BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 26, Day 3: Deuteronomy 4-11

Survival Hint:  For those of you with little time:  This day tells you where to find the answers in the passages; so if you are in a rush just read the passages for the questions.

End Notes:  My end notes will only cover the passages we are asked questions about.  It is too much to do all the chapters in one week.

Summary of passages:  Deuteronomy 4:  Moses tells the people to obey God’s laws and decrees without adding or subtracting from them.  God is near the people when they pray.  Teach the laws to your children.  Don’t worship idols nor make any.  Obey the covenant.  God will  not forget His promise to you.  Has any other god done what God has done:  revealed Himself and taken a people out of a nation?

Deuteronomy 5:  Moses reviews the Ten Commandments with the people and his account of receiving them on Mount Sinai.  Moses finishes with the command to follow all of God’s commands so that you may live and prosper.

Deuteronomy 6:  God commands the Israelites to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.  To fear God so that they may prosper and keep His decrees.  Moses warns them to not forget God once in the Promised Land and worship only Him.  To tell their children of the past and urge them to obey as well.

Deuteronomy 7:  Moses tells the Israelites they are to destroy the nations completely that they invade, showing no mercy.  They are not to intermarry with them for they will turn the Israelites away from God.   They are to smash their altars and burn their idols for it is detestable to the Lord.  The Israelites were chosen out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession out of grace and love alone.  God is faithful and will keep His promises and thus demands Israel keep His commands and you will be blessed.  The Lord will drive out the Israelites enemies as He did in the Exodus from Egypt.

Deuteronomy 8:  Again, Moses emphasizes to follow all of God’s commands so that you may prosper. God tested His people to know their hearts.  He tested our hunger so we would know we live on every word of God.  God disciplines His children.  Praise God for the good land He has given you so you don’t become proud in the good times and forget God and say it was you who did all these things.  God gives us the ability to produce wealth.  If you disobey, you will be destroyed.

Deuteronomy 9:  God will be the one going ahead of the Israelites as they take the Promised Land.  God will defeat them not because of anything the Israelites have done but because the nations were wicked and needed to be judged.

Moses reminds the people of God’s anger when He is disobeyed like at Mount Sinai, Taberah, Massah, and at Kibroth Hattaavah.  He reminds them of their rebellion at Kadesh and their subsequent punishment of wandering the desert for 40 years. (Numbers 11-14)

Deuteronomy 10:  Moses recounts how he made the stone tablets and the Ark of the Covenant to hold them.  He recounts Aaron’s death and the setting aside of the tribe of Levi to be the priests and caretakers of the ark.  He tells the people to fear God, walk in His ways, love Him, serve Him, and obey His commandments.

Deuteronomy 11:  Again, Moses says to love and obey God and keep His laws so that they may be able to take the land and live long.  God will provide rain and grass for the animals.  Moses warns to be careful not to turn to other gods.  The people will be blessed if they obey; cursed if they disobey.

Questions:

5a)  We are the people of God’s inheritance.  If you seek the Lord with all your heart and all your soul, you will find Him for he is merciful and will not abandon you nor forget His covenant with you.  Beside God there is no other–He created the earth and everything on it.  His love brought the Israelites out of Egypt and gave them the Promised Land.  No other god has spoken to His people nor rescued a chosen people like our God.

b)  God rescued the people from Egypt to be His inheritance, meaning we are to do God’s will and not our will.  God chose the Israelites as His people out of His great love for them.  They heard His voice, saw miraculous signs, and defeated enemies out of His love and mercy and so that they might know Him.  He spoke to them to discipline them.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Born in the 21st century where life is considerably easier.  Born in the US where I am free and also where life is easier.  This privilege allows me to study the Bible and make Him known more as I know Him more.  And as at the Bible says, I was chosen to be a believer, to be saved for eternity–that is a privilege.  God has chosen me to be with Him all the days He gives–that is the greatest privilege of all.

6a)  Obey all His decrees and commands and laws.

b)  Part Personal Question.  My answer:  To talk about them when they are sitting at home and when they are walking along the road, when they lied down and when they got up.  To make symbols of God’s commandments and bind them to their foreheads and hearts.  To tell them how God brought them out of Egypt and performed miracles and gave the land to them.  If they obey God, they will prosper.

I will try to give God all the glory for all of our blessings and our troubles.  To speak of Him daily. To pray daily.  To read His word.  To live out His teachings.  Let my children know it is all because of Him.

