Numbers 14 – God loses His temper

Time in the Scriptures

Pray:  Ask for insight into the meaning of Scripture.

Our reading today is long. Skim Chapter 13 for background; don’t worry about names and places.

Read: Numbers 13:1-2,25-33; Numbers 14:1-25

The Jews fear the Canaanites more than they trust God. How would you characterize God’s response in 14:11-12?

Moses talks God out of destroying Israel. What are Moses’ arguments? What does Moses appeal to in trying to change God’s mind?

In this story, who appears to be wiser—God or Moses?

How do you understand the seeming difference between God in this story, where he is shown as vindictive and harsh, even foolish in his haste to punish Israel, and in Jesus’ teachings, where God is portrayed as wise and forgiving?

One way is to believe that God changed when he lived as Jesus; now, God understands us better than before. Some people have developed this into a system where God has changed five times in how to interact with humanity.

Another way is to read the Bible as being about our view of God: God revealed himself to people, who wrote down the revelation as they understood it. For example, Moses prayed with God, struggled with feelings of anger and vengeance, remembered that God was forgiving, and realized that God still loved his people even though there would be consequences to their decision to not enter the land.

Which of these interpretations do you agree with more often? Try to choose one and live within it. If you choose the first, you may have an easier job reading Scripture (you can treat it like a “play by play” of history), but you are left with a God who often appears foolish or inconsistent. If you choose the second, you need to always approach Scripture with an understanding that it tells us at least as much about the writer as it does about God.

Intercessory Prayer

Pray for people who view God as vindictive and harsh.

Caring through Action

Show the love of God to someone today. 

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