Yesterday we talked about the importance of following our leaders, and today I would like to take a look at what happens when we don’t.
Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”
20 The LORD replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. 25 Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.[a]”
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.”
Once again, Moses pleaded for the people and God forgave them. (Man, look at that leadership!!!)However, please note that while God forgave, he also punished; there were consequences for those who went against God and their leaders. The naysayers, the ones who led the people astray were killed by a plaque. The ones who followed the naysayers, they were left to wander for 40 years and God promised that because of their disobedience anyone over twenty would never enter the Promised Land (that is all but two-Caleb and Joshua). It is important to note that even the leaders, even the ones who wanted to follow God’s direction, were left to wander as well.
Upon the death of the naysayers (scouts), the people began to realize what they had done. And like us, they then tried to fix it. However, some things just can’t be fixed. So, when they decided to go ahead and try to claim the land, it was an epic failure. Why? Because God was no longer in it. God had laid down the law and he saw their efforts as too little too late. Furthermore, their disobedience was evidence of their need for maturity.
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.
What are the lessons to be learned here in Numbers 12-14?
Well for me, the following things stood out:
1. Don’t be a naysayer: grumbling against leaders God has clearly put in charge and stirring up trouble in the camp;
2. Don’t let naysayers lead me into the wilderness: work constantly on my relationship with the Lord so I can be certain I am hearing His voice. I have to trust in the leadership He has ordained and understand that while God speaks to me, I am not in the role of leading the church;
3. There are consequences to my actions and inactions. I am responsible for following God’s directions and when I step out of the will of God, there will be consequences. Like a parent, God will punish, but there are also natural consequences that may come.
4. God is a God of second chances, but that does not mean it will be as good the second time around. I need to move when God tells me to move because tomorrow may be too late as was the case with the Israelites. Yes, the Israelites as a whole made it to the Promised Land, but many, many died before they ever got there. There was strife, turmoil, struggle after struggle. It was a lot harder wandering than it would have been to move when God told them to move the first time.
What is God trying to tell you?
Have a Blessed Day!