Lesson: Moses’ Prayer and God’s Answer

By Rev. Leo H. McCrary II – November 7, 2021
Taught From – Numbers 14:13-24

Introduction

In our lesson this week, we are going to continue to look at the fallout from the bad report of ten of the twelve spies that went into the land of Canaan.  The bad report about the Promised Land has spread through the camp which led the people to doubt and question why the Lord would deliver them to a land that was no good and filled with mighty people.  The people are now wanting new leadership that would lead them away from God’s blessing of the Promised Land and take them back to Egypt.  God is not pleased with the people rejecting His blessing and so we see His response continue in our lesson today.  Today’s lesson is being taught from Numbers 14:13-24.

Moses’ Plea to the Lord

Let us remember that in our lesson last week, the Lord said that He would strike the people with pestilence and disinherit them from the Promised Land because they were rejecting God’s blessing.  The Lord also said to Moses that He would make a greater and mightier nation out of him (Num. 14:12).  So, the Lord was telling Moses that He was ready to cast away the unfaithful ones.

What will others say?

So, our lesson opens today with Moses, after hearing what God had said to him, pleading on behalf of the people – essentially this is a prayer of intercession.  I love when we get to look at prayers in the bible because we will see that prayer does not have to be puffed up as many think it has to be.  I often tell people when they pray just to talk to God.  No, it’s not like talking to a common person, and yes we should certainly be respectful, but at the end of the day, just talk – be yourself when you talk to the Lord.  God is in a relationship with you (in fellowship) and He knows you very well so, you don’t have to change anything – be yourself..

We will see that Moses’ prayer was not puffed up nor was it Moses truly was a great spiritual leader for the people because he would often intercede on their behalf before the Lord.  Moses starts off his plea by speaking to how the Egyptians would react to hearing news about God destroying the children of Israel (v. 13).

The Egyptians knew of God because of how the Lord had plagued them and led the children of Israel out of bondage.  Not only that, let’s remember that Moses, when speaking on behalf of the Lord, said to Moses, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness.”  So, it is certainly possible that if the Egyptians had heard of the destruction of the children of Israel, they would have mocked and laughed at the children of Israel and also mocked the Lord as well.

Not only that, the Egyptians certainly could have spread this word throughout the land which would lead to all the people mocking God (v. 14).  We must remember that God had promised to Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan.  So, in a way, Moses is calling to God’s remembrance the promise that He had made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel), and therefore, all the children of Israel.  So, in a way, the destruction of the children of Israel by God would lead to the world mocking the Lord and His ability to keep His promises (vss. 15-16).

A call to remembrance  

We will then see in Moses’ prayer, that He begins to call to the Lord’s remembrance the things that God had promised.  Now, we often see this happen in scripture where someone calls to “remembrance” something that God has promised.  Let us not think that God is a forgetful God because He is certainly not a forgetful God.  The Lord is omniscient, which means He is all knowing.  God knows all things past, present, and in the future so, He most definitely does not need to be reminded about anything so that He can remember.

So, why was Moses calling to remembrance to the Lord, His promise to Abraham if God is not forgetful?  I believe Moses did it for the very same reason that I often do it when I pray to the Lord.  I often ‘remind’ the Lord of the things that He has done for me, not because I believe God has forgotten, but to show that I remember what God has done for me.  If you remember, the Lord was furious last week with the children of Israel because the people were rejecting Him and not remembering all that God had done for them (Num. 14:11-12).  

So, to call to remembrance the things that God has done for you, is a sign of both humbleness and faith.  I say humbleness because we are showing that we remember that God was the one who helped us or provided for us in our time of need.  There are times where we can become too prideful which leads to us believing that we have done things for ourselves and not the Lord.

Moses’ supplication

In his supplication, we see Moses pray that the Lord be great (v. 17) and again Moses calls to remembrance something the Lord has said.  Moses remembers the Lord saying that He is longsuffering (which is to say that He is patient) and abundant in His mercy to forgive iniquity and transgressions (v. 18).  Again, Moses is calling to remembrance the things that God has promised and said because he is faithful and remembers these sayings faithfully.  Not only does Moses remember the things that the Lord has said, but he trusts and believes in what God has said.  Again, this is a sign of Moses’ faith.

Something that we will also note about this particular verse is that Moses does call to remembrance that the Lord is not going to let the guilty escape punishment.  Moses says, “[God] by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation (v. 18).”  

What Moses has said here is exactly what the Lord said to him when He passed before Moses in the cleft of a rock. In the book of Exodus, we read the Lord proclaiming to Moses, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation (Ex. 34:6-7).”

Again, Moses was truly a man of faith to be able to recall these things that the Lord had said to him a couple years ago.  Now, we will see why Moses was calling these things to remembrance in what he then asks of the Lord.  In calling to remembrance these things, we’ll see Moses then ask the Lord, “Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy, just as You have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now (v. 19).”  

Moses is doing his very best to intercede on behalf of the children of Israel – he’s seeking their forgiveness from God.  So, the question is, is God going to be faithful and keep His word?  Moses is praying for God to be faithful and just!  Now, we know that the Lord is both faithful and just and will forgive and cleanse any that come to Him of their unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

The Lord’s answer

So, will the Lord forgive the people?  We see God’s response to Moses and He says, “have pardoned, according to your word (v. 20).”  God does not hesitate to pardon the people!  Again, God is both faithful and just and He will forgive those that come to Him!  Moses was a faithful servant of the Lord, but most importantly, he was the leader of the people.  When the people did wrong, the Lord came straight to Moses and spoke to him about the people.  Moses intercedes as a good spiritual leader, the Lord hears his prayer and answers immediately.

Now, just because the Lord pardons the people, we are going to see that it doesn’t mean that there won’t be any consequences for the people.  We will see the Lord say that because of the bad report from the ten spies, He considered that they had tested Him ten times.  Because they had tested Him ten times, God said that they – the ten spies – would not see the Promised Land because of their bad report.  To add on to who would not see the Promised Land, the Lord included those who rejected Him (vss. 22-23).

So, the people would not be destroyed by the Lord – He pardoned them.  Yet, we see that because they had rejected the Lord, God was not going to allow them to receive His blessing.  Again, the Promised Land was God’s blessing to the people and because they were rejecting His blessing, God was not going to give it to them.  

There are people living in our world today that have rejected the great blessing of heaven who the Lord pardons by not destroying them today – they are able to live and grace His earth.  Yet, the day will come when God is not going to allow them to receive the great blessing of heaven because they have rejected it.  Yet, we know that we who are faithful are not only pardoned of our sins, but we are forgiven and cleansed of our sins.  Because we are of faith in the Lord, we will get to enter into the Lord’s heavenly kingdom that was promised to us.

At the end of our lesson, we’ll see that the Lord rewards Caleb with being able to enter into the Promised Land (v. 24).  Caleb, the Lord states, had a different spirit compared to others, just as we have seen in recent lessons.  Caleb’s faith would be rewarded and he would get to see the great blessing of the Lord.  

For those that would ask about Joshua and whether or not he would get to enter into the Promised Land the answer to that question is that Joshua certainly did receive the blessing.  In fact, as we learned in the last quarter of lessons, Joshua would lead the new generation of the children of Israel across the Jordan and into the land of Canaan.  So, yes, the Lord is both faithful and just.  God is certainly going to forgive those that seek His forgiveness.  Yet, at the same time, those who reject Him, the Lord will also reject as well.