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The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of Fayette Bible Church in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the March 21 reading. Select here for a new reading date:


BibleTrack Summary: March 21
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Numbers 14-15; Psalms 90    Listen Podcast

 

These are some angry people! (Numbers 14:1-10)

1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
8 If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
9 Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.
10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.

When you look for really big moments in Israel's history, here you have one of the biggest...if not THE biggest. As a result of this day's activities, a whole generation of Israelites are condemned to physical death because of this incident of rebellion. This is a remarkable rebellion. Try to put yourself into their shoes; they had been in the wilderness living in tents for over a year, looking forward to their move into their promised land. Now, after the return of the spies in Numbers 13 (see notes), they discover that someone already lives there - big giant people who won't want to move out so the Hebrews can move in. Obviously they're disappointed...yea...even devastated. Okay...okay...it's all right to be disappointed, but what you do after disappointing news is very important.

These Hebrews begin to murmur against Moses, Aaron and God. Joshua and Caleb try to explain that the presence of people living in Canaan already is a good discovery; in verse 9 they point out that because of their presence, "bread" (i.e. sustenance provisions) exists in Canaan to assist the Hebrews in their new habitation. However, that argument doesn't fly with these Hebrew rebels. Then comes the deal breaker; they determine to appoint their own leader to take them back to Egypt. In addition, this angry mob of Hebrews begin to organize a stoning to take care of Joshua and Caleb for good. Why? They objected to Joshua and Caleb's positive report and recommendation to obey God and proceed to Canaan despite the presence of its giant inhabitants. Question: Is this an attempt to substitute a democracy in place of rule by God (a theocracy)?

God shows up in the nick of time (Numbers 14:11-25)

11 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
12 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
13 And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)
14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,
16 Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.
17 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
18 The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
20 And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:
21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.
22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.
25 (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.

This angry mob of Hebrews would have pursued their mutiny had the "Glory of the Lord" not shown up in their midst. God tells Moses that he's ready to just wipe out the whole congregation and start all over with a whole new batch of Hebrews. Hey! Doesn't this discussion sound familiar. Notice what God told Moses after the calf-worshipping incident back in Exodus 32:9-10, see notes, "And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation." Now look at what he says here in Numbers 14:12, "I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they." Once again, Moses pleads for them just as he did back when Aaron made them the golden calf.

I think it is worth noting the rationale Moses uses with God in verses 13-16 where he points out to God the negative publicity God himself will receive among the heathen nations if he wipes the Hebrews out here. Moses seems quite comfortable negotiating with God on this occasion. So here's the compromise deal: No death to all Hebrews right now, but all those men who rebelled will die in the wilderness without reaching Canaan. One exception is mentioned here, Caleb, and another, Joshua, a few verses later in verse 38 (see below).

Notice that the carefully-selected words of Moses in verse 18 include a quotation from the text of the second of the ten commandments...one that expresses a principle of God's judgment.

As a matter of fact, this principle is mentioned yet again by God himself in his appearance to Moses in Exodus 34.

Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
Exodus 34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

By quoting God here, Moses seems to be saying that he understands that there will be consequences that very well should extend to future generations, but please do not wipe out the Hebrew nation completely. Moses' bargaining chip here seems to be that God had never mentioned previously that the consequences of rebellion would include extermination...just extended chastisement. Moses follows this statement in verse 19 with "Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now." In other words, "God, you never told us that rebellion would result in extermination. Therefore, please punish us according to your previously-stated decrees."

So, how did Moses' negotiations with God work out here? God's renegotiated decree is found in verses 20-21, " And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD." Whew! What a relief; the Hebrews can live after all! Okay, after dodging that bullet, let's see what the punishment will be; that's found in the next two verses (22-23) - no rest in their new homeland for this whole generation of men.

Now, for the that's-not-fair crowd, let's notice what God said in verses 22-23, "Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:" God makes a point that this huge punishment on the whole generation of men is not simply because of this incident, but rather a ten-event accumulation.

