An Act of Disobedience…the People Deciding Numbers 13:1-20:13, cont’d.
Numbers 13:1-14:39 The Investigative Reconnaissance (Kadeshbarnea), cont’d.
Numbers 14:1-10-The Negative Reaction
Numbers 14:1-10-Now the people again grumbled against Moses and Aaron and talked about appointing another leader and returning to Egypt.
Numbers 14:11-30-The Judgment Passed
Numbers 14:11-19-The LORD says that He will destroy the people and give Moses another people to lead that will become an even greater nation. But Moses appeals to God’s honor and says that the Egyptians would hear about it and say that He had not been powerful enough to do what He had said (:15-17). He also appeals to His nature and says that He is a forgiving God and pleads for Him to forgive the people at this juncture even as He has done in the past (:18-19).
Numbers 14:20-30-The LORD says that He will not destroy the people. However, none of those who were among the people that left Egypt (from 20 years old and upward) will enter the Promised Land...except Caleb and Joshua (:30,38; cf. 14:6-15). God says that they had tested Him ten times.
14:22 these ten times. (1) At the Red Sea (Exod. 14:11-12), (2) at Marah (Exod. 15:23-24), (3) in the wilderness of Sin (Exod. 16:2), (4) and (5) in connection with manna (Exod. 16:20 and 16:27), (6) at Rephidim (Exod. 17:1-3), (7) at Horeb (Exod. 32:7), (8) at Taberah (Num. 11:1), (9) the complaint of the mixed multitude (Num. 11:4), and (10) at Kadesh-barnea (Num. 13).
The Ryrie Study Bible, 14:22 footnote, p. 230
Numbers 14:31-45-The Future Affirmed
Numbers 14:31-39-God tells them that though they will not go into the Promised Land…their children will. The entire group will wander aimlessly in the wilderness for 40 years…one year for each of the 40 days that the spies were in the Promised Land. During that time, all of those who were alive and 20-years old and older when they left Egypt would die.
Numbers 14:40-45-After hearing this, the people try to enter the Promised Land on their own...but they were defeated.
Numbers 15 The Laws of The Land
Numbers 15:1-13-Laws concerning sacrifices in the Promised Land.
Numbers 15:14-16-Non-Israelites could live among the people…but, they had to follow the laws of God.
Numbers 15:17-21-This was the part of the sacrifice that was for the Priest.
Numbers 15:22-29-The required offering for a sin committed "unintentionally" (“unwittingly”-15:22)...whether it be the nation, an individual, or an alien. This is a sin that happens “through error” (15:26). An “unintentional” sin was one that was committed either with knowledge, or without knowledge that what was being done was sin.
Numbers 15:30-31-Here is given the required judgment for a sin committed "intentionally". Intentional sin is that which is done in direct defiance to God, “that one is blaspheming the LORD…he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment” (cf. Exod. 14:8). There is no propitiatory offering for “intentional” sin.
Numbers 15:32-36-An example of an "intentional" sin was a man who broke the Sabbath. He was doing so in direct defiance of God and he was stoned by the whole congregation
Here is, I. The general doom passed upon presumptuous sinners. 1. Those are to be reckoned presumptuous sinners that sin with a high hand, as the original phrase is (v. 30), that is, that avowedly confront God’s authority, and set up their own lust in competition with it, that sin for sinning-sake, in contradiction to the precept of the law, and in defiance of the penalty, that fight against God, and dare him to do his worst; see Job 15:25. It is not only to sin against knowledge, but to sin designedly against God’s will and glory. 2. Sins thus committed are exceedingly sinful. He that thus breaks the commandment, (1.) Reproaches the Lord (v. 30); he says the worst he can of him, and most unjustly. The language of presumptuous sin is, “Eternal truth is not fit to be believed, the Lord of all not fit to be obeyed, and almighty power not fit to be either feared or trusted.” It imputes folly to Infinite Wisdom, and iniquity to the righteous Judge of heaven and earth; such is the malignity of wilful sin. (2.) He despises the word of the Lord, v. 31. There are those who, in many instances, come short of fulfilling the word, and yet have a great value for it, and count the law honourable; but presumptuous sinners despise it, thinking themselves too great, too good, and too wise, to be ruled by it. What is the Almighty that we should serve him? Whatever the sin itself is, it is contumacy that incurs the anathema. It is rebellion added to the sin that is as witch-craft, and stubbornness as idolatry. 3. The sentence passed on such is dreadful. There remains no sacrifice for those sins; the law provided none: That soul shall be cut off from among his people (v. 30), utterly cut off (v. 31); and that God may be for ever justified, and the sinner for ever confounded, his iniquity shall be upon him, and there needs no more to sink him to the lowest hell. Thus the Jewish doctors understand it, that the iniquity shall cleave to the soul, after it is cut off, and that man shall give an account of his sin at the great day of judgment. Perhaps the kind of offence might be such as did not expose the offender to the censure of the civil magistrate, but, if it was done presumptuously, God himself would take the punishment of it into his own hands, and into them it is a fearful thing to fall. In the New Testament we find the like sentence of exclusion from all benefit by the great sacrifice passed upon the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, and a total apostasy from Christianity.
