Feasting with God #50
Why Not This Other Land?
The Destruction of Korah and His Rebellion (Num. 16:31-35)
Text: Numbers 16:13-14
13“Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also make yourself a prince over us? 14Moreover, you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up.”
It seems like the entire 40-year journey through the wilderness was nothing but complaining, complaining, and more complaining from the Israelites. Now, some from the tribe of Reuben and from the tribe of Levi rose up with a party of 250 men to overthrow Moses.
Notice how they complained. In the first promise God made about the Promised Land, he said, “I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 3:8). The description of this Promised Land certainly made it sound appealing. So these Reubenites certainly wanted such a land. But how they specifically wanted this fulfilled was in the land of Egypt itself. Moses brought them out of Egypt at the Lord’s direction, and they complained, “you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey”! Because they didn’t get what they wanted, they complain that they would prefer slavery in Egypt to the promise of God.
Compare how Jesus was received: on Palm Sunday he rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, and the people shouted joyfully, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt. 21:9). They recognized him as the Lord’s true prophet, the Son of David, the one who would bring salvation—much in the same way that the Israelites were pleased to follow Moses, another true prophet of the Lord, in all his directions and in his overthrow of the Egyptian enslavement.
If we track what Jesus did the following week in Jerusalem, he cleansed the temple, cursed a fig tree, made the chief priests and elders look like fools, told parables that called attention to the people’s unbelief and wickedness, stated that the people should pay taxes to Caesar and the oppressive Roman government, demonstrated the ignorance of the Pharisees, pronounced woes upon the Pharisees and Sadducees, lamented over Jerusalem and foretold the destruction of the temple and the end of the world, and declared that judgment would come upon the unbelievers. In short, Jesus made a lot of people angry, because he wouldn’t tell them what they wanted to hear.
Likewise, Moses, under the Lord’s direction, prescribed worship and laws for the people, focused the Israelites away from their selfish wishes and toward lives lived to God. The Reubenites probably had the added complaint that this man from the tribe of Levi (Moses) was leading them, those who were of the tribe of the oldest brother Reuben. They thought that they should be the ruling tribe, that they should have that right. They accused Moses of trying to blind them to what was really happening: “Will you put out the eyes of these men?”
We hear the same complaints today. “The Bible isn’t a science textbook.” “The God of the Old Testament was hateful and unmerciful.” “The Bible promotes slavery.” All these complaints ultimately come down to one: “God isn’t telling me what I want to hear.”
We have been promised a greater land than the physical region given to the nation of Israel. Our Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey, will surpass anything we can conceive. On this earth we are wandering as through a wilderness. What madness could overtake us to look at what is promised and instead say to God, “Why not give us this as our Promised Land instead?” Let’s not be so arrogant to think that we know what God should give us. Instead, simply have quiet, receptive faith.
At the end of the week that began with Palm Sunday Jesus was betrayed by those he had angered and brought to his death. But praise the Lord! That death was used by God as the means to accomplish the things he had promised. Although people want certain earthly things (the overthrow of this or that government figure, certain rights or authority, the message and teaching we want to hear), God provides far greater things. Through the death of his Son, he accomplished our eternal salvation, won for us a heavenly inheritance as sons of God.
Faith in this Savior, the reception of God’s grace for the eternal life won for us, that is the single greatest blessing we should seek from God—Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Through patient faith in God, he blesses us eternally, and also temporally, in ways we may never even expect. Have confidence in the blessed fact that God loves us and will care for us as he sees fit in his omniscience and omnipotence.
Dear Lord, we trust in your promises, and we know that you will fulfill them for us. Let us not be distracted by other things, our selfish wants and lusts. Instead, lead us to ever stronger faith in you, not pride or arrogance of ourselves. You have promised us eternal life on account of your Son’s sacrificial death and glorious resurrection from the dead. Give us what you have promised. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.