Let's take a look at these TEN occasions of Israel's rebellion:

  1. Israel's distrust and rebuke of Moses at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:11-12, see notes)
  2. At Marah when they were thirsty and murmured against Moses (Exodus 15:23-24, see notes)
  3. They murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness of Sin when they were hungry (Exodus 16:2, see notes)
  4. They dismissed God's command regarding keeping manna overnight (Exodus 16:20, see notes)
  5. They also dismissed God's command on gathering manna on the sabbath (Exodus 16:27, see notes)
  6. They murmured against Moses at Rephidim when they were again thirsty (Exodus 17:1-3, see notes)
  7. The golden-calf incident at Horeb (Exodus 32:7, see notes);
  8. The "fire from the LORD at Taberah because of their complaining (Numbers 11:1, see notes)
  9. Another episode of complaining about hunger (Numbers 11:4, see notes)
  10. The mutiny attempt after the return of the spies (Numbers 14, see above)

As you can see, this generational death sentence was well deserved for repeated rebellion - not just for one act of defiance against God.

AS A RESULT OF GOD'S DECREE ON THIS DAY, ISRAEL MAKES A U-TURN BACK INTO THE WILDERNESS AT GOD'S COMMAND. At this point in time, God commands Moses in verse 25, "To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea." This begins the 38+ years of Israel's moving from camp to camp in the wilderness waiting for this generation of men who rejected God on this occasion to die off. The official decree and specifics are found beginning in verse 26 (see below).

God's official decree given to Moses and Aaron (Numbers 14:26-38)

26 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.
28 Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,
30 Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.
31 But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
32 But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.
33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.
34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
35 I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.
36 And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land,
37 Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD.
38 But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.

Forty years in the wilderness is the penalty for their disobedience. In a casual read, it's not clear whether the decree (verse 29) means that all the Hebrews, men and women, twenty years of age and older will die in the wilderness, or just the men. However, if you stick with the exact wording, it says that just the men were held accountable. Pardon me for conjecturing, but I just can't imagine a rebellion against leadership of this magnitude without the Hebrew women being right there in the thick of it stomping their feet and issuing their own set of decrees...if to no one else, at least to their own husbands. However, based upon scriptures found here and in Deuteronomy 1-2 (see notes), it appears conclusive that only the fighting men counted in the census above age 20 would die off over the forty-year period (except Joshua and Caleb). That being the case, this decree did not apply to Levites or women. See the article entitled "The Canaan Spies and the Forty Years" to the right for a more complete explanation. But finally, a day for a year - that's the time that is to lapse; the spies spent forty days spying out Canaan and it will be forty years of travel before the Hebrews will reach it.

Oh...and what about the 10 spies who brought about this rebellion? Notice verse 37, "Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD." The Hebrew word ("mag-gay-faw´") translated "plague" in that verse is sometimes translated blow or slaughter. It appears from this verse that these infamous 10 were immediately stricken at this time as an immediate evidence of God's wrath.

Incidentally, the best Canaan proposition the people ever had was that outlined in Exodus 23 (see notes). In that passage God had promised to send an angel before them into Canaan to clear the land. However, after the golden-calf incident of Exodus 32 (see notes), God withdrew that provision of the angel preceding them into the land in Exodus 33:2-3 (see notes). After that incident, Moses negotiated with God to get God's presence to accompany them in Exodus 33:14 (see notes). Now, however, the people have rebelled once again, delaying their entry into Canaan for another 38+ years.

Israel: We've changed our minds; we'll go right now! (Numbers 14:39-45)

39 And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.
40 And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned.
41 And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.
42 Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.
43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the LORD, therefore the LORD will not be with you.
44 But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.
45 Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.

You can imagine that they took the news of their impending deaths badly, especially after witnessing the immediate deaths of the ten spies who brought back the evil report. By the next day, they've changed their minds. They decide to go into Canaan and fight against the Amalekites and other Canaanites, but Moses warns them that it's too late; God will not be with them. Moses is very clear with his words in verse 42, "Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies." They once again ignore the warning of Moses - big ol' defeat. There's a lesson here. Saying, "I'm sorry" does not necessarily restore circumstances back to the way they were before the disobedience. Let's face it: It's better not to disobey in the first place.

The narrative of Israel's wanderings that began back in Numbers 10:11 (see notes) comes to an end. Numbers 10-14 serve to give us the circumstances whereby Israel's arrival in Canaan was delayed by nearly 39 years.