- A particular instance of presumption in the sin of sabbath-breaking. 1. The offence was the gathering of sticks on the sabbath day (v. 32), which, it is probable, were designed to make a fire of, whereas they were commanded to bake and seeth what they had occasion for the day before, Ex. 16:23. This seemed but a small offence, but it was a violation of the law of the sabbath, and so was a tacit contempt of the Creator, to whose honour the sabbath was dedicated, and an incursion upon the whole law, which the sabbath was intended as a hedge about. And it appears by the context to have been done presumptuously, and in affront both of the law and to the Law-maker. 2. The offender was secured, v. 33, 34. Those that found him gathering sticks, in their zeal for the honour of the sabbath, brought him to Moses and Aaron, and all the congregation, which intimates that being the sabbath day the congregation was at that time gathered to Moses and Aaron, to receive instruction from them, and to join with them in religious worship. It seems, even common Israelites, though there was much amiss among them, yet would not contentedly see the sabbath profaned, which was a good sign that they had not quite forsaken God, nor were utterly forsaken of him. 3. God was consulted, because it was not declared what should be done to him. The law had already made the profanation of the sabbath a capital crime (Ex. 31:14, ch. 35:2); but they were in doubt, either concerning the offence (whether this that he had done should be deemed a profanation or no) or concerning the punishment, which death he should die. God was the Judge, and before him they brought this cause. 4. Sentence was passed; the prisoner was adjudged a sabbath-breaker, according to the intent of that law, and as such he must be put to death; and to show how great the crime was, and how displeasing to God, and that others might hear and fear and not do in like manner presumptuously, that death is appointed him which was looked upon as most terrible: He must be stoned with stones, v. 35. Note, God is jealous for the honour of his sabbaths, and will not hold those guiltless, whatever men do, that profane them. 5. Execution was done pursuant to the sentence, v. 36. He was stoned to death by the congregation. As many as could were employed in the execution, that those, at least, might be afraid of breaking the sabbath, who had thrown a stone at this sabbath-breaker. This intimates that the open profanation of the sabbath is a sin which ought to be punished and restrained by the civil magistrate, who, as far as overt acts go, is keeper of both tables. See Neh. 13:17. One would think there could be no great harm in gathering a few sticks, on what day soever it was, but God intended the exemplary punishment of him that did so for a standing warning to us all, to make conscience of keeping holy the Sabbath.
Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 208). Peabody: Hendrickson, Logos Bible Software
Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth understood that sin is not an abstract concept but rather pollutes everything it touches. Having successfully murdered Duncan, she thought her deed would go unpunished. Yet she did not account for the lingering filth of her evil. Despite her best attempts to clean herself, she had to confess: “Here’s the smell of blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.”
The idea that sin brings pollution is thoroughly biblical, and the reality of this pollution was dealt with under the old covenant through the sin offering described in today’s passage. “Sin offering” is a perfectly acceptable translation of the Hebrew term in Leviticus 4, but what the sin offering actually accomplished is better seen in the words purification offering. The sin offering purified the sanctuary; it removed the defilement of sin that occurred when the people broke the covenant.
Our holy God cannot abide the presence of those people and things that are unclean (22:3), and each time people sinned under the old covenant, they dirtied themselves. The burnt offering solved the problem of the Lord’s wrath, but it did not purify the one offering the sacrifice. There still needed to be expiation, or the removal of sin’s pollution, from the worshipers and the instruments of worship. The blood of the sin offering accomplished this cleansing. The tabernacle that became defiled because it was located in the midst of a sinful people was cleansed by the blood of the sacrifice, and the sinner was made clean and able to stand before God again (4:1–5:13).
Unintentional sins and sins of omission were dealt with in the sin offering. These were sins people committed in ignorance of the Mosaic code or when they forgot those laws they had learned. Sins committed with a “high hand” were not covered (Num. 15:22–31). A high-handed sin is one a professing believer commits boldly and defiantly, not caring about the consequences and feeling no guilt about it once committed. It is a sin people commit fearlessly as they shake their fists, literally or figuratively, at the Lord. A sin committed with a high hand is not always the same thing as an intentional sin — all high-handed sins are intentional but not all intentional sins are high-handed. The truly converted will not commit high-handed sins, though they may commit sins of intention, albeit only after and during a struggle against the flesh (Rom. 7:7–25).
That an intentional sin is not always a high-handed sin is seen in God’s willingness to forgive sins that were clearly intentional (2 Sam. 11–12). Only those who are unconverted may sin with a high hand, for a converted person will express sorrow and contrition after an intentional sin, thereby proving it was never high-handed in the first place. As we repent over sins both intentional and unintentional, we are assured that we belong to Jesus.
For additional information on “intentional sin” see:
Numbers 15:37-41-God tells the people to put a tassel and a blue cord on each corner of their clothing to remind them of the commandments of the LORD…so that they would follow them and not just decide for themselves what to do.
Prayer: Lord, when the people tried to go into the Promised Land without You they were defeated. Please give me the wisdom to know when and where You are leading me. Don’t let me launch out on my own…no matter how good or right it may appear. Then, when the time comes, give me the faith that I need to act on Your will.