God just finished telling Moses that this group of people would NOT be inheriting the Promised Land. They would die by the wayside. But again, they didn’t listen.
Moses shared all the words that God told him privately. He explained how they would be stuck in the wilderness for another 40 years; one for each day of the spy mission. He told them that ALL the men entered into the roles were going to die before God led them in. He specified that their children would be the ones to inherit His promises, not them. He couldn’t have been any clearer if he had shown them an Eye Witness Account of the events as they took place.
God left no doubt in Moses’ mind about their future. There was no going back to the way things used to be. The damage had been done and it was irreparable. God had no faith in this faithless generation. He knew that if He gave them “one more chance” they would blow it, just as before. And here they are about to prove Him right.
The people were understandably upset by Moses’ words. They had spent the last couple years in the wilderness and were looking forward to it being over. With the report of the spies they had decided that pushing forward wasn’t an option. But then God made His presence known again. It was like an “oh yeah, I remember Him” moment. “That’s right! He is powerful.” But that realization came WAY too late.
After Moses shared the news of the new plan with them the people did something they figured would win back God’s favor. They “repented of their sin” and decided to go back to the original plan. I’m curious about their “repentance.” Were they sorry for what they did or sorry for the consequences they had earned? I have a feeling it was the latter and I believe God knew it too.
God knows TRUE repentance when He hears it. It is a heart breaking for the pain it caused to another, including to God. It is NOT an “I’m sorry for myself and what I lost” attitude. It is also not grudgingly saying “I’m sorry” because you think it will get you what you want after all. I honestly don’t think the Israelites were sorry for their sin; just its impact on their future.
They compounded their sin by ignoring God’s decision. They believed that they could get back on God’s good side if they did what He originally told them to do. But it was too late. The window of opportunity for this group of people was closed as tightly as the ark door the day the rains began to fall. No matter how hard they tried they couldn’t open the way that God had shut.
Moses knew this and so did Aaron. Previously in battle, Moses would have went up with them as a representative of God and the battle would have ended in His favor. But God wasn’t going to battle with them again. If/When they went; it was on their own might. The spies had rightly told them the truth regarding such a battle. They would be, and were, defeated. They didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in the heat of the desert in winning without Him. And since God wasn’t going neither did Moses, Aaron or the ark.
The people tried to force God into doing it their way. Their dead bodies proved what a bad idea that was. We are not told how many died that day but I’m guessing it was quite a few. We are told that the “Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah” (verse 45). These would be the second group of the men listed in the census to die since God’s decision. The first group was the ten spies.
These deaths were senseless. Yes, they would die without seeing God’s promise fulfilled but they didn’t have to throw their lives away. But their stubbornness won out once again. They would have used up the “next chance” in this operation if God had given one to them. Going when He says don’t go is just as bad as not going when he says to go. Following HIS lead was what He required; no matter where that “lead” took them.
Father God, I PRAY I’m following where You lead WHEN You lead. I never want to go where You say is off limits. I never want to go when You say wait. I want to go only where You send me. And I NEVER want to go alone. If You are not going then neither am I! That is the only way I want to go anywhere.
Forgive me for the times I forged ahead in our journey. Not because I “got caught” or “punished” but because it messed up our relationship. I don’t want anything between us. Whatever it is it is NOT more important than our relationship. Help me always to cherish our time together.