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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: May 25, 2023

Numbers 16:41-17:13

When the Israelites grumble against Moses and Aaron, when they complain about death swallowing up and incinerating Korah and his fellow rebels, they say to them “you have killed the people of the LORD” What do they mean by this?

Well, sure, the Israelites can be a bit knuckle-headed. But they’re not dumb. They know that Moses himself couldn’t command the earth to open up and swallow up the households of Dathan and Abiram. They know that Moses didn’t have the power to make fire come out of the sanctuary of the Lord when it consumed Korah and all the would-be priests of his rebellion. They know that God did those things. So why do they blame Moses and Aaron?

It’s because, in their minds, God is dad. Aaron and Moses are mom. And mom’s job is to keep dad from flying off the handle. Mom’s job is to talk sense into Dad when He’s pouring out way too much wrath. “Moses, you should have talked sense into God and made Him realize He didn’t need to get so angry. Moses, your job is talk God down, but you clearly talked Him up because you want to keep your position as our sole interceder. Well, we can be a better mom than you. We’ll intercede for ourselves directly. Surely God won’t kill us all.” That’s what they think right before learning it’s unwise to call God’s bluff.

This mindset is one that permeates through Christendom today as well. “Pastor, I know what God has said about my sin. I know what the Bible says about my divorce, but it’s your job to tell God that my circumstances were different. I know what the Bible says about my anger, but it’s your job to calm God down and make Him see that my anger is justified. I know God says you can’t be a Christian and despise His gifts, but I need you to convince God that my kids can still be Christians despite despising His gifts. Tell Dad to calm down. That’s your job as Mom.”

But Moses’s job wasn’t to talk God down off the ledge. His job was to speak the words God spoke, both God’s word of warning and His word of pardon. And sometimes, quite strangely, but still quite faithfully, Moses’ job was to pour out the mercy of God on His people even while God’s people were enduring the consequences of their sin, as we saw when he sent Aaron into the midst of the plague-ridden people with the atoning incense of God.

In the same way, your pastor’s job is not to save you from God, but to give you God’s word that saves you from the condemnation you heaped upon yourself. His job is to preach both Law and Gospel, to call you to repentance and to pour out the Gospel upon you, even as you may well be enduring the consequences of your sin. When you open your own veins with sin, the pastor’s job is not to tell God to stop you from bleeding. The pastor’s job is to close the wounds of your soul with the wounds of Christ, as your Father in heaven has commanded him to do. Dad and Mom, as parents often tell their children, are on the same team. Your Father in Heaven and your mother the Church are working together. Don’t separate what God has joined together.

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