REGRET OR REPENTANCE?
Father, forgive me that I often want Your blessings more than I want You. Help me desire You from my heart.
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)
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ReflectWhen is obedience not obedience?
God is just. His punishment fits the crime (28): the people wanted to die in the desert (2); God says they will (29). They didn’t want to enter the land (3); God says they won’t (30). They want to return to Egypt (3,4); God sends them back towards the Red Sea (25). They feared their wives and children would suffer (3); God says they will because of their fathers’ sins (33).
But God is also loving and merciful. He doesn’t wipe out the people. He keeps his promises. His people will enter the land. It will just take a little longer because they didn’t trust him. Instead of the Exodus taking a few months, it will take 40 years. And it will be this people’s children who go in.
Sadly, all this is lost on the Israelites. The story from verse 39 onwards is not of a people who repent but who are regretful. They are more sorry for what they’re missing out on, rather than focused on turning their hearts back to God. So they try to invade the land in their own strength. Moses warns them that this is also disobeying God (41,42). But they happily go ahead without any of the signs of God’s presence with them (44), and they are defeated (45).
When you pray, are you seeking what God can do for you or what you can do for him? Examine your heart as you come before God today.
Sit quietly in God’s presence and wait for him to speak to you.