NUMBERS 13:1 – 15:41 and MARK 5:1–20
The Lord now instructs Moses to send representatives into Canaan to spy out the land of their inheritance. They were sent forth from Paran where they had been stationed for some time. A prominent leader from each of the tribes was tasked for this work. They were given specific instructions as to what to look out for by way of fruits and enemy strength. They were also instructed to bring forth some of the fruit of the land as evidence. The spies were in the land of Canaan for a period of 40 days. Their report is covered in verses 26-29. They brought evidence of the fruit of the land which was spoken by the Lord to Moses when He spoke from the burning bush. (Exo 3:8) The “nevertheless” portion of their report then comes forth when they say how strong and fortified the cities were. They go on to speak of the enemies as giants and that the forces of the Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites were strong. The report of 10 of the 12 spies was a negative one which had a paralyzing effect upon the masses of people. There were two spies (Joshua and Caleb) who saw the situation differently. Their respective confessions can be summed up in the following two verses:
Num 13:30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
Num 13:31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
Let’s examine these two verses in some detail. First let us look at the confession of the 10 spies. Their assessment was based on the prevailing circumstances. Their report may have been factual on many points but it was counter to what God was saying to them. God was providing them an opportunity to enter into the land that He had promised to them. They had seen God’s power at work about 2 years earlier when He led them out of Egypt. They saw how He was able to meet their daily needs yet their confession was one that struck fear because of its emphasis on the overwhelming prowess of the enemy. They were not aligning their confession with what God was saying. God was saying I am giving you this land. (vs 2) The report brought back from the spies was saying that God is not able. (vs 31) It is so important to measure and consider carefully our testimony and confession of God. Let’s consider for a moment what Paul speaks to the Romans.
Rom 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
God had given them a Word of faith. The confession on their lips was contrary to what God was saying. In essence they were saying that God was not able to bring them in. Here was their window of opportunity and they failed because of the overwhelming forces poised against them. It must be understood that when God is calling a people into an inheritance or promise there is going to be significant opposition. This had been the enemy’s domain and they are not going to let it go without a fight. Oftentimes, their strength is in their ability to project fear. We see this with Goliath against Israel. Each and every day he shouted out across the valley striking fear and paralysis to Saul and Israel.
Consider what David says in Psa 37:35-37.
Psa 37:35 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
Psa 37:36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
Psa 37:37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
One moment he is there in full intimidation mode and the next moment he is removed and gone. What is the weapon that is seen here that defeats the enemy? It is Peace. (vs 37, Rom 16:20) It is clear from this account how essential it is to hear and know what God is speaking. Secondly, to confess and align with what God is saying makes allowance for Faith to be implemented. Israel had their eyes on the forces and prowess of the enemy. They were not saturated in God’s perspective and timing resulting in their negative confession. God was saying to go in and possess the land. Israel was saying God is not able to bring us in.
There were two other spies (Joshua and Caleb) who had a totally different confession. It was Caleb who spoke up in verse 30 saying to go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. Here you have one moment, one event and two different confessions. What the people confessed on this unique day sealed their destiny. The two who confessed God’s ability to bring them in experienced the blessing of steeping foot into Canaan. The others, (people of age 20 and older) who confessed God was not able, failed to enter to the land promised to them. This was a defining moment, an appointed day where the confessions of men ended up determining respective destinies. The question is which of these two groups represent us? It is easy to say I am like Caleb and Joshua, but are we? How do we view day to day circumstances? Are they seen through the lens of scripture or through circumstances? Are we solidly feeding upon the Word of God, hearing His voice so that we can align and confess with what God is speaking? The ratio was 10 spies with a negative confession and only 2 who had a different spirit. I wonder if that ratio is any different today. We must hear what the Spirit of God is saying and position ourselves to align accordingly but by both word (confession) and deed.
The evil report of the 10 spies had now permeated the encampment. They brought accusation and complaint against Moses, even going so far as to wanting to make a captain among them to lead them back to Egypt. They wept because the day they had been waiting for had now arrived but it was not measuring up to their expectation. It could be likened to the time of when the Lord came on the scene. The prophets of old spoke about His coming; the people were longing and waiting for Him but when He came there was disappointment among many of them. He did not measure up to their expectation. Still, if they truly knew the scriptures they would have had perspective which could hold them. Keep in mind, Israel was failing in many of the day to day tests of the wilderness. The truth of the matter was that they were conditioned to fail. They failed on this day to enter in because they failed many of the day to day testing’s of the wilderness. They were not a thankful people in spite of all that God had done for them. In verses 5-10 Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb rent their clothes and fell on their faces and again stated God’s ability to being them in to the land. The Lord hearkens and listens closely to the Words that people speak concerning Him, especially those that Fear His name. (Mal 3:16) This confession distinguished this group from the others. The majority of the people responded by wanting to stone them with stones. Can you imagine the chaotic scene? Moses, the recognized leader along with Aaron, Caleb and Joshua are now the object of the people’s disdain. This is one of the clear defining moments in the annals of Israel’s history. It was a momentous opportunity that God was presenting to them but they missed God’s visitation. Jesus Himself, wept over the city of Jerusalem when He realized that they had missed their visitation, their window of opportunity that was before them. (Luk 19:41, 44) We have this numbing sense of living day to day thinking that one day will be no different than another. This was no ordinary day. Israel missed their visitation of God; their opportunity to enter into the fullness of God’s promise.
