As Moses humbly intercedes on behalf of the Israelites, the abject immovability of God’s holiness and requirement of righteous “followship” is on full display. What a comfort it is to know that God is slow to anger and full of forgiveness, and what a cautionary reminder we have in the story of the Israelite’s rebellion that God is to be honored!
Reading the story in Numbers 14 allows us to see the full gamut of God’s infallible character. He keeps his promises and will never forsake them as he simultaneously requires that rebellion be rectified. As I think about my personal rebellions, I can hold fast that God’s requirement for justice is wrapped in his mercy. More than that…His mercy is in fact just. How can this be? If mercy is not receiving what we deserve, how is justice satisfied through mercy? As I read that rebellion leads to unfavorable and generational consequence, it creates an urgency in me to obey God and to follow his commands wholly and fervently. However, and this is the exciting part for us, God has kept his promise to punish and hold accountable the rebellious! Why is that exciting? Because he has exacted his punishment on he who is without sin. God’s justice has been satisfied through the atonement offered us at the cross of Jesus. God, in his wisdom and commitment to his own word, has required of himself the purveyance of mercy upon us through the mollification of the cross! In doing so, God’s justice IS mercy!!! Therefore, I pray and trust that rather than the punishment evidenced by rebellion, my receiving of and submission to the work of Jesus will pass the legacy of mercy on to the third and fourth generations of my progeny. Let it be true for us in Jesus name!