And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down.
For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.
After almost a year at Mt. Sinai… after the giving of the Law and the construction of the Tabernacle, the anointing of Priests and dedication of the Holy things… the people set out. Everything starts well – the people break camp as instructed, they march in the exact order that God commanded. The Levites comply with every instruction of how to transport the tent and the holy things.
The people complain… And everything goes downhill from there. Today’s reading ends with Moses’ own family turning against him and the Lord.
What happened? Their eyes turned inward on their unhappy circumstances. Self-pity crept in – which led to self-justification – which led to great anger from God.
This section of Scripture is deeply sad to me – mainly because I see the same sin patterns in my own life. When I complain, the ungratefulness in my heart is revealed. A thankless heart is a great sin – but thankfully… we serve a God who longs for our repentance.
At the very end of today’s reading, we see Miriam and Aaron conspiring against Moses. They were jealous of his special standing before God and deserved to die because of it, but God spared them – because of Moses’ intercession.
Moses points forward to Jesus – who lives to continually make intercession for us. The book of Hebrews teaches that Jesus is greater than Moses (Hebrews 3), and it also teaches that Jesus is our High Priest…
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Lord, please forgive me when I complain of my circumstances – belittling your sacrifice for me. Help me to pry my eyes off of myself and turn them toward you – my great High Priest. Please Lord, have mercy on me.