September 7, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Numbers 17-20
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Context: Last week we read of how the Israelites opposed Aaron’s leadership. In chapter 17, the Lord unequivocally confirms Aaron’s position as high priest, appointed by the Lord. Aaron’s rod, a dead piece of wood which budded with life, was one of the three items kept in the ark of the covenant. The rebellion against Aaron, was also a rebellion against the Lord. It occurred within the Levite tribe. Therefore, responsibility for the rebellion laid in the hands of the Levite tribe. The priests and Levites were instructed on how they were to live. They were set apart from the rest of the Israelites. Chapter 19 presents an unusual offering. This offering was to be used if people sinned while on the march, since they could not always stop and set up the tabernacle. In chapter 20, we can see the results of failing to obey the Lord. Because Moses did not obey the Lord’s instructions, he was not going to lead the people into the Promised Land. Moses requested that the king of Edom allow the Israelites to pass through. Was this necessary? Moses was to be following the Lord which guided their journey by a cloud. Perhaps Moses should have waited on the Lord’s guidance, something many of us often need to do. Today’s reading ends with the death of Aaron and the anointing of a new high priest.
World History: Moses, when he smote the rock, had been leading the Israelites for almost 40 years. Although only a few events are recorded about what happened during that time, there is no doubt that the Israelites were not the easiest group to lead. Likely, there was copious amounts of whining and complaining, as there was before their 40-year journey and during the occasions that are recorded.