Numbers 14

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Following the 10 spies’ bad report, Israel’s near unanimous response and decision was fear, expectation of defeat, condemnation of the Lord, and complete rejection of God’s plan. Only Caleb and Joshua urged them to trust the Lord and follow him, but the people responded by calling for their deaths.

The Lord told Moses the people deserved nothing less than total annihilation, but Moses prayed for mercy on the basis of God’s character and fame. God told Moses he would not destroy them all then, but would destroy everyone who disbelieved and rebelled over the course of 40 years wandering in the wilderness (one year for every day they spied out the land). Only Joshua and Caleb would live to see the promised land. Immediately the 10 spies who brought the bad report died of the plague.

The next day many Israelites, instead of obeying the Lord to return to the wilderness, presumptuously disobeyed the Lord’s command and determined to attack the Canaanites. They received no support from Moses, and the ark of the covenant did not go with them. They were consequently defeated and driven back.

  1. Determined disobedience against the Lord brings God’s righteous judgment. Such is fueled by doubt of God and guided by unbelieving men’s assessment. It is rebellion against God, a rejection against God, disbelief of him, testing him, complaining against him, gathering together against him, transgressing his command, turning away from the Lord, and acting presumptuously. “Because you have turned away from the Lord, the Lord will not be with you.”
  2. Israel’s sins against the Lord, despite his presence and blessing, serves as a lesson throughout Scripture against unbelief, disobedience, testing God, and presumption. Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.
  3. God’s glory will be universally evident: “All the Earth shall be filled with a glory of the Lord,” (v. 21). His every promise will be accomplished, enjoyed only by those who believe him.
  4. The believer’s hope of success lies with God’s promised presence and his gracious favor (vv. 8-9). Such compels and enables trusting obedience in the face of impossible circumstances.
  5. Believing prayer appeals to God’s unchanging character and unqualified glory (vv. 13-19). Such prayer is directed by God’s Word (v. 17) and depends on his great mercy (vv. 18-19).
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