NUMBERS 14:1-15:16 | MARK 14:53-72 | PSALM 53:1-6 | PROVERBS 11:4
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17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.’ 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
This was how Moses reasoned with God when the people rebelled to go up into the “promised land.”
Despite all the good reports that had been brought back from the exploratory trip to Canaan, there were also other reports that soon circulated among the people about how there were giant-like natives in the land. And so the Israelites once again did what was now becoming a bad habit: they doubted in God’s plan and provision for them; they began to grumble about their prospects; they openly rebelled against Moses and Aaron; and they demanded that a new leader be elected who might take them back to slavery in Egypt!
Such was the state of affairs of the Hebrew children. But even as soon as they were wont to rebel, the people were also quick to regret their ways and to show remorse for it. But God had spoken: for their doubting and rebelling they were to wander for forty years in the desert. Just like that!
Yet, there are others who would indeed enter the promised land, chief among them being Joshua and Caleb, the two young men who had diligently conducted the reconnaissance mission into Canaan and had brought back promising reports. To these people, God gives special instructions on how to conduct themselves in their soon-to-be adopted homeland.
Turning next to our reading in Mark, we see Jesus brought before the Sanhedrin, the religious council of the day, where he is charged and condemned for blasphemy. Yes, that is his crime. This man who lived and walked among them had the audacity to say to them that he was the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God, also known as the Son of Man. How dare this man make such a claim!
But woe was unto all these high-minded, law-abiding leaders—would that they had listened long enough to understand, nay, to recognize and accept their Messiah who stood before them!
Because not only did the respected leaders disown Jesus, Jesus’ very own beloved disciple, Peter, does the same. Only hours before Peter had vehemently vowed that he would stand by Jesus no matter what, and yet, not before the day is done, Peter denies knowledge and association with Jesus not once or even twice, but three times over.
He says plainly, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” What woe must have been unto him!
Next, we turn to our reading in the Psalms, and find David uttering these words:
6 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When God restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
That verse above is a cry that David, the Psalmist, makes for the longing to see his salvation, i.e., the Messiah. Yes, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad indeed, but that was not what Israel did when the Messiah did come to them. Surely, woe was unto them!
Finally, a verse from the Book of Proverbs, in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, reminds us that:
4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.