Numbers 18-20: Complaining and Faith

Devotionals > Old Testament > Numbers > Numbers 18-20: Complaining and Faith

Numbers 18-20: Complaining and Faith

March 8, 2020


Numbers 18-20Psalm 55Matthew 23:25-39Romans 6:1-14

Numbers 18-20:

The chapters begin with a reaffirmation of the priestly role which had so recently been challenged. Aaron and the Levites have a highly significant role, and chapters 18 and 19 reaffirm this in various ways that are not only core to the identity of Israel, but central to the honor of God as holy before their eyes.

Chapter 20 begins with what must have been sadness for Moses: the death of Miriam (20:1). Barely is she dead, before God’s people are complaining again (20:2-5). Perhaps Numbers could be renamed the book of complaining? The results of the complaints are more bitter than the bitter water about which they had once complained and the lack of water about which they now complain.

Moses and Aaron are driven to their knees in supplication, seeking the face of God, and answered with his glory (20:6). Moses is told to take his staff, the staff with which he had performed miracles in Pharaoh’s court, and speak to the rock which would then flow with water (20:7-9). Instead he strikes the rock, and that twice (20:10-11), and as a consequence he and Aaron will not enter the land (20:12). This seems unbelievably harsh, but the explanation is given immediately: Faith. “Because you did not believe in me” (20:12).

They are a people who were rescued by grace, and entrance into the Promised Land only comes through faith. Edom refuses to help Israel (20:14-21), an action which is surprising giving their historic relationship (Genesis 25:21-26, 30), will be repeated again later in biblical history with calamitous consequences (see the book of Obadiah). Aaron does indeed not enter the Promised Land (20:22-29). Be warned, beloved, not to complain against God, and be encouraged to believe the promises of God to enter the Promised Land.


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.

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