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14 At this, everybody with one voice cried out, and the people groaned and wept all night.
Israelites (blaming Moses and Aaron): 2 If only we had just died in Egypt or somewhere along the way in this wilderness, 3 rather than the Eternal One leading us out here to have us slaughtered and our women and the youngsters dragged off as plunder, too, as objects for their pleasure. Wouldn’t it be good just to go back to Egypt? 4 Let’s figure out among ourselves who should head the group and then make our way back to Egypt.
5 While all the gathered Israelites watched, Moses and Aaron collapsed to the ground before the people. 6 Joshua (Nun’s son, Moses’ young assistant—the one who would succeed him) and Caleb (who was Jephunneh’s son) lamented the Israelites’ response. These two, who were among those who journeyed into the promised land to explore it and bring back a report, tore their clothes 7 and addressed the whole community of Israelites.
Joshua and Caleb: The land that we saw was extraordinary! It’s some of the best land ever, 8 flowing with milk and honey. So stop this moaning and wailing! If we all do what is right in the eyes of God, the Eternal will bring us into the land and make it ours. 9 Do not rebel like this against the Eternal. Don’t be afraid of the land’s inhabitants. It is we who will devour them! They are now defenseless, and nothing can protect them from the Eternal, who is with us. You don’t need to be afraid of them!
10 But the rest of the Israelites were not convinced. Enraged, the crowd moved to stone Joshua and Caleb. Suddenly, the glory of the Eternal swept into the congregation tent in front of them all.
What a sad time it is for the Israelites! Joshua and Caleb have pleaded for courage among the people, and Moses and Aaron must now plead for patience on the part of the Lord. The Israelites stand on the edge of God’s promise, and they can’t find the courage to believe and to move forward by faith into the promise. Because of their reluctance to believe, they must wander through this wilderness with only God to supply their basic needs until He has purged the nation of those who lack faith. The next 38 years will cleanse the nation and develop the character each person needs to claim the promises of God. This same two-step process is repeated throughout the Bible: refine and cleanse while building the necessary faith. Unfortunately, the fire necessary for refinement is normally painful.
Eternal One (to Moses): 11 How many times will this ungrateful people turn their backs to Me? How long will they persist in their faithlessness, refusing to recognize all the wondrous signs I performed in their midst? 12 I will crush them with dreadful sickness and disinherit them from Me and the land. However, I will accept you and make you into a fearsome nation, far greater and more impressive than they might be or could ever dream of being.
Moses: 13 If You kill them, the Egyptians (whom You forced Your people away from) will get wind of it, 14 and they’ll tell the people of this new world, because all have already heard that You, O Eternal One, are present among Your people here, that You’ve been seen face-to-face, and that You personally guide them by a cloud-column during the day and a fire-column at night. 15 If You wipe out these, Your chosen people, in one fell swoop, then Your reputation among the other nations will be shot. All of those other peoples who have heard about You will say, 16 “The Eternal One couldn’t finish the job. He couldn’t bring the people into the land He’d promised to them, so He slaughtered them in the desert.” 17 Instead, demonstrate that great power of Yours when You declared, 18 “I am slow to get angry and overflow with consistently boundless love. I forgive wrongdoing and waywardness, but I don’t overlook the necessity for justice, so I punish the guilty ones’ third and fourth coming generations.” 19 So, in light of the greatness of Your unwavering love, forgive this people’s wrongdoing just as You’ve done before—from Egypt all the way here.
Eternal One: 20 I have pardoned them as you’ve asked Me to do. 21 But as I live, the earth will be filled with My brilliant glory; 22-23 this particular generation will never get to enjoy the land I promised to their ancestors so long ago. Although they witnessed My glory and signs firsthand, and the amazing feats I accomplished on their behalf in Egypt and on this desert sojourn, they tested Me over and over again, even 10 times, and even directly disobeyed. None of the people who have turned their backs on Me will ever see the land. 24 For Caleb, though, it’s a different matter. He’s distinct from the others by having a different spirit and has followed My lead wholeheartedly. I will make sure that he is able to enter the land and to live in it—he and his descendants after him.
25 Now, to avoid the Amalekites and Canaanites who presently inhabit the valleys, turn around tomorrow, and make for the desert by way of the Red Sea.[a]
26 The Eternal One reiterated to Moses and Aaron,
Eternal One: 27 How many times will these bad people grumble against Me and My choices? It seems that all I hear is Israelites complaining, complaining, complaining! 28 So tell them I say, “As I live, I will make sure that what you’re complaining about really does happen— 29 you’ll die out here in the desert, every single one of you old enough to have been organized in the counting (20 years or older) who complained about Me. 30 Not a single one of that group will have the privilege of entering the land I made an oath to give to you. Only Caleb (Jephunneh’s son) and Joshua (Nun’s son) will enter. 31 Your children, those whom you feared would be taken by the land’s present inhabitants, will eventually enter the land you’ve rejected. 32 But the rest of you? You’ll die out here in the desert. 33 Until then, your children will have to wait it out, keeping the herds and flocks out here in the wilderness. On account of your faithlessness, they’ll have to wait the 40 years it’ll take for you all to die. 34 The same number of scouting days—40—is the number of years you’ll carry the guilt of your wrongs for being so hard-headed and know Me as only an enemy.” 35 Well, there it is. I, the Eternal One, have spoken, and so I will do it. This especially wicked group that banded together against Me will suffer for it, each and every one, and will come to an end and die out here in this wilderness.
36-37 Remember that the men who had been hand-selected by Moses to scout out the promised land delivered a less-than-positive report. Consequently, in the assenting presence of the Eternal, they were all killed by a plague. 38 All, that is, except for Joshua (son of Nun) and Caleb (son of Jephunneh).
