Bible reading for May 11.
DISQUALIFIED. Moses' sister Miriam dies and is buried (v 1). And then the people quarrel again with Moses about water shortage (vv 2-13). Sometimes we have legitimate needs but approach them in the wrong way, as they did with quarreling and strife (James 4:1-2). Previously, Moses had struck the rock and God made the water come forth (Ex 17:5-6). But this time he was to speak to the rock. Moses either was not listening to what God said, or he desired to make things more dramatic, but anyway, he struck the rock with the words, "Shall we bring water for you out of this rock?" (v 10). It was a public grandstanding as well as robbing God of the glory due him alone. He did not treat the Lord as holy. And in this incident he forfeited his right to lead the people into the land. God's appointed leaders are not above accountability, and their authority is never absolute.
CHRIST THE ROCK. There was important symbolism here, as well. If the Rock represented Christ (1 Cor 10:4) and Christ was to be "struck" (i.e., put to death) only once (Heb 9:27-28), then Moses marred a precious symbol of Christ. Forgiveness has been accomplished by Christ's death once for all (Heb 10:10-13), and so, anything else we might need we should simply request. Christ will never suffer to be struck again. This judgment upon Moses does not mean that he didn't inherit eternal life -- there's nothing in the Bible to insinuate that. He did forfeit, however, the privilege of leading the people into the promised land. At Jesus' transfiguration (Matt 17:3) Moses appears in glory with the Lord. And so, he was already in the presence of the Lord, and then he was privileged to enter and see the land. More importantly, he was privileged to see the Lamb, who is Lord of the land and our true Inheritance.
ALSO in this chapter: Israel avoids conflict with the Edomites, who were descendants of Esau dwelling in the land that God gave them (vv 14-22). And Aaron dies and is buried on Mount Hor (vv 23-29).
"Mankind will say, 'Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.'" (Psalm 58:11)
TRUE JUDGMENT. This word for "gods" or "mighty ones" is used here for human judges, as in the court system. As justices of the law they were to represent God in their rulings. When there was corruption in that process -- receiving bribes, being biased, showing favoritism, overlooking idolatry or injustice, etc. -- this was viewed as a very serious breach. It is one thing to break the law as a criminal, it is another and more serious thing to be a judge (or ruler, or religious leader, or law-enforcer) and do that. David calls down God's judgment against these judges who perverted God's standards of righteousness in the land.
LONGING FOR JUSTICE. In considering the judgment coming on nearby cities, Abraham once said to the Lord, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" (Gen 18:25) God always does what is right. There is a deep longing within all of us for justice and fairness. We may not like it when we are the objects of judgment, but we know that this is needed if there is ever to be fairness in the world. God's righteousness, and his righteousness exercised in judgment, is a key theme in Psalms (e.g., Ps 9:7-8; 89:14). Sometimes we think and speak more of God's attributes of love and mercy and faithfulness than we do of his righteousness and judgment. But we must realize that if God is all-loving, but not at the same time all-righteous and all-powerful, then he is not really God at all. If we do not rejoice in his justice, then we have a deficient understanding of God.
FINDING STRENGTH. Several of these psalms, beginning with Psalm 52, date back to David's period of exile under King Saul. Even when he is under surveillance (Ps 59), he feels like he's being watched by a pack of wild dogs circling for the kill. But his confidence was in the Lord: "But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress" (v 16).
Image credit: Photo of Multnomah Falls (Oregon) by Casey Horner on Unsplash
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
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