Offering specification for after you reach Canaan (Numbers 15:1-21)

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you,
3 And will make an offering by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the LORD, of the herd, or of the flock:
4 Then shall he that offereth his offering unto the LORD bring a meat offering of a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of oil.
5 And the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering shalt thou prepare with the burnt offering or sacrifice, for one lamb.
6 Or for a ram, thou shalt prepare for a meat offering two tenth deals of flour mingled with the third part of an hin of oil.
7 And for a drink offering thou shalt offer the third part of an hin of wine, for a sweet savour unto the LORD.
8 And when thou preparest a bullock for a burnt offering, or for a sacrifice in performing a vow, or peace offerings unto the LORD:
9 Then shall he bring with a bullock a meat offering of three tenth deals of flour mingled with half an hin of oil.
10 And thou shalt bring for a drink offering half an hin of wine, for an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
11 Thus shall it be done for one bullock, or for one ram, or for a lamb, or a kid.
12 According to the number that ye shall prepare, so shall ye do to every one according to their number.
13 All that are born of the country shall do these things after this manner, in offering an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
14 And if a stranger sojourn with you, or whosoever be among you in your generations, and will offer an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD; as ye do, so he shall do.
15 One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the LORD.
16 One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.
17 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
18 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land whither I bring you,
19 Then it shall be, that, when ye eat of the bread of the land, ye shall offer up an heave offering unto the LORD.
20 Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough for an heave offering: as ye do the heave offering of the threshingfloor, so shall ye heave it.
21 Of the first of your dough ye shall give unto the LORD an heave offering in your generations.

The narrative of Israel's travels that began in Numbers 10:11 (see notes) is interrupted here for some legal content. Leviticus 1-7 (see notes) presents the basic standards of offerings for the Hebrews, paying close attention to those sacrifices that deal with the issues of sin and guilt. The offerings here in Numbers 15 are special in that they relate more to the desire of the Hebrew Believer for spontaneous, grateful response to his personal relationship with God. Notice that the wording in verse 3 seems to indicate an individual willingness. Much of what we see here is seen also in Leviticus 1-7 (see notes).

The "hin" of verse 5 was an Egyptian measurement equal to about a gallon. You will notice in verses 14-16 that no differentiation in these sacrifices is to be made with regard to the non-Hebrew stranger. The same procedures apply to all, a point made again down in verse 29-31.

What about sins of ignorance? (Numbers 15:22-31

22 And if ye have erred, and not observed all these commandments, which the LORD hath spoken unto Moses,
23 Even all that the LORD hath commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the LORD commanded Moses, and henceforward among your generations;
24 Then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour unto the LORD, with his meat offering, and his drink offering, according to the manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering.
25 And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance: and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD, for their ignorance:
26 And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel, and the stranger that sojourneth among them; seeing all the people were in ignorance.
27 And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering.
28 And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him.
29 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them.
30 But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
31 Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.

A distinction is made here between deliberate and unintentional sin. Sacrifices are specified for the unintentional sin, but verses 30-31 make it plain that the one who commits intentional sin is to be "cut off from among his people." What does that mean? This phrase (or a variation) is used a lot in the Pentateuch. At a minimum, "cut off" means to be kicked out of the Tribe of Israel. What follows the statement in this passage would indicate that it means something more than that (see the summary on Numbers 15:32-36 that follows). According to the notes found in the Jewish Study Bible "that soul shall utterly be cut off," is explained as follows:

"Karet," the cutting off of a person, is a punishment enacted by the divine. What constitutes the punishment is not defined here but can be gleaned from other biblical passages which indicate punishments affecting both the sinner and his progeny (e.g., Mal. 2:12; Ps. 109:13). Traditional Jewish interpretation includes childlessness, early death, and/or the death of the soul together with the body at the time of death.

By the way, you will notice (as mentioned in the previous section) that one law applied to Hebrews and "strangers." This is seen in verse 14-16 and again here in verses 29-31.

You work on the Sabbath; you die! (Numbers 15:32-36)

32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.
33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
34 And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
35 And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.

Here's the deal: There was a plainly-stated law in Exodus 35:2-3 (see notes), "Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day." Exodus 31:14 (see notes) had previously decreed, "Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people." What is not specified in either passage is who does the execution, God or a delegation of Hebrew executioners.

