewill offering or in your appointed times, to make a soothing aroma to the LORD, from the herd or from the flock.” (Numbers 15:3 NASB)

Every freewill offering is pleasing to God because of the heart of the person bringing it. Everything we give to God is something God gave to us first. 

We see in Numbers 15:4-12 that the more expensive the animal, the greater the grain and wine offerings to accompany it. There is a reason to all these offerings. 

“All who are native shall do these things in this manner, in presenting an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD. If an alien sojourns with you, or one who may be among you throughout your generations, and he wishes to make an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD, just as you do so he shall do. As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the LORD. ‘There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.” (Numbers 15:13–16 NASB)

The sacrifices a person presented have more to do about their social status not necessarily their wealth (Numbers 15:17–21).

When they were ready to enter the land, the first thing the people were to do is to give a freewill offering of a portion of the harvest. When you give a gift to God, you are really giving it to your High Priest, Yeshua. God wants to be appreciated for His gifts, just as we want to be appreciated when we give a gift (Numbers 15:22–26). 

God’s response to a sin done in ignorance, whether it’s an individual or a communal sin is to request an offering of repentance. The priest will run interference and present the offerings to God. God winks as long as we remain ignorant but once God shows us our error, we have to respond in repentance. 

Most of us have entered into the community ignorant of God’s rules until God show them to us. We had no knowledge about the Sabbath or the Holy Days until God showed them to us. We used to enjoy Christmas and Easter and He winked at our ignorance until He was ready to show us the truth. God is not looking to find fault with all of us, He is looking to save us from our faults. 

The native born is to do sacrifices, the sojourner can if they wish. However if the sojourner chooses to present a sacrifice to the Lord, they are to do it the same way the Israelite does it. The bar will not be lowered for the sojourner. If you are just a visitor, God doesn’t require anything of you but if you want to join the community, become a citizen of Israel, you have to act like a citizen of Israel, upholding the same standards. You receive the same blessings but you also take on the same burdens and responsibilities (Numbers 15:30–31).

For a native Israelite be “cut off” from the people means he is no longer a part of the people of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He no longer has any rights to those promises. You can not mock God and expect for it to end well. 

The latter part of this chapter is an example of a presumptuous person. This story is not inserted randomly. 

“Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation; and they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.’ So all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.” (Numbers 15:32–36 NASB)

This man had been in the community for at least three years. He knew when the Sabbath was, he knew what resting meant, yet he didn’t care to rest. This stoning took place outside the camp, “cut off” from the community. 

What we see and do really does matter to God. We ignore the Word of God and do what we want to do at our peril.

Tassels on garments

“The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God. I am the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the LORD your God.’” (Numbers 15:37–41 NASB)

This tassels, or ציציתות tzitzitot (H6734), are made from multiple strands of thread. The more strands woven together, the stronger the tzitzit. That shows the strength and power of God’s word. 

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy. 

Numbers 14: Bad report about Promised Land sparks rebellion

The “bad report” brought by the spies about the land God promised to give Israel was a dishonest report. Yet because the majority of the spies were willing to spread lies, the honest report of the two faithful spies was drowned out. The leaders of Israel believed the false report so completely that they were planning an insurrection to have Moses and Aaron stoned and then appoint a “leader” who would return them to Egypt. Numbers 14 is an example of democracy gone wrong. It is also a story that shows us God’s great forbearance with us in our lack of faith. We would not have tolerated the 10 times of grumbling that God tolerated. Yet He had to enact discipline too. 

The “bad report” brought by the spies was a dishonest report. It was from a different spirit than the spirit in Caleb and Joshua. We all have a spirit in us given to us by God. It’s built to hear from God but the majority of the spies did not want to hear from God so they brought the bad report. 

The people of Israel believed the bad report of the 10 spies rather than the good report of Caleb and Joshua. This is an example of majority rule that goes wrong. 

They were in the area of Param, just south of where Israel is today, heading north. God later moved them to the other side when they refused to accept the land. 

“Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!” (Numbers 14:1–2 NASB)

They weren’t grumbling silently in their hearts, they were very vocal and even some of them were planning a insurrection against Moses and Aaron and planing to appoint a leader to lead them back to Egypt. 

As we go on, we will see that the people didn’t just disdain Moses and Aaron but they were also showing disdain against God. 

We think that God has infinite patience but even God has His limits. He had to enact discipline at some point. He reached his limit and death took place. After all, He created the flood to eliminate the majority of mankind. He has the power to take life at will. We try to soften God but God is bigger than us. 

They rejected God’s gift of the promised land, the land He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, preferring slavery and degregation in Egypt. 

“…Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, ‘Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.'” (Numbers 14:2–4 NASB)

This is interesting, they wanted to appoint their own leader, rejecting the leaders God chose for them. Even willing to kill the leaders God had given them because they were too scared to go into the Promised Land. 

Moses and Aaron responded with humility, not self-defense or hubris. The righteous spies even tore their clothes in response, mourning the rebellion. They mourned that they were not able to convince the children of Israel to have faith in God. God was giving them a land that already had what we needed to live: orchards, vineyards, fields, homes and public buildings. They would have lacked nothing. 

What are we supposed to learn from this? Where should we focus our attention? Should we be like Aaron? Moses? Joshua?

“Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:9 NASB)

The phrase in Hebrew translated as  “they will be our prey” is literally “they will be our bread.” Bread back in those days did not come from a bakery, pre-sliced. It was torn apart by hand and eaten that way. 

Yet, Joshua and Caleb’s plea fell on deaf ears and the crowd responded with murder in their hearts. It was ten against two. 

“But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the LORD appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel.” (Numbers 14:10 NASB)

The glory of God is His power, not physical beauty. It comes with might and destruction. We see here that God then turns to Moses and starts His own lament. 

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they.'”(Numbers 14:11–12 NASB)

It does sound like God can’t control His anger, but that is not the case. Moses responds to Him and reminds Him that His name is known all over the world because of what He did to Egypt. The eyes of the world are on them now and if God kills all the people of Israel the world will see it too. God was testing Moses. 

When Moses tells God: 

“The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.” (Numbers 14:18 NASB) 

The English phrase “forgiving iniquity” literally means “carrying iniquity” in the Hebrew. This is what Messiah Yeshua did for us on the cross. He carried our iniquity. How long can you carry your suffering? God can carry it for far longer. When justice remains undone, how long does your mercy hold out? How long do you hold back your anger? God extends mercy longer than we do. God holds back His anger longer than we do. We would not have tolerated 10 times of grumbling that God tolerated. Each of us will have to go through this as time goes by. We want God to “hurry up” and come in our world and bring about the Messianic Age but in the meantime, great tragedy will come first before all is resolved. 

Adam and Eve’s first sin was their lack of trust in God. They did not trust God’s word. They didn’t believe that God told them the entire truth. Lies have become truth and truth has become a lie, not just in the USA but in all parts of the world. When Adam and Eve realized they had taken hold of a lie, they had to pay the consequences. 

“So the LORD said, ‘I have pardoned them according to your word; but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD. Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it.'” (Numbers 14:20–23 NASB)

This issue is going to come up again. When God says “trust Me” and “do what I tell you to do even though the odds are against you.” Are you ready to believe God that He will deliver you into His kingdom. There will be a lot of death and destruction to get there. Can you witness the death of 10,000? Do you have that kind of faith in God?

How was Caleb different? This verse is the most important verse in this entire chapter. 

“But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.” (Numbers 14:24 NASB)

Caleb was willing to “pick up his cross” and follow God all the way. The cross is an implement of torture and death. Caleb was willing to follow God all the way. Are you willing to give up something small to follow God fully? Do we have to give up our home? Work somewhere else? Go someplace else that isn’t as pleasant as it is where we are now? Yeshua tells us “Blessed is he who endures to the end.” 

This is not the end of troubles Moses had to endure in the wilderness. They could not plant trees, or vineyards, eating nothing but manna and the occasional goat, lamb or steer for 40 years. No garlic, onions or spices. 

