Over the last week I have been studying Numbers 13 and 14. It’s the section of scripture where Moses sends 12 spies into the Promise Land to see what the people are like, how big the cities are, and how rich the land is. The spies come back and report that the land is unbelievable (flowing with milk and honey), but that the cities are large and fortified and that the people are like giants. God assures his people that he will fight for them and that all they need to do to be victorious is step out and trust him. But, as is the case for me so many times, the people fail to trust God. They are intimidated by the people and the resistance they know they are going to face. And, as a result, God tells them that they will wander around in the desert for 40 years. That’s a long time, but God declared that none of the adults who were alive then would ever enter the Promise Land – except for Joshua and Caleb (the only 2 spies who encourage the people to trust God). I guess God is pretty put off by unbelief!

All that’s interesting, but the part of the story that really got me was the way that Moses acted as a mediator between the people and God. After the people sin against God, Moses goes to God and begs him to forgive the people and relent from destroying them. Here is how his plea reads in Numbers 14:17-19

[17] And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, [18] ‘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.’ [19] 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.” (Numbers 14:17-19 ESV)

What a bold move by Moses. He definitely had a unique relationship with God. And, maybe more amazing was that God heard his cry and responded to it. God relented of the destruction that he wanted to bring about to Israel. Verse 21 states that He does in fact forgive them, but he still will not let them enter the Promise Land. He essentially says that he forgives them, but that there are going to be repercussions for their disobedience. As a mediator, Moses is able to fight for the forgiveness of the people, and God responds to that plea, but he is unable to fight for life and blessing. God forgives, but the people wander in the wilderness for 40 years!

As I’ve read and reread this passage over the last week, I keep thinking to myself – I am glad that we have a better mediator! Moses serves as the mediator for the people of Israel, but in many ways he points to a better mediator (Heb 3:1-6) who was yet to come – Jesus Christ. For those of us in Christ, he is now our mediator. Paul states this clearly in 1 Timothy when he writes, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” And, he is not only our mediator, but he is a far superior mediator to Moses. He reigns supreme in this role for a few reasons:

  1. He not only pleas with God for our forgiveness, but he purchases it. (Eph 1:7, Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 10)
  2. He constantly intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34)
  3. He destroys the hold that the fear of death once held on humanity. (Hebrews 2:14-15)
  4. He not only purchases our forgiveness, but earns for us new life! (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:4)

What Moses could do in part, Jesus does in whole. Moses is unable to move beyond forgiveness to newness of life, but Jesus ushers his people into to life abundant. There is no need for wandering if we are in Him!