Numbers 20 Commentary

Numbers 20 Commentary

Miriam dies at Kadesh. It’s been a very long trip for her. We all remember the young Miriam cooperating with God to save baby Moses out of the Nile. She later on led the women in a praise song as the nation left Egypt. Next we shall mourn the death of Miriam’s brother Aaron – the High priest. But we have a couple of items in between.

The nation on the move once again encounters water problems. The LORD provides for the people but only at a huge cost to both Moses and Aaron. Instead of speaking to the rock, Moses says and does stuff that brings them the same punishment as the rest of the people. God’s standards are rigidly high!

The land of promise is nearly there but we have Edom in between. Ancient hostilities between the two brothers (Jacob and Esau) are renewed. Frightened Israel must take another route. We would expect Israel to easily sort out Edom having seen what the LORD did to Egypt. But years of doubt and importantly the recent issues of spies have left Israel devoid of faith and confidence. So the approaching military machinery of Edom was enough trouble to make them detour.

A life of constant doubt, a life of short memory, a life of lack of appreciation of the mighty works of the LORD, a life of fear even when the presence of the LORD is visibly present, it is a life that poorly prepares the saint for real battles. Faith isn’t a light switch you easily turn on or off at will. It must be developed over time as we live a life reflecting the victories of the LORD over battles on a daily basis. These could be battles in small things like telling the truth or saying thanks to the LORD for a meal provided.

The message Moses sent to Edom reminds us of Jacob sending messages to Esau as they prepared to face each other. In a moment of great fear Jacob had turned to the LORD in prayer and the situation was saved. But this Jacob has transformed into doubt and fear. He no longer knows the character of his God.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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