“The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me. ‘Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the LORD, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. ‘Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. ‘Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey ― I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. ‘But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. ‘Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. ‘According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. ‘I, the LORD, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die.'” (Numbers 14:26–35 NASB)

Their grumbling was an act of disdain against God. They looked down on Him, they did not trust Him, they doubted Him. 

Be careful what you ask for. They had previously spoke out against Aaron and Moses saying they wanted them to die in the wilderness. They said it often enough that God gave them what they wanted as a punishment for their disobedience. They would have lived in abundance and safety in the Promised Land but they did not believe that God could terrorize and clear the land of the evil inhabitants.

They were going to appoint their own leader and leave. Remember what their main complaint was? 

“Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:3 NASB)

God says that the women and those who are 20 or under at this time will enter the land in safety while the men 20 years old and up will be the ones to die in the wilderness. 

“Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey ― I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. ‘But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. ‘Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness.” (Numbers 14:31–33 NASB)

All the good blessings we have come from God, not us. Everything we have that we give to our children and to others are simply gifts from God we are passing on. 

The children had to suffer for the sins of their elders. They had to endure until all that generation passed away. 

Why do we bear one another’s burdens? This is not bearing one another’s sins. God bears our iniquity and transgression, He carries them on His shoulders. That’s heavy. He created all of mankind and He wants us to come back. 

He doesn’t “put up with” our sins, transgressions and iniquities. His Son carried them and paid the ultimate price for them.

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy. 

Numbers 13: A bad report, a promise delayed

Here again we have a list of names, one man from each tribe (except Levi) who Moses appointed as spies to check out the land of Canaan. These men are not the same men as those appointed as leaders and elders of Israel in prior chapters. God appointed those men. 

Be careful about saying that Moses did a lousy job at choosing the spies. This is an object lesson in this chapter on what happens to a nation when the leadership are called by God to move and they do not move. When we refuse to move when God tells us to move, we can block God’s blessing. When we do not do what God wants us to go, God’s blessing won’t flow to us. 

They were sent to spy out the land for 40 days. These men are recorded for a reason. 

What and who was God testing with this spy mission? The one trait that most of these spies lacked was courage. 

Some of the names have obvious and easily ascertained meanings, others are “unknown.” Here are the spies (tribe: spy, family):

  • Reuben: Shammua (renowned, be desolate, to be stunned, appalled or angry) the son of Zaccur (memory, mindful)
  • Simeon: Shaphat (he has been judged, to perish, to enter into controversy, execution of judgement) the son of Hori (cave dweller, dwelling in a dark place)
  • Judah: Caleb (a dog that attacks, to come with force) the son of Jephunneh (“God is turned”, prepare, reconcile) 
  • Issachar: Igal (“He redeems”, redeemer) the son of Joseph (God adds, increase)
  • Ephraim: Hoshea* (deliverer) the son of Nun (offspring, prosperity)
  • Benjamin: Palti (“my deliverance”) the son of Raphu (remedy, healer, medicine)
  • Zebulun: Gaddiel (“El is my fortune”) the son of Sodi (“intimate with Yah”)
  • Joseph: from the tribe of Manasseh: Gaddi (substance,existence) the son of Susi (to come to an end, perish, die in epidemic);
  • Dan: Ammiel (my kinsman is God) the son of Gemalli (become abundant)
  • Asher: Sethur (the hidden things, to shelter) the son of Michael (Who is like God?)
  • Naphtali: Nahbi (faint-hearted) the son of Vophsi (meaning unk)
  • Gad: Geuel (the majesty of God) the son of Machi (someone who sells himself for wages).

*Moses later changed his name to יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Yehoshua/Yahushua/Yahshua (Joshua), which means salvation or deliverance.

Joshua is not known for saving people but for being a fierce leader who executed people. He was not a “push-over.” He was as feared and revered as Moses. His job was to deliver them into the Promised Land. 