So...here's this man gathering a little fire wood. What's the harm in that...just because it's Saturday? The people who found him don't know what to think about it either, so they brought him before Moses and Aaron. He apparently had not actually kindled the fire yet. Surely they were thinking over the intentional/unintentional decree just given to them in verses 24-31; they're just not certain what should be done with this sabbath-fire-wood gatherer. So they lock him up for the time being to consult God. The decree comes from God: Stone him to death! Let me say, if you are one who feels bound to keep the Law of Moses, don't slight Commandment number four regarding the Sabbath day. Obviously it's a very important one. For additional information regarding the Jewish practice of observing the Sabbath and how that relates to Believers today, click here to read the article entitled, "The Sabbath Day."

Fringe is in! (Numbers 15:37-41

37 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:
39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:
40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.
41 I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.

This ancient fashion statement is still the rage. Orthodox Jews are still adamant about observing this law today. The Hebrew word for "fringe" is "tzitzit," and that's what today's Jews call it. As a matter of fact, this law is particularly significant in light of the two occasions where the people just wanted to touch the "tzitzit" of Jesus' garment in Matthew 9:20 (see notes) and Matthew 14:36 (see notes). This fringe from the garment was considered very sacred; after all, it was decreed by God himself to be worn in this very passage.

Here's an extended explanation of this "fringe" included in the notes of the Jewish Study Bible:

The fringes or tassels on the corners of the outer garments call the Israelites to action regarding the fulfillment of the commandments. Remembering, Heb “zakhar,” is often a verb of action rather than simply thought (e.g., Gen. 8:1; 30:22; Exod. 12:14). In antiquity, fringes were common on Canaanite and Mesopotamian dress. Prophets from the Babylonian city of Mari legitimated their oracles before the king by sending a fringe from their garment, which is a symbolic way of sending part of themselves, like a signature. The imprinting of fringes on clay tablets, like the touching of the fringe of the prayer shawl to the Torah today when one is called to the Torah during its reading, is a way of verifying or endorsing the written document. Like garments and hair, fringes are considered part of the individual’s identity, and by giving them to the ruler, a person is pledging his loyalty. It is no accident that the violet–blue wool cord that must be attached to the fringes is identical to the cord that hangs from the priest’s headdress (Exod. 28:37). The tzitzit on the garments of Israelites identifies them as being holy to God and symbolically connects them to the priests. Thereby, Israelites pledge their loyalty to God as well as to the priests who oversee the laws (cf. the nonspecific garment fringes called “gedilim” [lit. “twisted threads”] in Deut. 22:12). Modern prayer shawls, tallit (sing.), and the small tallit, worn daily under the shirt by observant Jews, no longer require a violet–blue cord for their tzitzit. That aspect of the commandment was suspended in talmudic times because of the scarcity and expense of the blue dye derived from the murex snail. Most likely because of the reference "to observe all My commandments," this paragraph came to be recited daily as part of the Shema prayer (see Deut. 6:4).

It is worth noting that these five verses are included in the Jewish Shema along with Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (see notes), Deuteronomy 11:13-21 (see notes). Observant Jews down through the centuries to today have worn a leather wallet (called a Tefillin) on the arm and head that contain these prayers. Today they wear these during prayer time, but the Pharisees seemed to have worn them all the time. These verses are also encased in a Mezuzah (a small box) and placed on the door post of a traditional Jewish home. Jews feel that this practice is mandated in Deuteronomy 6:8-9 (see notes).

Moses prays an anguished prayer (Psalms 90)

A Prayer of Moses the man of God.
1 Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
3 Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.
4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
5 Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
6 In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
7 For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.
8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
9 For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.
10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
11 Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.
12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
13 Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.
14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.
16 Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.
17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

This is the only Psalm that is specifically subtitled as belonging to Moses. While it is not possible to say with certainty, this seems a likely occasion that Moses prayed this prayer before God - especially in light of verse 7, "For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled." The lesson is simple: Accept God's providence and move on in His direction.

Perhaps Peter was thinking of Psalms 90:4 when he wrote his second epistle, "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." Peter says in II Peter 3:8 (see notes), "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

Speaking of years, Moses comments on the average life span in verse 10 when he says, "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." That's 70 to 80 years old, on the average. Interestingly enough, Moses lived to be 120 and Aaron 122.


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner