Friday after the Feast of Whitsunday
Scripture: Numbers 27:12-23 (NKJV)
12 Now the LORD said to Moses: “Go up into this Mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the children of Israel. 13 And when you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was gathered. 14 For in the Wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My command to hallow Me at the waters before their eyes.” (These are the waters of Meribah, at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.) 15 Then Moses spoke to the LORD, saying: 16 “Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, 17 who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.” 18 And the LORD said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; 19 set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. 20 And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. 21 He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the LORD for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him—all the congregation.” 22 So Moses did as the LORD commanded him. He took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. 23 And he laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.
The context of this narrative helps to greatly enhance its message because just prior to this text we read of Zelophehad’s daughters’ request for an inheritance in the land (verses 1-11). This in conjunction with the Lord’s words to Moses about his own exclusion from the land (verses 12-14) is important. In the case of Zelophehad’s daughters, provisions are made for exceptions and irregularities in the inheritance laws, but there is no provision for Moses. His sin at the waters of Meribah at Kadesh (20:1-13) was always before him.
These facts and the Balaam narrative recorded in Numbers 22-24 help drive home how seriously God takes His Word and adherence to it, as well as faith in Him. Moses’ sin was striking the rock with his staff when the Lord had not mentioned any such striking with the staff, but directed him to simply command water to come forth by the power of God’s command.
While our text shows God demands strict adherence to His Word, it also demonstrates His tremendous mercy toward those who look to Him in faith. Though Moses is not permitted to enter the promised land because of his stumbling, he is allowed to see it, as well as have the honor of commissioning his successor who would lead the people across the Jordan.
While the Lord demands faithfulness from His chosen because He is a jealous God, He is far greater in showing abundant mercy and grace. This is clear from the cases referenced above, and especially in the sending of His Son to atone for our many failures to be faithful to Him.