The People Complain
14 Then all the community lifted up their voices, and the people wept during that night. 2 And all the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and all the community said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt or in this desert! 3 Why did Yahweh bring us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little children will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 They said to each other, “Let us appoint a leader, and we will return to Egypt.”
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the assembly of the community of the Israelites. 6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, from the explorers of the land, tore their garments. 7 And they said to all the community of the Israelites, “The land that we went through to explore is an exceptionally good land. 8 If Yahweh delights in us, then he will bring us into this land, and he will give it to us, a land that is flowing with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against Yahweh, and you will not fear the people of the land, because they will be our food. Their protection has been turned from them; Yahweh is with us. You should not fear them.” 10 And all the community said to stone them with stones, but the glory of Yahweh appeared in the tent of assembly among the Israelites.
11 And Yahweh said to Moses, “How long until this people will despise me, and how long until they will not believe in me, and in all the signs that I have done in their midst? 12 I will strike them with disease, and I will dispossess them; I will make you into a greater and stronger nation than them.”
13 And Moses said to Yahweh, “Then the Egyptians will hear that you brought up this people from their midst in your power, 14 and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They heard that you, Yahweh, are in the midst of this people, that you are seen eye to eye, and your cloud is standing over them, and in a column of cloud you go before them by day and in a column of fire at night. 15 But if you destroy this people all at once, the nations that will have heard your message will say, 16 ‘Yahweh was unable to bring this people in the land that he swore by an oath, and he slaughtered them in the desert.’ 17 But now, please, let the power of my Lord be great, just has you spoke,
18 ‘Yahweh is slow to anger
and great of loyal love,
forgiving sin and rebellion;
but surely he leaves nothing unpunished,
visiting the sin of the fathers on the sons
to the third and fourth generations.’
19 Please forgive the sin of this people according to the greatness of your loyal love, just as you forgave this people, from Egypt until now.”
20 Yahweh said, “I have forgiven them according to your word; 21 but as I am alive, the glory of Yahweh will fill all the earth. 22 But because all the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the desert yet tested me these ten times and did not listen to my voice, 23 they will not see the land that I swore by oath to their ancestors, and all those who despised me will not see it. 24 But my servant Caleb, because another spirit was with him, he remained true after me, and I will bring him into the land that he entered, and his offspring will take possession of it. 25 And the Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys; tomorrow turn and set out for the desert by way of the Red Sea.”
26 And Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 27 “How long will I bear this evil community who are grumbling against me? I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites which they are making against me. 28 Say to them, ‘Surely as I live,’ declares Yahweh, ‘just as you spoke in my hearing, so I will do to you; 29 in this desert your corpses will fall, and all your counted ones, according to all your number, from twenty years old and above who grumbled against me. 30 You yourselves will not come into the land that I swore by oath to make you to dwell in it, but Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 But your little children, whom you said would be plunder, I will bring them, and they will know the land that you rejected. 32 But for you, all your corpses will fall in this desert. 33 And your children will be shepherds in the desert forty years, and you will bear your unfaithfulness until all your corpses have fallen in the desert. 34 According to the number of the days that you explored the land, forty days, a day for each year, you will bear your sins forty years, and you will know my opposition.’ 35 I, Yahweh, have spoken; I will surely do this to all this evil community who has banded together against me. In this desert they will come to an end, and there they will die.”
36 As for the men whom Moses sent to explore the land, who returned and made the community grumble against him by spreading a report over the land, 37 the men who spread the evil report of the land died by the plague before Yahweh. 38 But Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh lived from among the men who went to explore the land.
39 And Moses spoke words to all the Israelites, and the people mourned greatly. 40 They rose early in the morning and went to the top of the mount, saying, “Here we are. We will go up to the place that Yahweh said, because we have sinned.” 41 But Moses said, “Why are you going against the command of Yahweh? It will not succeed. 42 You should not go up because Yahweh is not in your midst; do not let yourselves be defeated in the presence of your enemies, 43 because the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you will fall by the sword; because you have turned back from Yahweh, and Yahweh will not be with you.” 44 But they dared to go to the top of the mountain, and the ark of the covenant of Yahweh and Moses did not depart from the midst of the camp. 45 So the Amalekites and the Canaanites who were living on the mountain descended, and they beat them down, up to Hormah.