Moses now shines brightly in his role as an interceding priest. (vs 11-20) God was angry with Israel and thought to smite them with a pestilence. He again tells Moses that He will make of him a great nation. Moses then takes on the role of standing in the gap on behalf of the people. He is able to draw upon his exposure to God when he encountered Him at Mt. Sinai. (Exo 34:6) He had a revelation of God as being Long-Suffering and of great Mercy and it’s clear that these attributes were now part of Moses makeup. He pleaded for God to pardon the people, and God did according to his word. (vs 20)
The Lord speaks to Moses in how Israel had failed ten tests in verse 22. The failure to obey and enter Canaan is the 10th test. They failed, on this the biggest tests because they failed all of the others. This is why we must learn to draw daily upon His grace. They loathed and despised the daily provision of manna resulting in them crying out for meat (Num 11:4-6). God gave them their hearts desire but leanness settled into their soul. They complained as they drew near to the Red Sea (Exo 14: 11), they complained about the bitter waters at Marah (Exo 15:23), they resorted to idolatry (Exo 32) when Moses was with God at Mt. Sinai. These are some of the earlier events where Israel sinned against God.
Psa 106:15 And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.
The people thought they had prevailed upon God in obtaining their heart’s desire. This is a lesson for us today. We may end up getting what we truly want however if it is asked out of an uncircumcised heart it will not be for our eternal good. There is a sense of entitlement that is creeping into the church today. We are products of the kingdom therefore we are entitled to certain rights and privileges. May God help to produce the fruit of meekness in our lives in these pivotal days. It is the fruit of meekness and righteousness that will hide us in the day of the Lord’s anger. (Zep 2:3) These qualities will help prepare us to be like Joshua and Caleb who were of another spirit. (vs 24) Once again God makes a clear distinction between those who aligned their confession with what He was saying.
The Lord goes on to state the total number of years that they would wander in the wilderness. Moses then speaks to the people and they have come to know that they had sinned against God. (vs 39-40) The people, realizing that they had missed God, presume to go into the land. Moses warned them that God would not be with them. They went anyways and were destroyed. The Ark of God was not with them. This is a vital lesson and it sadly is a lesson that will play out again in Israel’s future. It is a clear warning for today. We must learn to flow and move when God moves. We cannot just presume upon God. Moses said earlier; unless thy presence does no go with us let us not go. (Exo 33:15) We must follow the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, moving and aligning our walk and confession with what God is doing and saying. This is how Faith is realized and it is through Faith and Faith alone that God establishes His work. Faith accomplishes his agenda and pleasure, not man’s. These past two chapters (Num 13-14) are loaded with insights and truths that have deep meaning for us. It is critical for us to do an honest assessment so as to see which of the two groups we find ourselves in. These two groups exist today.
Now that Israel is subjected to another 38 years of wilderness wanderings the Lord again speaks as to how to conduct themselves when they enter into the land. This is primarily for the benefit of the future generations (those under 20 at this time) since the others forfeited their opportunity. There is a reiteration of many of the Levitical instruction that was seen earlier. I feel to use this opportunity to try and get a sense of what it must have been like at this time. How would you feel if you came to know that you missed your opportunity and now you have been told you will not enter into your appointed inheritance? I am sure there are many who learned a valuable lesson and served faithfully through those years even though they did not enter in. We will find later that even Moses was not able to enter in due to a release of anger at a critical time. Try and think of yourself as one of those who lived at this time. Think of what it must be like to have to stand before God in eternity, having that fateful day played out before you. Do you think they would love to have had an opportunity to go back and relive that moment? The ability to go back and be among those of a different Spirit who aligned their confession with what God was saying? If only they could. They now have to live with an eternity of regret in knowing they missed that one opportunity, on that one day. Oh God, please help us to not miss the day of your visitation. The last days are upon us and we can be assured that there will be moments when we will be in one of these two streams. Will we hear God’s voice amongst the clamor of noise and life and respond accordingly? Will we allow God to help us be overcomers in the day to day affairs of life so as to prepare us for the bigger day of challenges? The next 38 years will be filled with more examples that will help determine which stream we will align with. The accounts in the Book of Numbers are really an instruction manual for us today. May God help us to see ourselves in the narrative and honestly assess where we are. If we have an open and honest heart we can be among those of a different spirit. (14:24)
Jesus continues His miracle ministry of deliverance and healing as seen in earlier chapters. In addition the chapter makes references to certain miracles that were not to be published or made known (vs 43). At the same time He tells the man who received deliverance from demonic possession to go and tell his friends the good things the Lord hath done for him (vs 19).