39 When Moses delivered this message from the Lord to the Israelites, they were devastated and greatly mourned. 40 But in the morning, they got up with the sun and climbed high into the hills.
Israelites: Well, here we are. Despite our wrongdoings, let’s go up into the land the Eternal promised us on our own.
Moses: 41 Why do you keep doing what you’re not supposed to do? You will not succeed in your efforts. 42-43 He will not accompany you, so you’re vulnerable on all sides. Because you’ve rejected the Eternal, you won’t have Him in your midst and on your side. When you run into the Amalekites and Canaanites, they will slay you on the spot.
44 Despite Moses’ protestations, the people tried. The chest of the Eternal’s covenant and Moses himself remained back in the camp. 45 Sure enough, the Amalekites and Canaanites who lived there descended upon them, attacked them, and chased them clear back to Hormah, which means the place of complete destruction.
15 The Eternal One spoke to Moses about sacrifices.
Eternal One: 2 Give the Israelites these instructions: “When you enter the land I determined would be yours, where you’ll settle and make your homes, 3-4 and when you burn a food offering, burnt offering, or sacrifice of meat from the herd or flock to make a pleasing aroma for Me; you should always accompany it with a grain offering—about two quarts of really good flour mixed with about one quart of oil. Do this whether your offering is a sworn vow or something you’re freely offering during the appointed festival. 5 Oh, and give a drink offering of some wine: about one quart for each lamb whenever you make a sacrifice or offering. 6 For bigger animals like a ram offer about four quarts of flour and about one and one-quarter quarts of oil, 7 and make about one and one-quarter quarts for the drink offering of wine. All of this will be a soothing aroma to Me. 8 For a bull (whether burnt or simply as a sacrifice to satisfy a promise or as an offering of well-being), 9 about six quarts of flour mixed with about two quarts of oil, 10 and make the drink offering two quarts of wine. Offer it by fire to make a soothing smell to Me. 11 This is how you should offer oxen or rams, male lambs, or young goats. 12 The specified accompaniments are for a single animal, so increase it based on the number of offerings you make. 13-14 Every Israelite should follow these instructions for an offering by fire to make a soothing smell for Me. Others who happen to be living among you temporarily or permanently should offer sacrifices in the same way. 15-16 There should be no difference throughout the community in this matter—Israelite or not—forever. You and the foreigner dwelling with you are the same, as I see it, so you all should follow the same rules and regulations.”
53 They led Jesus off to see the high priest, who had gathered a council of religious and civic leaders, scribes, chief priests, and elders to hear the evidence and render some decision regarding Jesus. 54 Peter followed, at a safe distance, all the way into the courtyard of the high priest, and he sat down with the guards to warm himself at their fire. He hoped no one would notice.
55 The chief priests and other religious leaders called for witnesses against Jesus so they could execute Him, but things didn’t turn out the way they had planned. 56 There were plenty of people willing to get up and accuse Jesus falsely, distorting what Jesus had said or done; but their testimonies disagreed with each other, and the leaders were left with nothing. 57 Some gave the following distorted testimony:
Witnesses: 58 We heard Him say, “I will destroy this temple that has been made by human hands, and in three days, I will build another that is not made by human hands.”
59 But even here the witnesses could not agree on exactly what He had said.
60 The high priest stood up and turned to Jesus.
High Priest: Do You have anything to say in Your own defense? What do You think of what all these people have said about You?
61 But Jesus held His peace and didn’t say a word.
Jesus, God’s Anointed, the Liberating King, has come not as a conquering king but as a sacrificial lamb who will die without defending Himself.
He is accused of setting Himself in the place of God, but He is innocent of that accusation because He is God. He does not defend Himself because His death protects from punishment the sinners who have made themselves like God ever since Adam ate the fruit in the garden.
High Priest: Are You God’s Anointed, the Liberating King, the Son of the Blessed One?
63 Then the high priest tore his clothes.
High Priest (to the council): What else do we need to hear? 64 You have heard the blasphemy from His own lips. What do you have to say about that?
The verdict was unanimous—Jesus was guilty of a capital crime.
65 So the people began to humiliate Him. Some even spat upon Him. Then He was blindfolded, and they slapped and punched Him.
People: Come on, Prophet, prophesy for us! Tell us who just hit You.
Then the guards took Him, beating Him as they did so.
66-67 While Peter was waiting by the fire outside, one of the servant girls of the high priest saw him.
Servant Girl: You were one of those men with Jesus of Nazareth.
Peter: 68 Woman, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
He left the fire, and as he went out into the gateway, [a cock crowed.][c]
69 The servant girl saw him again.
Servant Girl: Hey, this is one of them—one of those who followed Jesus.
Peter: 70 No, I’m not one of them.
A little later, some of the other bystanders turned to Peter.
Bystander: Surely you’re one of them. You’re a Galilean. [We can tell by your accent.][d]
71 And then he swore an oath that if he wasn’t telling the truth that he would be cursed.
Peter: Listen, I don’t even know the man you’re talking about.
He began to weep.
1 The foolish are convinced deep down that there is no God.
Their souls are polluted, and they commit gross injustice.
Not one of them does good.
2 From heaven the one True God examines the earth
to see if any understand the big picture,
if any seek to know the True God.
3 All have turned back to their wicked ways; they’ve become totally perverse.
Not one of them does good,
not even one.
4 Do the wicked relish their ignorance,
the wicked ones who consume My people as if they were bread
and fail to call upon the True God?
5 They trembled with great fear,
though they’d never been afraid before,
Because the True God ravaged the bones of those who rose against you.
You humiliated them because the True God spat them out.
6 Oh, that the liberation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When the True God reclaims His people,
let Jacob celebrate; let Israel rejoice.
4 Riches won’t matter on the day of wrath,
but right living will rescue from death.