7)  We should follow all of God’s commands so that we may prosper. God tested His people to know their hearts. He tested our hunger so we would know we live on every word of God. God disciplines His children. Praise God for the good land He has given you so you don’t become proud in the good times and forget God and say it was you who did all these things. God gives us the ability to produce wealth. If you disobey, you will be destroyed.  God is the ultimate judge as He judged the occupiers of the Promised Land and destroyed them.

8 )  “To fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees.”

Conclusions:  Grace and love is the theme for all 8 of these chapters.  A ton here and a lot of it is review of things we’ve already read.  Moses is teaching the new generation, emphasizing how they must obey or face judgement.  If they merely obey and love God, they will prosper.  It is that simple.

End Notes:  Deuteronomy 4:  Moses just reviewed the past sins of the people.  Now he will review the laws and the importance of obedience so the people do not repeat the mistakes of the past.  Obedience would be key as the Israelites engaged in battles with the occupants of the Promised Land.  God had to be with them to defeat their enemies; and that required obedience.

God wanted them to be an example to others nations, which would spread the Gospel to come.

Moses especially pointed out their time at Mount Sinai.  This he wanted the children to be taught.  Here, the people heard God speak but saw no form–a powerful testament against idols.  Here the laws were given.  Moses warned them not to worship the creation but the Creator.

If God punished Moses, the closest person to God possibly ever besides Jesus, then He will punish them as well.  Still, the people would cross over without him.  Their lives didn’t depend on a man (Moses); it depended on God. Hebrews 12:29 quotes verse 24.

God often gives us what we want–the good and the bad.  If the people wanted idols, He’d give them idols–by sending them to a land full of idols.

Upon examination of your life, believers and unbelievers are confronted with the fact only God could do the miracles in their lives–providing the strength and courage to overcome every obstacle in our path.  Following God’s way is the only way in the face of all the other choices.  And all God asks is obedience.

As his final act Moses is giving the law to the new generation.  One can only hope they heed his/His words.

Deuteronomy 6:  Known as the Shema, verses 4-9 are recited every morning and evening by orthodox Jews and have been for hundreds of years.  They may very well be the most quoted verses in the entire Bible.

The Hebrew word used here for “one” encompasses a compound unity.  First used in Genesis, we see the word again used in Exodus 26:6 to describe the tents as one–meaning two parts joined together.  The word encompasses the Trinity.  The Hebrew for “Lord” here as well is a plural noun.  Moses was indicating the Trinity.

God wants obedience first and then He wants our love as he states.  Everything else (our time, money, etc ) follows.

Here we see where phylacteries (little boxes worn on the forehead) came from as well as mezuzah (small boxes of scripture nailed on doorways).

Moses is warning about forgetting God, especially in good times.  God knows in the future the people will obey, prosper, and then fall into sin and do this again and again and again (book of Judges).

Like I said before, Jesus used these passages to rebuke Satan in the desert (Matthew 4).

Massah (Exodus 17:1-17) is where the Israelites doubted God’s love for them, which tested God–another no-no that Jesus used to rebuke Satan in Matthew 4.

Here we see stark examples of why the Old Covenant didn’t work and why we needed Jesus and the New Covenant he brought.  The Old Covenant demanded obedience or be punished.  As we’ve seen in this study, the Israelites failed miserably in this.  The New Covenant demands faith in Jesus.  Period.  We receive forgiveness instead of punishment.  The New Covenant brought us the Holy Spirit, written on our hearts, and giving us the ability to obey. (Romans 8:1-4).  This is the power of Jesus, the infinite wisdom of God, and the ultimate show of grace and love in all of the world.

In verse 25, we see you had to obey all the laws to be righteous before God (impossible).  Here, we have Jesus.  Faith in him and we are righteous.  How awesome!

It it imperative to teach your kids about God or they will become placid amid all the comforts of this world.  We see today in the entitlement generation.  Key is God and His word.  Recounting Him and reading His word and walking in His word.  That’s the best way to ensure your kids don’t take Him and His blessings for granted.

Deuteronomy 7:  This chapter is all about God’s grace to the Israelites.  How He chose them and how He will provide for them defeat their enemies.  Everything God does is for our good if we’d only listen.  He says to destroy the peoples and their idols to protect themselves from their influence.  Great stuff!

Deuteronomy 8:  God wants us to rely on Him and be content in the humility.  He tests us so that we would know our hearts; God already knows our hearts.  Be humble.  Depend on God.  Read His word.

God wants you to prosper; but not to worship prosperity.

