We left last time at the end of Moses’ plea for God to pardon the people. This time we will hear God’s response.
God didn’t give the people what they deserved. He also didn’t kill them on the spot. Instead He “pardoned” them because of Moses. But pardoning them didn’t mean they were forgiven or free of repercussions for their actions. Their behavior would cost them their future. The future that God had intended for them.
Two of the men out of the twelve who spied out the land remained faithful. Those two would live to see God’s promise fulfilled. The other ten died that day. The rest of the men enrolled in the census would also die without seeing God’s promise. God pardoned them from the immediate death sentence but not from the repercussions of their actions.
When God made His statement about pardoning the people and His promise that “none of the men who have seen My glory and My signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers” (verses 22-23a) all the people who were gathered for the report heard Him. He had just finished stepping in to prevent them from stoning Caleb. His power was evident at that moment. Moses then interceded for the people, still in their presence. And God gave His answer while they listened in. They continued to listen in until He had told them to turn back into the wilderness.
I’m not sure if His voice then became unintelligible to the people or they left at that point, but God spoke His next words directly to Moses and Aaron. God now shares with these two trusted men the extent of His displeasure with the people and the cost they will be paying. Not only are they “not going into the promised land” but they are going to die along the way. “Your dead bodies shall fall in the wilderness, and of all your number listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun” (verses 29-30).
God also promises the people that they will have a difficult time while wandering in the wilderness. Their lives are going to take on a new layer; that of waiting for the last one of them to die. They would also be tasked with teaching their children the cost of following God and the cost of NOT following Him. They would pay the second in full.
The last part of God’s judgement for that day was to punish the men who brought the bad report. They were the ones who brought discouragement into the camp. They brought fear and doubt. They could have come with the same report that Caleb brought but they didn’t see God as capable of caring for their lives. So He took them instead. They were to pay for their part in Israel’s rebellion that very day with their lives.
Four men standing that day had faith in God and His promises. Their lives would continue on in that track. God didn’t say that Moses and Aaron would see His promise; only Caleb and Joshua. Was this primarily because of their ages? They were both well advanced in years before even entering the wilderness. Now they would be wandering for another 40 years. God could have miraculously extended their live but He didn’t promise He would. Moses’ life was extended quite a bit but his actions later on earned him the same sentence the rest of the men received. He was at least would be allowed to see the Promised Land from a distance before his death.
Sin has consequences. Yes. God forgive us of our sins when we come to Him but there are still consequences for our actions. Sometimes those consequences are small and easily handled but other times they change our future forever.
God is a “gentleman” and won’t force you to follow where He leads. But when we resist His pull we miss out on the wonders He had planned for us. Israel pulled back and refused to follow His lead. They would never realize the fullness He had for them. I wonder if someone would have shown them the “price tag” on their sin BEFORE they committed it if it would have changed their actions. Probably not because God gave them MORE than enough chances to learn this lesson. Am I willing to risk missing out on what God has for me because of fear? I PRAY NOT!
Father God, I feel for the people and I also feel for You. I understand they were afraid. But I also KNOW that they had PLENTY of evidence if they would have just opened their hearts to You. I have said MANY times that I want to shake those people and ask them WHY they didn’t believe. But I don’t know for CERTAIN how I would have behaved in their place. I PRAY I would have stood with Caleb and Joshua. I believe I would have but I didn’t face that day in their sandals.
I feel for You because You poured out Your heart to these people who said one minute they loved You and then turned their backs in the next. The same group that grumbled because the menu wasn’t broad enough. The same group who demanded other gods because Moses was gone too long. The same group who REPEATEDLY said You were trying to kill them. The same group You gave the bread from Your own table. The same group You gave fresh water to drink. The same group You protected in battle. The same group You restored TEN times over. And the same group who You daily lived with. HOW COULD THEY NOT SEE!!!
Please God help me open my eyes to see ALL You have done for me. Help me know Your voice and follow where You lead. Please don’t let me pull back so hard that I miss what You have in store for me. Let me see the promises that wait for me ONLY by following You. That is the future I want with ALL my heart!