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24 So Moses went out and told the people what the Eternal One had said. He also gathered 70 community elders and situated them around the congregation tent. 25 Then the Eternal descended in a cloud and talked with Moses, and He took some of the Spirit He laid on Moses and laid it on those 70 elders. At the moment when the Spirit touched them, each one prophesied, but they did not continue doing this.
26 A couple of men (Eldad and Medad) who had been organized during the Israelite counting, didn’t come to the tent but remained in the greater camp area and prophesied there. 27 A young man ran to Moses and reported it.
Young Man: Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!
28 Joshua (Nun’s son and Moses’ assistant from the time he was little), also was alarmed.
Joshua: Moses, my lord, stop them!
Moses: 29 Are you so agitated on my account? If only all of the Eternal’s people were prophets, that He would lay His Spirit on them.
Joshua thinks they are usurping Moses’ authority. But Moses’ response is the opposite—if only there were more like them!
30 After this, Moses and the elders of Israel went back into the greater camp.
31 Suddenly the Eternal One blew a wind carrying quails in from around the sea and letting them drop all around the camp. There were quails as far as the eye could see—a day’s journey on one side of the camp and another day’s journey on the other side, and they were about three feet deep on the ground. 32 The people got to work right away, gathering the quails. It took them the rest of that day and all night and the entire next day to pick up all the birds. Finally, no one had fewer than 60 bushels, and they spread them out all over the camp. 33 While the people were still biting meat off the bone, before it was even chewed, the anger of the Eternal was unleashed against them. He struck the people down with a terrible plague. 34 Because He killed so many of them on account of their craving and because of these buried there, the place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, which means “graves of cravings.” 35 The people journeyed on from there to Hazeroth, where they stayed for awhile.
12 While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron chastised Moses for marrying a foreign woman—a Cushite (and it was true that he did indeed marry such an African).
Miriam and Aaron: 2 Has the Eternal One spoken only through Moses? No, the Eternal has also spoken through us.
Now, the Eternal One heard this. 3 For his part, Moses was a uniquely humble fellow, more humble than anyone in the entire world. 4 All of a sudden, the Eternal called the three siblings together.
Eternal One: Come here, you three—Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Join Me at the congregation tent.
They did. 5 The Eternal One descended in a cloud-column, stood at the tent opening, and summoned just Aaron and Miriam. They came forward.
Eternal One: 6 Listen to Me. When there are prophets in your midst, I, the Eternal One, will show Myself to them in visions, and will sound My voice in their dreams. 7 It’s different with My servant, Moses. I have entrusted him above anyone else in My whole house, 8 and with him I communicate face-to-face. We speak directly and without riddles. He can even see the very form of the Eternal. So why aren’t you nervous about criticizing My servant, Moses?
Moses is described as uniquely close to the Lord. He is singled out as God’s servant, a distinction reserved for a few in the Old Testament, with David being the most notable. His importance is underscored by God’s unique communication with Moses. It is direct, plain, and without trances, visions, or dreams. Literally, the communication is right in God’s face. The idea here is that it is not veiled but intimate; there is a closeness between God and Moses no other person shares. But in the same way that Jesus will be understood only by those who know Him and are known by Him, God’s communication to Moses is different. It is not a riddle that is hard to understand or easy to confuse. God is seen and heard clearly by His servant and friend, Moses.
9 The Eternal left, quite angry with Miriam and Aaron. 10 When the cloud lifted from the congregation tent, you could see that Miriam had been stricken with a disfiguring skin condition. Her skin looked white, like snow. Aaron looked at her, saw this, 11 and immediately turned to Moses.
Aaron: Please, Moses, my lord, don’t punish us for this offense that we so stupidly committed. 12 Don’t leave her in this partial death—like a stillborn baby whose flesh is already half-rotted away!
Moses (pleading to the Lord): 13 O, God, I ask You to please heal her!
Eternal One (to Moses): 14 If her father had been angry with her and made it obvious by, say, spitting in her face, wouldn’t she have to bear her shame for a week? Just so, you must ostracize her from the camp for seven days. After that, she can rejoin the community.
15 So Miriam was shut out of the community for seven days, which also meant that the whole group didn’t travel until Miriam was brought back in, 16 and they set out again. They journeyed from Hazeroth into the Paran Wilderness and set up camp there.
13 The Eternal One spoke to Moses.
There is dissension in the camp. Some of the leaders have been sharing their doubts with the people, and folks are nervous. The thrill of this wilderness camping experience has worn off, and some are thinking that working for the Egyptians wasn’t so bad. So barely two years out of Egypt, the Israelites are standing at the door of their promised land. Moses needs to motivate the people, and he selects 12 key men from each of the tribes to explore the land of abundance God has provided. The nation stands to enter into a time of great reward, but first their leaders must bring back a report that will inspire their confidence.
Eternal One: 2 Send men who can spy out the Canaanite land that I’m giving to the Israelites. Pick one man, with demonstrated leadership, from each of the tribal families.