17 and carrying for himself the cross, he went out to the place called The Place of a Skull (which is called Golgotha in Aramaic), 18 where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, and Jesus in the middle. 19 And Pilate also wrote a notice and placed it on the cross, and it was written: “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.” 20 So many of the Jews read this notice, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city. And it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The king of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, I am king of the Jews.’ ” 22 Pilate replied, “What I have written, I have written.”
23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his clothing and made four shares—for each soldier a share—and the tunic. (Now the tunic was seamless, woven from the top in a single piece.) 24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it apart, but cast lots for it, to see whose it will be,” so that the scripture would be fulfilled that says,
“They divided my garments among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”
Thus the soldiers did these things.
25 Now his mother and the sister of his mother, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene were standing near the cross of Jesus. 26 So Jesus, seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
Jesus Dies on the Cross
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that now at last everything was completed, in order that the scripture would be fulfilled, said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a branch of hyssop and brought it to his mouth. 30 Then when he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed,” and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.
31 Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was an important day), asked Pilate that their legs could be broken and they could be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus, after they saw he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water came out immediately. 35 And the one who has seen it has testified, and his testimony is true, and that person knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36 For these things happened in order that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not a bone of his will be broken.” 37 And again another scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”
Jesus Is Buried
38 And after these things, Joseph who was from Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus (but a secret one for fear of the Jews), asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate allowed it, so he came and took away his body. 39 And Nicodemus—the one who had come to him formerly at night—also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about a hundred pounds. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and wrapped it in strips of linen cloth with the fragrant spices, as is the Jews’ custom to prepare for burial. 41 Now there was a garden at the place where he was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one was yet buried. 42 So there, on account of the day of preparation of the Jews, because the tomb was close by, they buried Jesus.
1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt.
They do abominable deeds.
There is none who does good.
2 Yahweh looks down from heaven upon the children of humankind
to see whether there is one who has insight,
one who cares about God.
3 All have gone astray;
they are altogether corrupt.
There is not one who does good;
there is not even one.
4 All who do evil—do they not know,
they who eat my people as though they were eating bread?
They do not call on Yahweh.
5 There they are very fearful
because God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You would put to shame the plan of the poor,
because Yahweh is his refuge.
7 Oh that from Zion would come salvation for Israel!
When Yahweh returns the fortunes of his people,
Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be happy.
A Description of Those Who May Dwell with Yahweh
15 A psalm of David.
1 O Yahweh, who may reside in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy mountain?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right.
He who speaks honestly in his heart.
3 He does not slander with his tongue.
He does not harm his friend,
nor bring up a disgrace against his neighbor.
4 In his eyes a rejected one is contemptible,
but he honors those who respect Yahweh.
He takes an oath to his own injury and does not retract it.
5 He does not lend his money at interest,
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.
Regret and nostalgia can destroy lives. They are mirrored ideas with the same pitfalls: neither can change the past, and both keep us from living in the present. When we live wishfully rather than interacting with the present, we’re bound to miss out and hurt others. Since other people don’t necessarily share our feelings about the past, they feel less important to us here and now. And indeed, we’re making them less important. We’re concerned instead with how things could have been or used to be.
This is precisely what happens after the Israelites flee Egypt: “Then all the community lifted up their voices, and the people wept during that night. And all the children of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and all the community said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt or in this desert!’ ” (Num 14:1–2).
As usual with regret and nostalgia, these words were said in frustration but born out of fear: “Why did Yahweh bring us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little children will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt” (Num 14:3).
And their fear even takes them to the next level of disobedience against God’s will—they will overthrow Moses’ leadership: “They said to each other, ‘Let us appoint a leader, and we will return to Egypt’ ” (Num 14:4). Nostalgia is dangerous: it causes us to forget the wretchedness of the past and exchange it for fond memories. We begin to focus on the good things and drift away from obedience in the process. Regret, too, is dangerous, as we wish we had never ended the good times but kept on living the life that was never good for us to begin with.
This scene in Numbers illustrates a profound point: collective memory enables regret and nostalgia to create mob rule instead of God rule.
What memories are you holding too dearly? How are they holding you back from the life God has for you now?
Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord
Publisher: Lexham Press
Publication Date: 2012
This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.