October 26, 2016
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
God was so angry with the rebellion of ten of the twelve spies and also the whole nation of Israelites, that He immediately killed the ten “…who brought the evil report about the land…” (Numbers 14:37). Then He told Moses in Numbers 14:34 and 35 to tell the people:
“According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land,
forty days, each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty
years, and you shall know My rejection. I the LORD have spoken this.”
Here is what followed – as reported in our featured Scripture – Numbers 14:39 through 42:
Then Moses told these words to all the children of Israel, and the people
mourned greatly. And they rose up early in the morning, and went up to
the top of the mountain, saying, “…we will go up to the place which the
LORD has promised, for we have sinned.” Then Moses said, “Now why
do you transgress the command of the LORD? For this will not succeed.
Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies, for the LORD is not
And defeated they were! “Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in the mountain came down and attacked them, and drove them back as far as Hormah.” (Numbers 14:45). What can we learn from this?
• Sin has its price! Paul wrote in Galatians 6:7 through 9: “Do not be deceived…whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh, will of the flesh reap corruption….for in due season we shall reap….” In that Scripture the apostle points out this works for good as well as for bad. But I want to emphasize the latter because of what happened to the Israelites.
Someone once said, “Some folks sow their wild oats, and then pray for a crop failure!” Cute, but it does not work that way!
✞ A young couple ignores God’s prohibition against premarital sex. (See Ephesians 5:3). They repent of their sin and are forgiven. But they cannot undo some of the results of their actions – virginity lost forever, possible STD’s, perhaps an unwanted pregnancy, and if that happens, lives forever changed because of the responsibility of a child!
✞ A young person starts to use tobacco (I smoked my first cigarette at age 5!) and becomes addicted (by age 21 I smoked three packs a day!) He may quit entirely (I did 49 years ago!). But years later he still can be inflicted with lung cancer (although I had a lung cancer scare a few years ago, I have never come down with that awful disease!)
✞ A teenager experiments with drugs – just for a fun high, just once or twice! My brother did just that. But he became addicted, and he was a drug addict for over 55 years before he died at age 69!
The Israelites rebelled and were forgiven! Moses interceded again for the people (see Numbers 14:11-19), and God answered in Numbers 14:20, “I have pardoned, according to your word.” But they still had to pay the price of wandering another 38 years – 40 years total – in the wilderness!
• Don’t be presumptuous! The Israelites presumed that they could still be victorious in taking the land of Canaan, even though God through Moses commanded them not to go! “…the LORD is not among you…,” Moses told the people. I don’t know whether they did not trust Moses to give them God’s true word or not. But they acted on their own initiative and strength! As a result, they suffered a grave defeat. It does not say how many were killed by the Amalekites and the Canaanites, but it was probably a significant loss of fighting men.
When God closes a door, don’t try to pry it open! Don’t push ahead anyway when the LORD says “No! ” Sometimes God speaks through circumstances, or the counsel of other Christians, or sometimes in “…a still small voice.” (I Kings 19:12). Listen carefully, and then act in obedience! But often the directive is plainly revealed in the Bible! For instance, in II Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” And in I Corinthians 7:39, Paul gives this directive concerning widows: “…if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” A person who marries another becomes one with that person! (See Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5, 6; I Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:31). But how often does a young man or woman (older people also!) say, “We love each other! He (or she) may not be a Christian, but I will make him (or her) a believer!” But far too often, what happens? The unbelieving one brings down the Christian! And the one so sure of himself or herself ends up with a broken relationship and a damaged faith!
• Repentance must be genuine! It says in our Scripture, “…the people mourned greatly …saying, ‘…we have sinned.’ ” (Numbers 14:39 and 40). They sounded sincere! But true repentance involves seeing things as God sees them, and then acting appropriately – and they were following their own thinking! Paul wrote in II Corinthians 7:10, “For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, not to be regretted of; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” The Israelites were sorry for their disobedience, only because it involved the loss of good things promised! What God wanted was for them to see that their wicked hearts were in rebellion against His leadership!
Paul defines sin in Romans 3:23 as “…fall[ing] short of the glory of God.” Do you hold God’s glory before you? David prayed in I Chronicles 16:10, “Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD.” (See also Psalm 105:3). This is the attitude that leads to true repentance – desiring to restore and keep that close relationship with Him!