Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them.” Numbers 14:13

When the people rebelled against their God-appointed leaders and refused to enter the Promised Land, God wanted to destroy the whole nation and start again with Moses. However notice Moses’ first response, “the Egyptians will hear about it.” His first concern was the Lord’s reputation. He was worried that the Egyptians would conclude, “The LORD was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness” (verse 16).

Moses was more disturbed about God’s integrity amongst a pagan nation, then excited about the possibility of becoming a great nation (verse 12). I wonder do we consider the Lord’s reputation, especially when we’re tempted to behave poorly?

People who know we are Christians rightly connect our actions to our relationship with God. When Nathan confronts David over his adulterous affair and murder of Uriah, he tells him that his child will die because “… you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14 NKJV). Our actions are more far-reaching than we realise.

Moses’ second request is for the Lord to display his strength in terms of patience, love and forgiveness, not in terms of destruction. “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. … In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people’” (verses 17-19).

When we’ve experienced the depth of the Lord’s patience, love and forgiveness, we want to honour the Lord and make his character known. His reputation will become our first concern.

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