How can we receive God’s grace?
--40 year journey that showed Israel’s sin and God’s mercy-
Numbers 17:1-13New International Version (NIV)
The LORD said to Moses,
"Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff. On the staff of Levi write Aaron's name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe.Place them in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Testimony, where I meet with you. 5 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron’s staff was among them. 7 Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the covenant law.
8 The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. 9 Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the Lord’s presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each of the leaders took his own staff.10 The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” 11 Moses did just as the Lord commanded him.12 The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost!13 Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die. Are we all going to die?”
The Israelites were chosen by God. As Abraham was promised by God, blessings were given to obedience and disobedience caused the Israelites to suffer until they realized their wrong and repented. Whenever the Israelites disobeyed God, He used different nations around the Israelites to bring suffering to them until they repented.
For physical needs, Jacob took his family into Egypt. However, this caused the Israelites to become slaves to the Egyptians and eventually the Israelites called for their God to help them. God then sent Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and take them to the promised land.
On the 38th year of wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites once again faced the promised land and this is where another incident occurred near Golah. We witness God’s direct intervention and punishment.
The scripture today spoke about the 12 staff to make sure the 2nd generation understood their relationship with God and relationship with each of the tribes.
After the staves were put into the holy tent and a day had passed, Aaron’s staff had sprouted and even had fruits on it. This staff was then placed in front of the tabernacle to show to the other tribes of this direct intervention by God to quiet the complaints from the other tribes.
This showed that God can bring life in the presence of death and that He alone can give authority to anyone he desires. And once people recognize God’s authority in those he has chosen, he will show his love and presence to them.
1. God condemns sin but for those that seek him, he shows his mercy.
1) The rebellious are condemned.
2) Signs to show his grace.
2. It is by grace that Jesus Christ was sent to us.
3. What we must do.
Just because we have been given God’s grace, we can’t just commit sin (Romans 6:15). We need to put our effort to understand God’s will and thus turn away from sin. Remember that our standards are not God’s standards. God wants our complete obedience.
1. We are all rebels. However, by the grace of God, He sent his one and only son, Jesus Christ, to save us from continuing on the path to condemnation. Just as the fruits grew from Aaron’s staff, we too have been given a second life.
2. Although we do not have the opportunity to see the miracle of Aaron’s staff, if we pay close attention to our lives, we see God’s miracle all around us. For this, we must put our full effort to give thanks and praise God.
3. God showed this miracle of Aaron’s staff to the Israelites after 38 years wandering in the wilderness, filled with grief and despair. As they witnessed the miracle of the staff, they gained strength to continue on to the promised land and follow God’s guidance. We too have moments of feeling weak and helpless and full of despair to the point that we just want to give up. It is at these moments we must rise up and be shown in the light. Have confidence that once you allow God to guide you and entrust yourself to him, he will hold on to you with his right hand and he won’t let go.
4. Have you ever felt that the temptation from Satan is to strong to the point that you have given in to the temptation? If so, look to the Bible which is evidence of God’s miracles and repent and go before the gracious God.