Reading today from Numbers chapters 13 – 15.
The observations today will focus on verses 35 – 39 of chapter 14.
“I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against Me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.’ And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD. But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still. And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.” Numbers 14:35-39 (KJV)
It does not immediately say it in this text or context, but the reason for the sending of the twelve “spies” into the land of Canaan was that the people wanted it. You can read it in Deuteronomy chapter 1; particularly verses 19-33. Some will look at this and say that contradicts the other statement by God in Numbers 13:1-2; however, what we have is a clearer understanding. Interpreting the Bible is not simply the understanding of taking a single verse and coming up with a theology, or an understanding. Scripture must be interpreted in light of other Scripture.
On to the verses above. The people had refused to go into Canaan without first sending some “spies” into the land. I can understand their apprehension and fear, but that doesn’t make it right. They needed to simply believe God, and take Him at His Word. When twelve men were chosen to go and scout out the land; to see its beauty, its bounty, and its enemies God was allowing them to do so; telling Moses to go ahead and send them. They were about to find out that they still weren’t trusting the LORD.
When these men came back from their expedition ten of them were very negative about what they saw with hearts of unbelief. There only words were filled with “but” or as the KJV says “Nevertheless” (13:26-30). They saw the land and its beauty and bounty, but they saw the people were large and powerful.
Joshua [Oshea] and Caleb saw the land and its beauty and determined that God had promised the land; so let’s go take it as God has said. Evidently democracy won out, and God determined to make them wander in the wilderness for forty years. It is often the case when men rebel against God, and try to rule, that God overrules. The spies died on the spot due to their unbelief, except for Joshua and Caleb.
Something I thought of as I read this morning was that Joshua and Caleb were given an assurance they would enter the Promised Land. They would not see death. Who do you know that has a forty year guarantee of living? Living to see the Promised Land kept them on the direction of seeing God’s plan carried out.
I know a people today who not only have a promise of life, but eternal life. Jesus said,
“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” John 11:25, 26
Let’s believe and follow the promises of God through His Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins; was buried, carrying away the condemnation of sin; and rose bodily from the grave justifying us forever in the sight of God the Father.
Remember to read Numbers 13 – 15.
-Tim A. Blankenship