A futile invasion attempt

Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience, withdraws from Grace. (Thomas a Kampis - Sermon Central). … More


God assures Moses that he has forgiven the sin of disobedience by the people, but this forgiveness does not prevent the consequences. These results are as follows:

  1. The nation wanders in the wilderness for forty years, one year for each day the spies had spent spying out the land.
  2. Everyone included in the original census (twenty years and older) who murmured against God died in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb (vv. 26-30).
  3. The ten spies died in the wilderness because of the evil report they delivered (vv. 36-38).

As a result, Moses led the world’s longest funeral march and Joshua and Caleb watched their generation die. The immediate response of the people to the announcement of judgment was great mourning. They may have mourned greatly (v. 39) and said “We have sinned” (v. 40), but this mourning was regret and not true repentance. The Jews regretted the consequences but not the sins themselves. The Jews thought they could make a new beginning because God had granted them forgiveness, but they were wrong. An unbelieving people with an arrogant attitude could never defeat the heathen nations in Canaan. Sometimes right actions or good intentions come too late. We must not only do what is right, but also do it at the right time. God wants complete and instant obedience.

At about the same time, in a rash and spiteful spirit, they ascended a mountain in preparation for marching forward and they flippantly cried out in effect, “OK, we might as well go where Jehovah told us to go” (v. 40). Moses, who had just been warned by God not to advance into the hands of the Amalekites and Canaanites (v. 25), passed on this warning to the people (v. 42, 43). But they in their haughty self-confidence went anyway, without the Lord (v. 42), without the ark (v. 44), and without Moses while God’s warning (Deut. 1:41-42) came true and the Israelite army was soundly defeated.


I need to be very careful what I say to God in a complaining and disobedient way, because He may take me up on it. After all, God’s greatest judgment may be to let people have their own way.

Numbers 14:39-45 (English Standard Version)

When Moses told these words to all the people of Israel, the people mourned greatly. And they rose early in the morning and went up to the heights of the hill country, saying, "Here we are. We will go up to the place that the LORD has promised, for we have sinned." But Moses said, "Why now are you transgressing the command of the LORD, when that will not succeed? Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, lest you be struck down before your enemies. For there the Amalekites and the Canaanites are facing you, and you shall fall by the sword. Because you have turned back from following the LORD, the LORD will not be with you." But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses departed out of the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah.

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