Great reminders here about forgetting God in the good times and only needing Him in the poor times.  He blesses us to do His work and not ours.

Pride is dangerous as this is the sin that took Satan himself down.  We must be wary always.

Deuteronomy 9:  To defeat their enemies, the people would need God.  Complete faith in Him alone to do the impossible.

By reminding the Israelites of their past sins, God desires them to turn to Him in the face of sin.

Deuteronomy 10:  Circumcise your hearts refers to the circumcision of all Jewish (and now Christian) boys when there were 8 days old.  This not only sets the Israelites apart from their uncircumcised neighbors, but it’s a metaphor of how the Israelites are to live their life–out of the Spirit, not the flesh.  This command is repeated in Jeremiah 4:4, but uncircumcised hearts are recorded in Leviticus 26:41, Jeremiah 9:26, and Ezekiel 44:7 and 9.

God requires justice, compassion, and reverence from us.  “He is your praise” as you praise Him and all that you do is praise to Him.

Map Showing the Camp of Israel and the Tribes God commands them to conquer in Deuteronomy 7 (Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites):

http://www.kidsbiblemaps.com/joshua-promised-land.jpg

Fun Fact:  Deuteronomy promises the new land to the Israelites 69 times.

Fun Fact:  Deuteronomy commands us to love God 13 times.  Love is a decision, not a feeling.

Time Fact to Complete this Lesson:  3 days and 6 hrs.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 25, Day 5: Numbers 31-36

Summary of passages:  Numbers 31:  The Lord orders Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites.  Moses orders 1000 men from each tribe.  Phinehas son of Eleazar accompanied the 12,000 men to blow the trumpets.  The wiped out all men from the tribe.  They captured all the women and children and took all of their animals back to the plains of Moab where the Israelites were encamped.

Moses was mad that the women were allowed to live when they were the ones who enticed the Israelites into sexual sin and brought about the plague.  He orders them to kill all the boys and every woman who has slept with a man.  Only the virgin girls are allowed to live.  Then all who had contact with a dead body or killed anyone in battle must cleanse themselves with water or fire and stay outside the camp for 7 days.

The Lord orders the spoils to be divided between the soldiers who fought and the rest of the community, including shares for the Levites.  Not one Israeli soldier died in the battle so they brought the gold they had taken as plunder as atonement to the Lord.

Numbers 32:  The Reubenites and the Gadites, seeing good land for their flocks where they were, asked Moses if they could stay here and not cross over into the Promised Land.  Moses reminds them the last time they refused to enter the Promised Land, the Lord’s anger burned against His people and He punished them by making them wander the desert for 40 years.  If they disobey again, Moses warns, they will be the cause of their destruction.

The Reubenites and the Gadites said they would fight with their brothers and take the land promised by God but that they wanted to stay here in the land on the east of the Jordan River.  Moses agreed but warned them they must keep their promised and fight.  So Moses gave them (including half of the tribe of Manasseh) the land they wanted.  They rebuilt the cities and drove out the Amorites.

Numbers 33:  Moses records the stages in their journey at the Lord’s command from Egypt to where they sit right now, on the Plains of Moab overlooking the Promised Land.  God says to drive out all of the inhabitants of the land, destroy all of their idols, take possession of the land and settle it, dividing it by lot according to size of the tribes.  God warns to carry out all of His commands or they will suffer what God does to the Canaanites.

Numbers 34:  God assigns the boundaries of the Promised Land for the 9 1/2 tribes on the West side of the Jordan River.  The 2 1/2 tribes on the East already have their inheritance.  The Lord appoints leaders from each tribe to assign the inheritance to the Israelites.

Numbers 35:  God commanded Moses to give the Levites towns to live in and pasturelands around the towns.  Six of the 48 Levite towns will be cities of refuge for those who kill someone to flee to so that they may stand trial and not be afraid of revenge killings.  If the person does not flee to the refuge town, then they open themselves up to be killed by relatives.

Numbers 36:  This solves the problem of what happens to the land given to Zelophehad’s daughters when they marry.  Thus God says Zelophehad’s daughters must marry within the clan of their father and this applies to every  daughter who inherits land for every Israelite must keep the inherited land in their family.  No inheritance may pass from tribe to tribe.

