PRIDE AND PUNISHMENT
Dear God, charge my entire being with currents of gratitude. May I find many opportunities today to praise your name.
Read NUMBERS 14:26–45
26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. 28 So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: 29 In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. 32 But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. 34 For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’ 35 I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this wilderness; here they will die.”
36 So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it— 37 these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord. 38 Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.
39 When Moses reported this to all the Israelites, they mourned bitterly. 40 Early the next morning they set out for the highest point in the hill country, saying, “Now we are ready to go up to the land the Lord promised. Surely we have sinned!”
41 But Moses said, “Why are you disobeying the Lord’s command? This will not succeed! 42 Do not go up, because the Lord is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, 43 for the Amalekites and the Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the Lord, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.”
44 Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the highest point in the hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord’s covenant moved from the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIt isn’t easy to read Bible passages about God’s judgment. Spend a few moments focusing on the cross of Christ, and give thanks that Jesus died in our place, taking the punishment we deserve.
I was in my car, whining because I was stuck in traffic, late for a meeting, and in a foul mood. I honked my horn, twice. Imagine my horror when I turned the corner and saw the reason for the hold up: a hearse was bringing a coffin to church for a funeral!
The consequence of those angry honks hit me immediately, like the faithless spies’ punishment (v 37). But sometimes the consequences of our actions take time to be worked out, like the people’s punishment of forty years’ wandering in the wilderness (v 34).
The people ‘mourned bitterly’ that night (v 39), but had learned the wrong lesson; it wasn’t ‘you can win’, but ‘listen to the Lord your God’. Moses begged them not to go (v 41) – why? Because the people of the land were too strong for the Israelites (see 13:31), so they would lose without God fighting for them – and so they did (v 44,45). To listen to God and do what he says is a hard lesson to learn for proud people. That doesn’t include us though, does it?
Hebrews encourages us to heed the warning of the rebellion of these people (Hebrews 3,4). Ask God to help you see if and how you have been ignoring something he’s been telling you to do or to stop.
Sovereign Lord, as I read today’s passage, I am reminded of the wisdom of the hymn, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey”. (Trust and Obey hymn by John Sammis)
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