By Glenn Metts
Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church, Seymour
Focal Passage: Numbers 14: 5-19
The idea of God judging our sin, our disobedience and lack of faith is not one of our favorite subjects. The truth is that God is love, but He is also a God that will punish our sin and disobedience. When we come to Numbers 14:5-19, we see the heartbreaking story of the consequences of disobeying God. God had a land flowing with milk and honey awaiting His people.
Yet, because of their lack of faith and disobedience, a whole generation of people were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. There are several lessons we need to learn from this passage…
(1) The people forgot who God was and what He had done for them. In verses 5-10, Moses and Aaron fell down with their faces to the ground in front of the whole assembly. Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes at the people’s response to the negative report of ten of the spies.
How could they have forgotten so quickly how God had miraculously delivered them out of Egypt? The Life Application Study Bible Commentary stated, “God had led the Israelites out of slavery, through the desolate desert, and up to the very edge of the promised land. He had protected them, fed them, and fulfilled every promise. Yet when encouraged to take that last step of faith and enter the promised land, the people refused. After witnessing so many miracles, why did they stop trusting God?” Could it be that we also forget how God has been faithful to us in the past? Could it be that we also forget His promises, His power and His love for us? When we lose sight of how great and mighty our God is, we too can respond in fear and disobedience, rather than faith.”
(2) They responded with fear and disobedience instead of faith. In verse nine, Joshua and Caleb pleaded with the people by saying, “Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”
Yet, the congregation was ready to stone Joshua and Caleb at that point. They feared the report of enemies of great stature and giants. They failed to respond with faith in God, who had already miraculously dealt with their enemies in the past. Do we respond to our enemies, our difficulties, our challenges and problems with fear, or faith? We need to remember the words of Joshua and Caleb, “the LORD is with us.” When our faith falters, disobedience will soon follow. We strengthen our faith by feeding on God’s Word and His promises to us.
(3) They experienced the judgment of God. God became impatient with the people’s grumbling and complaining. Moses interceded on behalf of the people. He recognized that the LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression. Yet, God declared that because the people had not heeded His voice (v. 22), that generation would not enter the promised land. Sin always has consequences.
Our failure to trust God and His promises leads to judgment. I want to leave you with one more thought. D.A. Carson said this, “If you want to see what judgment looks like, go to the cross. If you want to see what love looks like, go to the cross.” Thank God for the forgiveness we have in Christ! Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith! B&R