Items posted on 11 March 2011
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Numbers 14.1-21 – God’s concern for his glory
Posted: 11 March 2011 in Numbers

And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And  all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron:  and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in  the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!…. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. And Moses said unto the LORD….. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness….. And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

Whenever I come across a passage such as the one above, where Moses is pointing out to God the flaw in his plans, I am always left bemused at idea that God would respond along the lines of, “Wow! Good point. I had never thought of that!” Somehow that doesn’t seem to sit very easily with the idea of divine omniscience.

That said, in the present context, God seems to use the prayer as a way of making clear the reason for his forbearance – namely an overarching concern for the preservation of his own glory. Presumably that is why the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to pray it in the first place. That God has such a concern seems to be attested to many times the Bible. For example:

I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. (Isaiah 42.8)
or
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14.13)

At first sight this might seem to make God rather self obsessed, especially in view of his aseity, but the reason for it can be seen in the disorder which follows whenever his creatures try to draw some of God’s glory towards themselves. In comparatively recent history, I suppose the Nazis were the most appalling example of that.

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