Reading through the Bible together

Saturday, August 25, 2012

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The people of Israel believed the ten spies, and by their unbelief, they placed themselves under the control of Satan. The whole congregation revolted, and mutiny followed. They seemed bereft of reason, and accused not only Moses, but God Himself of deception in promising them a land they could not possess.

 

When Joshua and Caleb tried to reason with them, the cry went up to stone them. Only the glory of God’s presence stopped them. Moses interceded, and God promised to spare the people from immediate destruction, but their punishment would be 40 years in the desert, just as the spies had traveled 40 days in the land.

 

This was not a harsh, arbitrary punishment. Because of their unbelief and cowardice, God could not manifest His power to subdue their enemies. Therefore, in His mercy, he bade them, as the only safe course, to turn back toward the Red Sea.

 

The ten spies, smitten by a plague, died before the people, and in them they all saw their doom. Now their rage turned to sorrow, but not because of their ingratitude and disobedience, but at the terrible consequences. Their sorrow was not repentance, and could not secure a reversal of the sentence. When God commanded them to return to the desert, He tested their apparent submission and it proved not to be genuine.  They refused to turn back. Moses, Joshua & Caleb felt bitter disappointment too, yet without a murmur they accepted God’s decision. But to those who had so easily complained, now God gave them a cause to complain. What they had refused to do when God required it, now they took it upon themselves to do something to merit God’s favor. “We have sinned against God, we will go up and fight according to all…God commanded us.” God had never commanded them to fight. It was not His purpose that they gain the land by warfare. This was evidenced 40 years later in the taking of Jericho.

 

They went up without Moses and without the ark, and were defeated. Forced into submission, they “wept before the Lord” but “the Lord would not hearken.”

 

The enemies of Israel who had waited with trembling at their approach, now were inspired with confidence to resist them. All the marvelous reports they had heard of what God had done for Israel, they now regarded as false. Nothing remained for Israel but to fall back into the wilderness, knowing that it would be the grave of that whole generation.

 

Nancy Costa

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