What does it say?
The rebellion deepens and the people threaten to replace Moses, stone both Caleb and Joshua, anoint a new leader, and head back to Egypt (Num 14). Moses prays a powerful prayer of intercession to spare the people. God spares the people but decrees that this generation will die in the desert.
Having condemned a generation to “life imprisonment” in the desert, God gives instruction for the generation that will finally enter the land (Num 15). Other peoples may join with Israel, but all will live under God’s law. Provision exists to cover sins of ignorance, but no provision is given for deliberate sin. The stoning of a man that violates the Sabbath illustrates the seriousness of the Law. God commands the nation to highlight their clothing in blue to remind them of his call upon their lives.
Psalm 90 comes into our Bible reading schedule because it’s the psalm that Moses wrote. For many centuries Bible students have divided the Psalms into five “books” corresponding to the Pentateuch, these five books of Moses. Psalm 90 begins the fourth book matching Numbers and could well have been written during these wasted 38 years of waiting.
What does it mean?
J. Sidlow Baxter said, “It only took forty hours to get Israel out of Egypt; but it took forty years to get Egypt out of Israel.” Salvation takes places in a moment of time on this side of the Cross; being a disciple takes a lifetime.
The statement that follows God’s sentencing a generation to die in the desert is instruction for the generation of Israel that comes into the land. Our sin may delay God’s plan, but cannot cancel it. No matter how often or completely we fail God is always faithful.
As you read Psalm 90, try to place yourself in Moses’ mind now that you understand a bit of his life’s context.
How will I respond?
Does someone come to my mind that has wasted his or her life? Why? What mistakes were made? Can I see some parallels with this generation of Israel? What one action step can I take to avoid wasting my life?