Why did Moses change Hoshea’s name? It’s because the name Joshua makes it clear that God is salvation, God is the deliverer. 

Is God’s only goal to deliver you out of sin? No, God also wants to deliver you into life. God wants to deliver us from sin and move us into a better place. God delivered them from death and God was wanting to take them into life to thrive. 

God was delivering them into a land they were supposed to conquer but they were too scared to do the job. 

Except for Caleb and Joshua, these men died in the wilderness, they did not live up to their names. They didn’t trust or believe God.

The fact that there isn’t much of a pattern to the names in this list showed me that if you don’t live up to your name, then your name is not relevant, it has no meaning. 

Moses gave the spies a certain charge: 

“When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, he said to them, “Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country. “See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many. “How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications? “How is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.” (Numbers 13:17–20 NASB)

The spies obeyed the letter of Moses’ decree. They traveled across the land and learned about the inhabitants of the land, the layout of the cities and brought back fruit from the land. 

They were afraid of the giants. There are times when we have to face our own giants and we have to make a decision that is not pleasant and face them head-on. The 10 spies to spread the report did not want to fight the giants. They challenged God’s wisdom. God knew what He was doing to give them that land and they doubted God’s provision. 

The Canaanites were a very wicked people, whose cultural and religious practices were abhorrent to God but they were more scared of the “giants” than they were of God. They considered God untrustworthy.

We all have a fear of those who are bigger or more powerful than we are. It’s easier to judge them than to put ourselves in their shoes. It’s easier to dismiss them as “cowards.” 

Instead of facing what we fear, we want to cower and back away, but you will lose if you don’t walk forward when God tells you to walk. 

When you walk where God wants you to walk, you might lose your job, your friends, even your family yet you have to make the unpleasant decision sometimes. 

Yeshua also verbally attacked His opponents when they were interpreting the bible in such a way as to oppress others. He also defended the defenseless against those who were oppressed. Yeshua’s only job is not to deliver us from sin, He is also going to bring us to the Kingdom of God.

King and Kings and Lord of Lords are two functions: one to save and one to deliver. Save from sin and deliver to the promised land. 

The first thing the Son of God had to do for us was to deliver us out of the hands of the liar, the destroyer. 

The land that God was going to give them was a land of abundance. The blessings were shown to them to show us that He can give His people food, prosperity, wealth, blessing which they did not sow or reap. It was already done for them, all they had to do was walk in and take it, but they would have to work for it to appreciate it. 

We did not sow or reap our lives. God does that. We did not chose to be born, we can not choose when we die. It is God who sows and it will be God who will resurrect and reap us in His time. 

When the Israelites doubted God’s word, He took the blessing away from the majority of that generation of forever. They never entered into the Promise. But for Caleb and Joshua, the promise was delayed to them for 40 years. Joshua and Caleb paid a price for the cowardice and unbelief of their peers. 

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.

Numbers 12: Lift yourself up and be cast down

The overall lesson of Numbers 12 is not to lift yourself up above or at the expense of others. We are told in Numbers 12:3 that Moses was “…very humble, more than any man…” 

Moses was not a brave, audacious man. He had little confidence in himself, either when he killed the Egyptian or when God called him at the burning bush. He never considered himself better than anyone else. Aaron and Miriam, on the other hand, were not so humble.  

“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman)….” (Numbers 12:1 NASB)

Moses’ Cushite’s wife was a symptom of a deeper grievance that Aaron and Miriam had against Moses. On the surface it seems that Miriam and Aaron were racists but as you read the chapter you see that God doesn’t address their criticism of Moses’ wife because she was just a symptom. God saw a deeper problem that needed to be addressed. 

The scriptures refer to Miriam in Ex. 15:20 as “Miriam the prophetess” obedient to her mother when she was a young girl. Miriam’s name in Hebrew — מִרְיָם Miryam (H4813)  — means “rebellious,”  from מְרִי m’riy (H4805, bitterness) and מָרָה marah (H4784, to make bitter).

“Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt And ransomed you from the house of slavery, And I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam.”(Micah 6:4 NASB)

The only time the Scriptures record a bad report about Miriam is in Numbers 12. 