3 Moses did so. He sent the twelve heads of Israel out from Paran Wilderness camp just as the Eternal told him. 4 These are the men who went and the tribes they represented: Shammua (Zaccur’s son) for Reuben; 5 Shaphat (Hori’s son) for Simeon; 6 Caleb (Jephunneh’s son) for Judah; 7 Igal (Joseph’s son) for Issachar; 8 Hoshea (Nun’s son) for Joseph’s tribe, specifically Ephraim; 9 Palti (Raphu’s son) for Benjamin; 10 Gaddiel (Sodi’s son) for Zebulun; 11 Gaddi (Susi’s son) for Joseph’s tribe, Manasseh; 12 Ammiel (Gemalli’s son) for Dan; 13 Sethur (Michael’s son) for Asher; 14 Nahbi (Vophsi’s son) for Naphtali; 15 and Geuel (Machi’s son) for Gad. 16 These are the names of the men selected to spy out Canaan. And Moses changed the name of Hoshea (son of Nun) to Joshua, who would succeed Moses.
17 Moses sent this group to spy out the land of Canaan.
Moses: Trek through the southland desert of Negev and up into the high country. 18 I want you to tell us about the land and especially about its people—are they strong or weak? Are there a lot of them or only a few? 19-20 Do their cities have fortifications, or are their camps open all around? Also, is the land itself good or bad, its soil rich or poor? Are there any trees? Be bold, and bring back samples of what grows there like their grapes.
It was in midsummer when you’d expect them to find grapes just beginning to ripen.
21 They set out, these men, and explored the land from the flat Zin wilderness, north of Paran where the rest were camped, all the way to Rehob on the coast and Lebo-hamath much farther north. 22 They trekked first into the Negev and up to Hebron, a city built seven years before the Egyptian town of Zoan in the Nile Delta. There, they saw the giant Anakite people, including the clans of Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai; 23-24 and they checked out the lush Eshcol riverbed that, as its name suggests, grew bunches of grapes. So thick and heavy were the clusters that when two of the men cut down one branch holding one cluster, they had to carry it on a pole between them. They also picked up some pomegranates and figs from that place.
25 After 40 days, they returned from exploring 26 to the camp at Kadesh, in the Paran Wilderness, and went directly to Moses and Aaron and all the Israelite congregation, which had gathered to hear what the scouts had learned and to see what fruits they had brought back with them.
Twelve Scouts (to Moses): 27 We checked out the land, just as you’d instructed us to do, and here’s what we discovered: It is rich, very rich. One could say that it flows with milk and honey; and look, here is some of its fruit. The land is highly desirable, 28 but the people who already live there are really strong. Their cities are enormous and fortified. What’s more, we saw the Anakites there. 29 In the Negev, there are Amalekites; and in the high hill country are Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites. As for the seacoast, Canaanites live there and along the Jordan River too.
It is certain the Israelites are deeply discouraged by this report, for what was said about the native inhabitants is most alarming.
30 But Caleb calmed the congregation, and he spoke to Moses.
Caleb: We should go straight in, right away, and take it over. We are surely able!
Other Scouts: 31 No way. We can’t do it. The people who are already there are too strong for us.
32 So the report of these other scouts was quite disheartening; it made the people question God’s promise.
Other Scouts: The land that we surveyed virtually eats its own, and the people themselves are gigantic. 33 We saw the massive Anakites who descended from the ancient Nephilim![a] We look like grasshoppers compared to them, and they know it.
22 As they ate, Jesus took bread, offered a blessing, and broke it. He handed the pieces to His disciples.
Jesus: Take this [and eat it].[a] This is My body.
23 He took a cup of wine; and when He had given thanks for it, He passed it to them, and they all drank from it.
Jesus: 24 This is My blood, a covenant[b] poured out on behalf of many. 25 Truly I will never taste the fruit of the vine again until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
This moment has been commemorated for two thousand years. Exactly what Jesus meant by calling the bread and wine His body and blood has been debated for centuries. By eating the bread and drinking the wine, believers participate not only in this supper but also in His death and resurrection because the bread is torn and the wine is poured, just as His body was torn and His blood poured out.
Just as Jesus’ physical body housed the Spirit of God, the physicality of the bread and wine has a spiritual significance. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need to eat the bread and drink the wine to celebrate this moment—it would be enough for us to read the story and remember what happened. But we, too, are physical as well as spiritual; and our physical actions can have spiritual importance.
26 After the meal, they sang a psalm and went out of the city to the Mount of Olives.
Jesus: 27 All of you will desert Me tonight. It was written by Zechariah,
I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will scatter.[c]
28 But when I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.
Peter (protesting): 29 It doesn’t matter who else turns his back on You. I will never desert You.
Jesus: 30 Peter, mark My words. This very night before the cock crows twice, you will have denied Me three times.
Peter (insisting): 31 No, Teacher. Even if it means that I have to die with You, I’ll never deny You.
