But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.
And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”
But Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, O Lord, are in the midst of this people. For you, O Lord, are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them and you go before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if you kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard your fame will say, ‘It is because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to give to them that he has killed them in the wilderness.’ And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”
Then the Lord said, “I have pardoned, according to your word. But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it.” Numbers 14:10b-23 ESV
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds. Psalm 57:9-10 ESV
Do you know what a bond is? A bond is a legal document that promises that someone who owes someone else money will pay it back. A bond is a little like an IOU. You might write an IOU to your friend if you borrow some money. If you forget to repay your friend, he or she might show you the IOU to prove that you owe them the money. A bond has more power legally than an IOU, and is used for a lot more money. There’s a saying that talks about an honest person and says that the person’s word is as good as a bond. That means that this person is completely trustworthy. If he or she promises to do something, there’s no need for a legal piece of paper. You can count on that person to keep whatever promise is made.
God was very angry with the people of Israel. They didn’t trust him to bring them to the promised land and even wanted to go back to slavery in Egypt after he had so powerfully freed them. He threatened to send them a terrible plague, and even worse, to stop calling them his people. But Moses pleaded to God for them. He reminded God of his promises to call them his people and bring them to the promised land. He told God that the other nations of the world would see how he had turned away from them and would think that he wasn’t strong enough to save or help them. Moses knew that God is faithful and trustworthy. He could appeal to the promises God had made, because God’s word is as good as his bond. God heard Moses’ prayer, and forgave the people. But he also had to punish them. The people who complained would not see the promised land. The people of Israel would have to wait for a long time, until all the older people who complained had died. Only their children would reach the promised land.
We can always count on God’s promises because he is completely trustworthy. Our sins make us unworthy to come into his kingdom, but he sent Jesus to die on the cross so our sins could be forgiven. He promises that everyone who believes in Jesus becomes one of his people, and will live with him in his promised new world forever. God sends us his Holy Spirit to help us stay faithful to him, and to keep us trusting in what Jesus did for us.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being a God who keeps your promises, and for making us your people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.