Questions:

9a)  Yes because the Midianite women were the ones who seduced the Israeli men and introduced other gods for them to worship.  They defiled the land and made it unholy, making it impossible to have God occupy it without atonement (Numbers 35:34).  What atones?  Blood.  Thus, blood had to be shed to make it holy for the Lord.

b)  Whole books have been written on this topic.  Honestly, it’s not for us to know God’s reasons for vengeance.  He says attack, the people attack.  He is God and we don’t question His authority over us.  But as a just God, the penalty for sin must be paid and punished.  Here, the punishment is death which is the punishment for all sin.  It is God’s right to mete it out.  We merely do His will.

Common reasons given for the wars in the OT:  The Promised Land was always in God’s plan.  He promised it to Abraham.  The Canaanites were not innocent people.  They had sinned and as punishment the Canaanites would lose their land (Deut 9:5). We’ve read about their sexual sin and sacrifice of children to false gods.  The Canaanites would contaminate the Israelites and thus had to be completely removed (which didn’t happen because the people disobeyed and the Babylonians would punish them for that).  This was about believers and unbelievers.

10a)  They had very large flocks and herds and wanted to settle in land suitable for the livestock.  I would say they are tired of traveling and ready to settle down.  The land they saw was good and saw no reason (besides obeying God) to continue on.  They were willing to help their brothers take the land so were willing to compromise.  However, they were complacent.  They were content with this land.  Complacency is contagious and leads to stagnation.  We should never be complacent in our growth with God.  Little did they know, but God had greater things for them in the land of Canaan if only they had obeyed.

b)  No.  He chastised them and reminded them about what happened the last time the Israelites refused to enter the Promised Land and basically said they would be the cause of God’s wrath and responsible for their destruction if they did what they proposed to do.

c)  Compromised.  The Reubenites and the Gadites agreed to help the Israelites fight to take the Promised Land and not return to their homes until every Israelite has received his inheritance.  They would not receive their inheritance on that side of the river, preferring these other lands instead.

11a)  So the Israelites will know from whence they came and the power of God who brought them thus far.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Nothing.  My life is uneventful and not of import.  I would say my everyday living speaks for itself.

12)  In the culture of the day, if someone killed someone, their relatives could take revenge and kill you.  Here, God provides cities of refuge so if the killing was accidental, that person could have a fair trial.  This shows that God is the ultimate judge (who gives that authority to the proper authorities) to take a life and He protects His people from needless bloodshed.  God is the giver and the taker of life.  It is His decision.  He is the protector of His people out of His infinite love for us.

Conclusions:  Long lesson and not looking forward to next week where we are assigned to read the majority of Deuteronomy.  Awesome lessons of God reminding His people before they take over the Promised Land of what is important in their lives and just how far they have come.

End Notes:  Numbers 31:  The Israelites enacted vengeance because God told them to do so.  Today, our governments have been given the authority to enact vengeance by God, not us personally.

Note the priests went into battle with them–a sign of God’s blessing.

The custom was to kill the men and take the rest captive.  However, this was against God’s orders.

The male children had to be killed because at this time boys were raised to take revenge against those who had killed their fathers.  Hence, they were a threat to the Israelites.

Things that don’t seem a threat are what us as Christians stumble over.  That’s why it’s important to pray to God and let Him tell you what to do.  We can learn from the Israelites who didn’t eliminate the threat (the women) what can happen.

Purification was important–that’s why we have the Holy Spirit.

Normally the spoil would just be divided up amongst the warriors.  However, God didn’t want the reason for killing to be only about the spoils.  And a portion had to go to the Levites.  God wants givers and not just takers.

Numbers 32:  They were discouraging the others and saying by their example,”The fight was not worth it.  Let’s just be happy here.”  This should remind us of the 10 spies who discouraged the Israelites to not take the Promised Land the first time around.  Again, wholly following the Lord is not contentment with half of what God has for us.  We can accept others’ contentment except when it influences others.

Numbers 33:  Here we can see exactly how much the Israelites moved in 40 years!  For those of us who have moved a lot, this can be punishment in and of itself since it’s no easy task!

God accomplished two goals with the Israelites:  used them to judge the people of Canaan and gave them land promised long ago.

God’s warning will fall on deaf ears as the Canaanites are not completely destroyed and thus over time infiltrate the Israelites and bring about their destruction.

Numbers 34:  This is land given by God, not earned.  Debate over the “Wadi of Egypt” continues today: is this the Nile or some other stream?  Hence, the fight over the Sinai Peninsula continues.

God chose leaders to end any conflict once the land was split.

Numbers 35:  The Levites were distributed proportionately as well so that God’s people would have enough priests.  This reflects Christ as he went to the people and not just the people come to him.

