Ever watch a movie and know that a certain character must stay alive because, if not, the movie would end in about 12 minutes? Well, you'd think the people would have gotten the point after what happened in yesterday's reading. But I guess then there'd be no need for the rest of the Bible.
You'll see what I mean.
- Each tribe is represented by a staff.
- Was God sure this would stop the people's complaining? They just had another episode the day after watching those people that opposed Moses die.
- There's a sense that God says, "I will calm down" the Israelites. This is the same calming that God did to the waters for Noah when the flood was over.
- Aaron's staff sprouts. This illustrates God's choosing (Verse 5). Aaron's staff is to be kept with the covenant as a warning. No one else will be able to approach the covenant. So, does Aaron keep it just in case he needs to remind everyone?
- I'm not sure in what sense they are "lost." They know where the land God promised them is; it has already been explored. Are they spiritually lost? Are they missing direction?
- The Levites are given responsibility to help care for the tent. They are not to go in with the priests, but they are charged to work for them.
- The offerings are for the priests and the tithes are for the Levites. This is their way of being compensated for their work. They are not given land as their own as the other tribes.
- This is a royal wedding psalm. There are several theories as to whose wedding it was written for.
- It has often been used to point to Christ. Hebrews 1:8-9 quotes it in such a way (See Psalm 45:6-7).
- On a personal note, reading this psalm confirmed to Gloria and I that we should get married.
You've heard the back and forth:
Friend 1: How are you?
Friend 2: I can't complain.
Friend 1: I bet you could.
Friend 2: Yes, but no one would listen.
Apparently, that isn't always true. God heard the complaining of the people. God became angry because of the people's complaining. Of course, we often complain about work-related things or the weather or how the government is working (or not working).
What about church? Do we complain about church-related?
To be sure, I'm not convinced what is described in Numbers that happened to the people will happen to us modern day complainers. But there's something to be learned by their complaining.
When we complain, and let's make a distinction between complaining and faithful, constructive criticism, we put ourselves at the center of ministry. Complaining puts our needs above what God has called us to do. When we complain, we take our eyes off what God is asking of us in order to get what we want.
I'm sure you've heard your share of church complaining. What good has it done? God thought getting the Israelites to stop complaining was worth his time. I wonder if we should, too.