All the other disciples said similar things.
32 They came at length to a garden called Gethsemane.
Jesus: Stay here. I’m going a little farther to pray and to think.
33 He took Peter, James, and John with Him; and as they left the larger group behind, He became distressed and filled with sorrow.
Jesus: 34 My heart is so heavy; I feel as if I could die. Wait here for Me, and stay awake to keep watch.
35 He walked on a little farther. Then He threw Himself on the ground and prayed for deliverance from what was about to come.
Jesus: 36 Abba, Father, I know that anything is possible for You. Please take this cup away so I don’t have to drink from it. But whatever happens, let Your will be done—not Mine.
37 He got up, went back to the three, and found them sleeping.
Jesus (waking Peter): Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you wait with Me for just an hour? 38 Stay awake, and pray that you aren’t led into a trial of your own. It’s true—even when the spirit is willing, the body can betray it.
39 He went away again, and prayed again the same prayer as before—pleading with God but surrendering to His will.
40 He came back and found the three asleep; and when He woke them, they didn’t know what to say to Him.
41 After He had gone away and prayed for a third time, He returned to find them slumbering.
Jesus: Again? Still sleeping and getting a good rest? Well, that’s enough sleep. The time has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up now, and let’s go. The one who is going to betray Me is close by.
In the moments before Jesus’ death, He really knows what it feels like to be human and afraid. Jesus knows exactly what is about to happen to Him and exactly how bad it will be. Now that the time has come, He feels all the natural human emotions.
Most amazing of all is the prayer Jesus says in that moment: “Please take this cup away so I don’t have to drink from it.” Even though He divinely knows what is going to happen—what must happen—He still asks for a reprieve. At the same time, He submits His human desires and will to the plan of His Father: in order to experience fully what it means to be human, He has to go through even this—denying Himself and what He wants—to face certain torture and death.
43 Before He had finished talking, Judas (one of the twelve) approached with a large group of people—agents of the chief priests, scribes, and elders in Jerusalem armed with swords and clubs.
44 The signal they had arranged was a kiss. “Watch to see whom I kiss; He’s the One,” Judas had told them. “Arrest Him, and take Him into secure custody.”
45 As soon as they arrived, Judas stepped forward.
Judas (kissing Jesus): My Teacher.[d]
46 Immediately the soldiers grabbed Jesus and took Him into custody.
47 Now one of the disciples standing close by drew his sword and swung, cutting off the ear of a slave of Caiaphas, the high priest.
Jesus (calling out): 48 Am I a thief or a bandit that you have to come armed with swords and clubs to capture Me? 49 I sat teaching in the temple every day with you. You could have taken Me at any time, but you never did. Let the Scriptures be fulfilled.
50 When they saw the armed crowd take Jesus into custody, the disciples fled. 51 One of those following Jesus was a young man who was wearing nothing but a linen cloth. When people from the mob grabbed for him, 52 he wriggled out of their grasp, left them holding the cloth, and ran naked into the night.
Psalm 52 recalls the callous way Doeg and Saul put to death the 85 priests of Nob (1 Samuel 22:6–19). The psalm ends with a memorable image: the one who keeps faith with God is like a lush olive tree cared for in His garden. While those who do not trust in Him are snatched up and torn away, those who do right will flourish under His care.
1 Why do you boast of all the trouble you stir up, O mighty one,
when the constant, unfailing love of God is what truly lasts?
2 Have you listened to yourself?
Your tongue is like a sharp razor,
full of lies that slash and tear right to the soul.
3 You’ve fallen in love with evil and have no interest in what He calls good.
You prefer your own lies to speaking what is true.
4 You love words that destroy people, don’t you,
5 You won’t be smiling
when the True God brings His justice and destroys you forever.
He will come into your home, snatch you away,
and pull you from the land of the living.
6 Those who are just will see what happens to you and be afraid.
And some of them will laugh and say,
7 “Hey, look! Over there is the one who didn’t take
shelter in the True God;
Instead, he trusted in his great wealth
and got what he wanted by destroying others!”
8 But my life is abundant—like a lush olive tree
cared for at the house of the one True God.
I put my trust in His kind love
forever and ever; it will never fail.
9 Because of all You have done,
I will humble myself and thank You forever.
With Your faithful people at my side,
I will put my hope in Your good reputation.
11 Dishonesty in business disgusts the Eternal,
but fair dealing delights Him.
Business may well be the most common human activity, so God cares deeply about how we conduct our business. Many proverbs address honesty in all forms of business—buying, selling, negotiating, transacting, and working. All of these depend on trust. Deceit in business causes many people to suffer. In fact, world economies and all our livelihoods depend in large measure on truthfulness, honesty, and fair dealings in the market.
2 When pride comes, shame is not far behind,
but wisdom accompanies those who are humble.
3 The right-living are guided by integrity,
but the crooked ways of the faithless will lead to ruin.