Revenge killing is not bad per se.  It can work–except in the case of accidents.  This is where God steps in to protect His people.  If you murder someone, then yes you should suffer death as well.  However, accidents happen and God provides for that.  The difference between murder and kill here is important.

These cities were evenly distributed with good roads (Deut 19:3).  These cities were open to all and not just to the Israelites.

If found innocent, the man had to stay within the walls of the city until the death of the high priest.  Otherwise, he could still be killed.

The cities of refuge picture Jesus as he is our refuge.

We can murder someone’s reputation as well.

A murderer cannot buy his way out of proper penalty.

Unjudged murderers defile a land.  Unfortunately, a lot get away.  But God knows and they will face ultimate penalty with Him.

Numbers 36:  A picture of no perfect solutions in life.  If a daughter did choose to marry outside the tribe, she’d forfeit her inheritance.  They married their cousins so the land stayed within the family as well as the tribe.

End of Numbers:  We leave the Israelites about to take their final step into the Promised Land. They have come a long way but the last step is what counts.  Sadly, many Christians become lost in the Wilderness and never step into what God has for them.  Faith has brought them this far, but it will take even more faith to finish the journey.

Map showing division of the Promised Land:  http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/large-map-of-division-promised-land-to-israel.jpg

Map of Wilderness Journey up to the Jordan River:  http://www.keyway.ca/gif/wildjour.gif

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 23, Day 4: Numbers 21:8-9

Summary of passage:  The Lord tells Moses to make a snake and put it up on the pole and if the people looked at it, they would live.  Moses obeyed.

Questions:

7a)  “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”

b)  We are not told that Moses did think the instructions were strange.  This is extrapolation.  I did not see this snake as an idol.  An idol is something worshipped as God by people.  This snake is not being worshipped.  I see this snake as not a representation of God.  I see it like a pill we’d take today.  The doctor prescribes a pill to cure you; you take it.  Here, God says look at this snake; it will cure you.  I in no way see this as an idol, and I don’t think Moses did either.  This is pure speculation.

8a)  The snake is a test of faith as Jesus is/was.  God said merely believe this snake will cure you and it will.  Jesus said merely believe I am the Son of God and you will be saved.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Complete.

Conclusions:  I like how this lesson brings out Jesus’s reference.  It is a great analogy of how faith alone is all God requires to be with Him.  What I didn’t like was the interpretation of what Moses thought of being told to make a snake.  It doesn’t matter what Moses thought about it.  If God tells you to do something, you do it.  Period.

BSF could be referring to 2 Kings 18:4 and how the people perverted the snake later into an idol (Nehushtan). But since they didn’t reference the passage or ask a question on it, this to me is out of place.

Maybe I’m just in a sour mood this week.  Whatever the case, too many personal and opinion questions that don’t make a lot of sense.  Our time would be better spent on more meat.

Not sure why we are spending one whole week on one chapter in Numbers.  I see this as nothing we haven’t studied already:  belief followed by unbelief so why spend so much time on it?  Coming up, we will be covering the last 10 chapters of Numbers in one lesson and then the first 26 chapters of Deuteronomy in one lesson/week!  Wish the readings could be spread out more.  Reading big clumps of the Bible is an undertaking and one that is hard to absorb much learning under time constraints.  This can be overwhelming and discouraging to many and keep them from coming to BSF when they can’t complete their lessons on time.  Reading the Bible period is overwhelming and BSF helps to break it into manageable parts.  But for me I’d rather not read so much and get something out of it then hurry up and complete the books and Moses’s life.

End Notes:  The symbolism here is immense.  Serpents are often associated with the devil and evil in the Bible (after all, the devil appeared as a serpent to Eve (Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9). However, bronze is a symbol of judgment as bronze is made through fire.

Thus, here we have an evil (snake) being judged (bronze).  Thus Jesus became sin and was judged. A picture of sin overcome.

We don’t know how the serpent was positioned on the pole.  If horizontal, we’d have the symbol of the cross.  However, traditionally, the serpent is showed being wrapped around the pole.  Here, we have the ancient symbol of a healer (see picture HERE).  Now, upon further research, this is also an ancient Greek myth and a Roman myth (the Romans are infamous for stealing Greek ideas and claiming them as their own) surrounding this symbol.

If you click HERE, I have found a side-by-side comparison of the myths. Below is the Biblical version.  Which is first?  Who knows.  It reminds me of how in many cultures around the world, the creation myth of a flood appears.  It makes me wonder if man has any original ideas or they are just recycled.

I did not know this and find this fascinating where the imagery came from. Wish we spent some time on this in BSF.

