We read in the book of Numbers, chapter 13, that Moses sent 12 leaders of Israel to Canaan to spy out the land according to God’s commandment.
“Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.” (Numbers 13:1-2)(NASB)
On their return, after a 40-day journey, the spies reported to Moses and the crowd all they had seen. Ten of them “gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out” and only Caleb and Joshua, animated “by another spirit,” returned with confidence that God could give them the country “flowing with milk and honey”.
“Thus they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan. ”Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:27-33)(NASB)
Unfortunately, the 10 spies managed to frighten the children of Israel, and all the people began to grumble against Moses.
“ All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2-3)(NASB)
As a result of this, the Lord swears to Moses that this generation of people, who has tested Him many times, will not enter the promised land but will wander through the wilderness for 40 years until they perish. Their children, however, will inherit the promised land.
Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey—I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. I, the Lord, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die.’ (Numbers 14:28-35)(NASB)
Yesterday I wrote an article based on Chapter 14 of Numbers, which I called “A lesson from the experience of the rebellious.” Today I would like us to learn some lessons from Israel’s story. While listening to what the Lord is telling you, think about the following aspects of your life (I will quote the application questions on page 18 of the inductive Bible study course “Numbers: when you pass through the wilderness, trust in God”):
- What you do: do you hurry to accept something just for the simple fact that the people around you think it’s good or feel good or do you have another benchmark with which you evaluate the value of a thing, a person, action, etc. ? Remember, on their return, the men who spied the country were divided into two groups: in a group there were ten, and the other two. However, the assessment of the situation by the majority group was wrong.
- Are you ready to join a crowd and condemn a leader whom others are suddenly dissatisfied with, even if that person is an example of integrity and a person who has been of great help in the past? Remember that in Numbers 14 all the assembly was ready to kill Moses with stones because they believed the report of the 10 spies about the difficulties they might have faced in the future.
- Are you ready to believe something that another person said and then murmur instead of doing everything without mumbling and hesitation? The people chose to believe the report of the ten spies instead of believing the promise of God.
- Do your children suffer because you resisted God and His Word for years? Remember, because of the disobedience of their parents, the children of Israel, who were less than twenty years of age, were forced to wander for 40 years in the wilderness.
- Are you a person who doesn’t keep calm when facing difficulties and alarming news, or do you believe God on the word and rest in His promise, letting all things work for your good, because you love the Lord?
- Are you like Moses, who was more interested in the glory of God than in his own glory?
- What do you do when you get into a difficult situation: do you hurry to murmur and essentially say: “Why did not I die before all this happened?” or “Now what will we choose?” or: “Surely life was easier before receiving Christ.”
- Do you think you can be willingly disobedient to God, confess your sin and then expect everything to be like before, without your sin having consequences?
Stop and think about these things.
Translated by Elizaveta Bîrlădeanu