“and they (Miriam and Aaron) said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the LORD heard it” (Numbers 12:2 NASB)

As far as we can tell, Moses never heard Aaron and Miriam’s complaints about his new Cushite wife or their grumbling about his status in comparison to their own, but God heard it and He did not wait to render correction. 

“Suddenly the LORD said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, ‘You three come out to the tent of meeting.’ So the three of them came out.” (Numbers 12:4 NASB)

No one else was called to this meeting, except Moses, Aaron and Miriam. There was something God wanted Moses to hear. This will not be the last time Moses and Aaron faced an insurrection against their leadership.

What we have here is not your typical sibling rivalry. Moses was the youngest brother, who was taken from his family after he was weaned around two years old. There was a separation between Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Moses did not have the same type of sibling connection with Aaron and Miriam that Aaron and Miriam had with one another. 

Moses has no idea why God is calling this meeting. Why this meeting was called and why it was recorded is for our admonition. 

“He said, ‘Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?'” (Numbers 12:6–8 NASB)

Aaron and Miriam was not the first to receive dreams and visions. Abraham, Jacob and Joseph also received dreams and visions. But Moses didn’t receive revelations from God in dreams but “mouth to mouth, openly.”  The word “dark sayings” is the Hebrew word chidah (Strongs H2420) which literally means riddles. It’s refered to in Brown, Dryer Briggs as “riddle, enigmatic, perplexing saying or question.” 

God also said that He revealed His form to Moses. When did that happen? The second time Moses went up to Mt. Sinai to receive the commandments. 

“If then I have grace in your eyes, let me see your ways, so that I may have knowledge of you and be certain of your grace; and my prayer is that you will keep in mind that this nation is your people.” (Exodus 33:13 BBE)

“And the Lord went past before his eyes, saying, The Lord, the Lord, a God full of pity and grace, slow to wrath and great in mercy and faith; Having mercy on thousands, overlooking evil and wrongdoing and sin; he will not let wrongdoers go free, but will send punishment on children for the sins of their fathers, and on their children’s children to the third and fourth generation. Then Moses quickly went down on his face in worship.” (Exodus 34:6–8 BBE)

God tells them that He speaks to Moses directly but he speaks to Aaron and Miriam in riddles and parables. 

Moses is the picture of God and Aaron is a picture of the Son of God. Who is Miriam a picture of? She is a picture of all the tribes of Israel. She is a picture of the House of Israel. Moses was faithful to God’s house. 

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house ― whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” (Hebrews 3:1–6 NASB)

God built the house, not Moses. God owns the house, not Moses. 

“But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses, ‘Oh, my lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned.'” (Numbers 12:10–11 NASB)

Aaron’s heart was towards his sister and the first thing he did when he saw Miriam’s leprosy, was to repent. Aaron addressed Moses as “Adonai” and understood that even though Miriam was the one physically punished, he was punished too. 

Moses cried out in Miriam’s behalf too. Moses showed how faithful he was to God’s house by praying for Miriam’s healing and restoration.

“Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “O God, heal her, I pray!”” (Numbers 12:13 NASB)

How did God respond? God didn’t kill her. He made it simple for Moses to understand. Miriam should be ashamed of what she has said. 

“But the LORD said to Moses, ‘If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.’ So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.” (Numbers 12:14–15 NASB)

This punishment affected everyone in the camp. They could not move until Miriam was healed. I think it is interesting that Yeshua’s mother was named Miriam, which I don’t believe is a coincidence. Yeshua was born into a nation of rebellious and stiff necked people. 

This isn’t the first time Aaron made a big mistake for which he was not punished. Aaron was also complicit in the incident with the golden calf yet Aaron received no known punishment for that. Aaron did not hesitate when the plague came to run head-long into the people with the incense to stop the plague.

How many times has Yeshua run into your life to save you from death? Many I’m sure. 

You will never read anything more bad said about Miriam from this point of the Bible forward. 

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.