Numbers 14: 12 spies ‘bad’ and ‘faithful’ reports on the Land

Not only did the people believe the “evil” report, they actually wanted to stone the two spies who brought back the faithful report.

God had this “set up” in advance. That’s hard for us to believe because we don’t think of God that way. God told Abraham all of this in advance. He told Abraham the children of Israel would be enslaved and that He would liberate them from their slavery. He liberated the children of Israel from their physical slavery at the Red Sea but they still had to be liberated of their spiritual slavery.

Joshua and Caleb went into the land “with a different spirit” and saw a land of “milk and honey.” The other spies had a spirit in them that only saw the giants in their land and their military might. Joshua and Caleb saw opportunity, the other spies only saw defeat.

In Numbers 14:2, the verse is translated as “grumbled” but the Hebrew word ‎לון lun (Strong’s H3885b) is more accurately translated as “stopped against” which means that the people, have stopped God’s spirit and preventing it from taking hold and progressing forward. They stopped wanting to go into the Land. Up to this point, the overarching goal of the people had been to enter the promised land. After hearing the report of the 10 spies, they stopped wanting to return to the land. Even worse, they had decided at this point to return to Egypt. They actively tried to nominate a leader to lead them back to Egypt.

Joshua and Caleb tried to reassure the people that the perceived strength of the people then in the land would fade away at their approach just as the manna that appears in the morning, fades away by noon. But the people didn’t want to believe their report and chose to believe the evil report instead.

God punished the ten spies for their report and they died in a plague.

Paul tells us that these stories are for our admonition. We should listen to this story carefully. God’s love takes a lot of power and action. God’s love will destroy His enemies and our enemy.

The people tried to “repent” by taking the Land, but God, through Moses warned them not to do so but they continued to ignore God’s counsel and were killed when they tried to take the land without God’s cover.

God treats this so seriously that he compares it to adultery. In Num. 14:33, He tells the people, “Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness.”

The word translated as “unfaithfulness” ‎זנות  zenuth (Strong’s H2184) is more accurately translated as “harlotry” or “prostitution.” Their conspiracy to go back to Egypt was adultery in God’s eyes and God punished that adultery by putting upon them their own prophesy of dying in the wilderness. Only after that adulterous generation died would God bring the people of Israel back to the Land to conquer it.

God was long-suffering to the people. He had put up with their grumbling multiple times.  Mercy and repentance come after judgement. The edict of not going into the land was a judgement. The people didn’t accept it by trying to enter the land anyway.

Do we want justice and brings mercy or justice that brings death? We receive justice and mercy when we repent but we receive justice and death when we refuse to repent and acknowledge God’s judgement. The people who had rebelled and acknowledged God’s judgement by accepting God’s word that He would not give them the land were given mercy and allowed to continue to live. The people who refused to repent and instead try to take the Land after the judgement received death. A contrite heart accepts judgement and doesn’t ask for mercy.

We are being judged now. This is why when we find ourselves stumbling and God judges us, we need to repent with every part of us.

This incident was a very serious test in the lives of the people of Israel at this time and they failed it.

Speaker: Richard Agee. Reader: David De Fever.


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