In verses 1-20 the Lord delivers a man who had been tormented and bound. It was apparent that no man could bind or deliver him. This person had a reputation among many for his constant crying out in the night coupled with self-mutilation. The presence of Jesus drew this man towards Him. Immediately, the leading demonic spirit spoke to the Lord about being tormented and delivered before his time. What does all this mean?
Jesus commanded for this demon to come out of the man (vs 8). He then went on to ask his name. The demon responded “My name is Legion: for we are many”. This demon then pleads to not be sent away out of country. In Mathew’s account (Mat 8:28-34) we see that there were two men possessed with devils. We also see them saying to Jesus why torment us before the time? There is an underlying truth to this account to consider. The name Legion is significant because it speaks of the size of Roman regiment which consists of 6000 men and 6000 horses. There is an element of timing associated with this deliverance. Jesus delivers this man from his bondage and this demonic group headed by Legion finds refuge in a pack of swine numbering about 2000 who then run violently into the sea (Mark 5:13).
The demons headed by Legion knew that their time of ultimate judgment had not yet come. The number 6000 speaks of the years given to man. The fact that the Lord granted the request in allowing them to inhabit the swine on the hills was acknowledging that there time had not yet come. There would be another 2000 year period before the demons would be sealed in judgment at the end of the church age. It is a clear message to all of us in giving us a window and insight into God’s timetable. This miracle was one that Jesus wanted to be broadcast and conveyed (vs 19). It is a miracle of significance not just for the benefit of the man who was delivered but for the message that is conveyed to future generations through it. One also cannot help but marvel at the command that Jesus had over this situation. The first 20 verses of Mark 5 has much greater significance than just the miracle of deliverance.
The balance of this chapter sees Jesus continuing to perform significant miracles. It is good to put these miracles into the sequence of Mathew’s gospel. When we looked at Mathew 9 we saw the Lord speaking on the subject of becoming new wineskins (Math 9: 14-17). The Lord then introduced 5 profound miracles in succession between verses 18-38 of Math 9. Two of these miracles are contained in Mark 5:21-43. The last miracle is the account of Jairus’s daughter being healed. She was dead and the Lord raised her back to life. It was while He was on the way to this man’s house that he encountered the woman who had the issue of blood (vs 25-34). She touched Him “by faith” and received her healing. Jesus was truly gripped with compassion in this sequence of events (vs 19). Healing and deliverance flow out of a heart of compassion because such a heart is so invested in meeting the need in others. It is a latter day exhortation to us as well.
Jud 1:22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
The final thought is to refer to the comment Jesus made in the last verse (vs 41). He did not want this miracle to be noted to others. Once again we need to ask the question as to why? How can you conceal a miracle of raising someone from the dead? Is this not one of the functions of the ministry that the Lord gave to His disciples?
Mat 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Is this not a contradiction? I feel the Lord is trying to emphasize that we recognize priorities. The miracles, especially the notable ones validate the kingdom. They should be sought for and esteemed. There is a danger of over-emphasizing miracles at the expense of the big picture. This is the constant theme we see in Mark’s account of the Lord’s ministry. Jesus knew that the word would get out concerning the daughter being raised from the dead but He is making public statements to us, the church of our day, to not miss the bigger picture.
He openly told the man who was delivered by Legion to speak of what the Lord had done because it does demonstrate His power and authority to deliver while yet conveying a prophetic message that must be grasped. The church age is coming to a close and we are living in those days. We need to be careful about the over-emphasis of the miracles because it will cloud and hinder the ultimate purpose of God’s plan. We are to rather rejoice that our name’s and the names of others are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Luk 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
Luk 10:18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
Luk 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Luk 10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
The Lord made clear that the day is coming when Satan will fall from heaven so do not get overly caught up that you have authority over the scorpions and serpents. This is part of the ministry but not its ultimate message. God is preparing a bride for His Son and we can be part of that company. There is a great wedding feast about to take place at the end of the church age (6000 years) which could well mean the very days in which we live. Are we prepared for it? Do we have a wedding garment that has its origins in priestly garments as seen in the priests of the Tabernacle? Jesus is by no means making light of these miracles but he is constantly trying to keep our focus upon the bigger picture. Can you see how even some of the things we are seeing in Jesus ministry in the Gospels are actual fulfilment of the types and patterns examined thus far in the Old Testament? God desires and has made a way for all to come into the holiest of all. There is a way of approach unto God but it must be done on His terms. A choice is required on our part in allowing Him to administer the TRUE GRACE into our lives. Amen