We must remember this bronze snake was sanctioned by God and was not an idol.  It was a test of faith only.  It is man who perverts God’s will.

Bonus Read:  Lengthy article HERE on serpents in the Bible, including analysis of this passage. Great explanation of serpents and the Egyptians.

Fun Fact:  Michelangelo painted this IMAGE on the Sistine Chapel.  Way cool!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 23, Day 3: Numbers 21:4-7

Summary of passage:  The Israelites are now traveling around Edom to the Promised Land.  Again, they are grumbling against God and Moses.  So the Lord sent poisonous snakes to punish the people for their sin.  They bit the people and many died.  They went to their intercessor, Moses, to pray for God to take the snakes away.

Questions:

4)  Because the Edomites refused them passage.

5a)  Opinion question.  My answer:  Not sure.  One would think they would be elated after their victory but taking the long way around through desert does take its toll.  They are probably travel weary.  Yet this shouldn’t surprise us.  The Israelites have been grumbling for years now about God’s provision.

b)  God

c)  God sent venomous snakes to kill them.

6a)  They recognized their sin, confessed it, and asked for God to relent and forgive them.

b)  Acknowledge your sin, confess it, and the Lord will forgive you.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I dislike these questions that are so open-ended that I have trouble pin-pointing a specific time.  I would say too many to recollect as this occurs to me almost on a daily basis. I sin, I confess, I experience God’s grace and mercy.  This helps me in incalculable ways in terms of relieving my guilt, allowing me to be a better person, and be more like Jesus.

Conclusions:  Like Day 2, this lesson did nothing for me.  The questions were ones we’ve already seen in previous lessons [ Question 4 was Question 9b in Lesson 22.  Question 5b is numerous questions from previous lessons: Question 7a in Lesson 20, 6a in Lesson 21 ].  The ray of hope is God.  I just wish the people would see this–and I would as well.

End Notes:  Old habits die hard.  Here we see victory and then grumbling by the people.  This scares me as I would like to think I’d be different in these situations but what makes me better than the Israelites?  Nothing.  Very scary, impactful, and convicting when we read of God’s people rejecting Him over and over again.

If you look at my map links carefully (here’s ONE that shows a wide loop), you will see that the Israelites actually had to turn around and go back and away from Canaan to go around the Edomites.  Discouraging?  Yes.  An excuse to complain?  No.

Here we witness the new generation doing the same sins as the previous generation except upped a notch:  they grumble against God Himself as well as Moses.  Not good.  Not good at all.

Some translations say fiery serpents.  Mine says venomous.  This could refer to the color of the snakes as being red or their bite that may have burned like fire.

Scholars believe the victims were mostly of the older generation who died in fulfillment of God’s promise to not allow them into the Promised Land.

Note how the younger generation complained against God but how they also immediately repented and recognized God as their sovereign leader and the only one to save them.  Their hearts are His despite their missteps.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 23, Day 2: Numbers 21:1-3

Summary of passage:  The Canaanite king of Arad attacked the Israelites and captured some.  The Israelites prayed for God to help them destroy these people, which the Lord granted, and the place was named Hormah.

Questions:

3a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I expected them to do just this:  pray first and then do the Lord’s will because I think they would have learned their lesson from Numbers 14:41-45.

b)  The Lord listened and granted their request.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure.  I like to think I am depending on Him.  And I’m not for sure what if any situation in my life needs to be reversed at the moment.

Conclusions:  Sorely disappointed in this lesson.  I got nothing out of these 3 verses and the questions were lackluster.  I’m pretty sure BSF is looking for an answer to 3a to be:  Well, I expected them to just fight back without the Lord’s guidance.  Yet we have seen over and over again here the people’s turnarounds from sin to Him.  Thus, I expect the people to go to God first as I expect all Christians to do.

End Notes:  This was the exact same place I referenced in 3a–Hormah.  First, the Israelites were defeated there and now the Lord grants them victory when He is with them this time.  This would have been a much better question here for this section.

Map of Arad:  http://fgcp.org/system/files/images/Promise-Land-Era.jpg

Map of Hormah and the Route in Edom:  http://www.biblenews1.com/maps/Exodus.jpg

By totally destroying a city, the Israelites are turning it completely over to God.  This would ensure no one else could use this land; hence, dedicating it to the Lord.  This was one of the most sacrificial offerings to God because the land become His once again.

