Numbers 14

Numbers 14 demonstrates just how stubborn and stupid people can be.  Yes, it is easy to read the story and have 20/20 hindsight, but let’s face it, this people really didn’t understand what was happening.  “Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night”.  They had just heard the report of the spies who went to check out the promised land.  10 of them gave a bad report which the people believed, and “all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron”.  This didn’t work out well last time, so what do they do but grumble again.  No memory of the last time they did it.

But it went even further.  “Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt”?  You have to be crazy.  They want to “choose a leader and go back to Egypt”.  Hello – you just fled there after being enslaved for many years.  It was terrible, and now you want to return?  The two spies who saw things God’s way tried to even the playing field by telling them again that “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey”.  There is some reason to the people.

They give a very different outlook and report.  “Do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them”.  Caleb and Joshua know that God is with them.  The response?  The people want to stone them, and would have if God had showed up.  “The glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel”.  God is fed up and threatens to kill off the whole bunch for their unbelief.  But Moses once again intercedes.

He reminds God that “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression” and begs for God to “Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love”.  God offers to let them live, but there is a very stiff price for their disobedience as God says “none of the men who have seen my glory….and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers….except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun”.

The price for that disobedience was severe as God tells them “your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness”.  Talk about a legacy with a price.  These people sin against God and now their children will be shepherding in the wildnerness for 40 years while the entire bunch of them die off.  As for those “who returned and made all the congregation grumble…. They died by plague before the Lord”.

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