Expect to see more of the same once again of the Israelites to God as they proceed to the Promised Land:  faith and unfaith.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 22, Day 3: Numbers 20:1-13

Introductory Note:  Since Day 2 and Day 3 are the same passage, my summary and end notes are exactly the same as well.

Summary of passage: After 38 years of wandering, Miriam died (scholars date this as the first month of the 40th year of wandering). Again, grumbling by the Israelites against Moses and Aaron because there is no water. Same complaints about food, etc. Moses and Aaron feel down at the Tent of Meeting. The glory of the Lord appeared and told Moses to speak to a rock with his staff and water would appear. Moses struck the rock twice with his staff and water rushed out. However, God rebukes Moses and Aaron for his lack of faith and sentences them to die before the Promised Land is reached as well.

Questions:

6a)  “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.”

b)  Moses did take the staff as commanded and did gather the Israelites together in front of the rock.  However, here Moses did his own thing.  He rebuked the people and took credit for bringing water from the rock.  He struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it.

7a)  They didn’t trust that God’s words were enough.  They thought they needed action so they struck the rock.

b)  They didn’t follow God’s commands.  They took credit for bringing up the water.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure.  This is one of those questions I’ll have an answer to when I get to heaven.

8a)  They will not live to see the Promised Land as well.

b)  Yes.  As leaders they are held to a higher standard than the other Israelites (James 3:1).  Their lack of faith can influence countless others.  Aaron is to be expected.  He’s a follower, period.  Moses, however, was so close to God–closer than anyone before or after–that God must have been heartbroken at Moses’s lack of faith.  It would be similar to a betrayal by your best friend–only infinitely more so.

Conclusions:  The personal question was again in my opinion questionable.  I see it as a reminder that our actions do affect those around us and it’s something we need to be cognizant of.

I’m seeing the overall pattern here:  Trust in God.  Never doubt Him.  He will reward you if you do.  Punish you when you don’t.  Either on this side of heaven or the other.  Trust, trust, trust.  He will never let you down.

End Notes: The Israelites are back at Kadesh (see MAP and MAP) where they first told God “no” about entering the Promised Land (Numbers 13:26-28).

Miriam’s death here is important; it showed the Israelites He was serious about everyone dying before entering the Promised Land. She’s the first of Moses’s family to suffer for their collective sins. Although Miriam had great moments of faith (Exodus 2:4-8; 15:20-21), one major sin marked her for life. We see this today in the downfall of politicians or celebrities. Great lesson for us: no one is exempt from God’s judgment.

Timeline: This is the beginning of the last year of wandering. It appears the Israelites camped at Kadesh here for 3-4 months (based off of Numbers 33:38) perhaps because of Miriam’s death. Aaron will die four months later. The bible doesn’t tell a lot of what happened in this 38 years. Presumably, nothing of consequence as the Israelites merely lived out God’s judgment.

Here we see a new generation of unbelievers as the old generation is dying.

Moses also was not commanded to speak to the nation nor to rebuke there. Here, we see Moses as we’ve never seen him before–utter contempt for the people he has so often saved from destruction. We also see pride when he says “we” as if God were not enough. Moses’s heart had twisted and God obviously didn’t like what He saw.

Moses disobeyed God by striking the rock. I can just imagine his frustration at the people boiling over. However, in his anger, he makes a fatal mistake–literally.

Yet God is so gracious and so good and so loving He provides for His people despite their sins.

Moses did not believe God. He probably remembered back in Exodus 17 where he had to strike the rock.

The punishment was strict. But as we all know, those who know God are called to a higher standard. Can you imagine the standard Moses had to live up to? A lot of pressure. Yet because he was so close to God and a leader, his punishment reflects God’s expectations of those who know Him. Great lesson for us as well.

Moses’s sin was small compared to the Israelites’ sins. Yet not in God’s eyes. God says in Deuteronomy 32:51 that Moses “broke faith” with Him and “did not uphold my [God’s] holiness amongst the Israelites.” A warning to us all–what we consider as a small sin can be huge to God.

Moses pleads with God to let him go over to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 3:23-27) and when God says no, Moses blames the people. Poor, poor Moses. He has seen time and time again of God reversing His initial punishment, not ridding the land of the Israelites and not giving Miriam leprosy that he thinks for sure God will relent and reverse His position. But God does not. Our hearts bleed for him; yet, God remains good and gracious and kind and judging. His ways, not ours.

The picture of Moses reflecting Jesus here is now tainted. Moses struck twice; Jesus only once.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 22, Day 2: Numbers 20:1-13

Summary of passage:  After 38 years of wandering, Miriam died (scholars date this as the first month of the 40th year of wandering).  Again, grumbling by the Israelites against Moses and Aaron because there is no water.  Same complaints about food, etc.  Moses and Aaron feel down at the Tent of Meeting.  The glory of the Lord appeared and told Moses to speak to a rock with his staff and water would appear.  Moses struck the rock twice with his staff and water rushed out.  However, God rebukes Moses and Aaron for his lack of faith and sentences them to die before the Promised Land is reached as well.

Questions:

3)  It is merely mentioned in passing.  Acts of honor or mourning are not mentioned and life seems to move on quickly after her death.  It shows how the older generation is dying and meeting God’s judgment upon them.

4a)  As soon as there’s trouble or life becomes difficult or something doesn’t go their way, the Israelites blame Moses and Aaron.  The people had already faced such an obstacle and God provided.  So why not trust God now?

b)  It’s hard to say here without a tone of voice.  They could be exaggerating but thirst is a powerful motivator and not having water (and we’re not told for how long) can drive people insane.

5)  The Lord provides for the Israelites physical needs (food, water, etc) as He always does. He angers over their lack of faith and punishes accordingly.  Although both are sins (grumbling), the magnitude appears to differ in God’s eyes.  Hunger and thirst can cloud the mind and desperation sets in.  Lack of faith is a heart issue–one much more serious.

Conclusions:  I wonder what this would have looked like if the Israelites, instead of grumbling, had cried out to God every time.  What a testament that would have been!

No shocker for the rebuke of Aaron.  But Moses?  Scripture is vague here (I wonder if Moses was too embarrassed to write it down) but we know it must have been a grave sin for God to rebuke Moses as such.  Some scholars say Moses didn’t follow directions here.  I notice Moses taking credit for the miracle when he says “we” instead of God.  I can’t imagine Moses’s heartache after all this time and all his faithfulness.  It would drive me close to insanity.

End Notes:  The Israelites are back at Kadesh (see MAP and MAP) where they first told God “no” about entering the Promised Land (Numbers 13:26-28).

Miriam’s death here is important; it showed the Israelites He was serious about everyone dying before entering the Promised Land.  She’s the first of Moses’s family to suffer for their collective sins.  Although Miriam had great moments of faith (Exodus 2:4-8; 15:20-21), one major sin marked her for life.  We see this today in the downfall of politicians or celebrities.  Great lesson for us:  no one is exempt from God’s judgment.

Timeline:  This is the beginning of the last year of wandering.  It appears the Israelites camped at Kadesh here for 3-4 months (based off of Numbers 33:38) perhaps because of Miriam’s death.  Aaron will die four months later.  The bible doesn’t tell a lot of what happened in this 38 years.  Presumably, nothing of consequence as the Israelites merely lived out God’s judgment.

Here we see a new generation of unbelievers as the old generation is dying.

Moses also was not commanded to speak to the nation nor to rebuke there.  Here, we see Moses as we’ve never seen him before–utter contempt for the people he has so often saved from destruction.  We also see pride when he says “we” as if God were not enough.  Moses’s heart had twisted and God obviously didn’t like what He saw.

Moses disobeyed God by striking the rock.  I can just imagine his frustration at the people boiling over.  However, in his anger, he makes a fatal mistake–literally.

Yet God is so gracious and so good and so loving He provides for His people despite their sins.

Moses did not believe God.  He probably remembered back in Exodus 17 where he had to strike the rock.

The punishment was strict.  But as we all know, those who know God are called to a higher standard. Can you imagine the standard Moses had to live up to?  A lot of pressure.  Yet because he was so close to God and a leader, his punishment reflects God’s expectations of those who know Him.  Great lesson for us as well.

Moses’s sin was small compared to the Israelites’ sins.  Yet not in God’s eyes.  God says in Deuteronomy 32:51 that Moses “broke faith” with Him and “did not uphold my [God’s] holiness amongst the Israelites.”  A warning to us all–what we consider as a small sin can be huge to God.

Moses pleads with God to let him go over to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 3:23-27) and when God says no, Moses blames the people.  Poor, poor Moses.  He has seen time and time again of God reversing His initial punishment, not ridding the land of the Israelites and not giving Miriam leprosy that he thinks for sure God will relent and reverse His position.  But God does not.  Our hearts bleed for him; yet, God remains good and gracious and kind and judging.  His ways, not ours.

The picture of Moses reflecting Jesus here is now tainted.  Moses struck twice; Jesus only once.