The spies had brought back to reports of the Promised Land
- Let us do it
- We can’t do this even though God has promised
The spies had come as representatives of each tribe, so they reports reflected the whole nation. Even going, we discover from the retelling in Deut 1:19-25 was the people’s idea not God’s. The Lord had allowed it to test the people and they failed. Fear and grumbling are contagious. So the people of Israel weep all night – mourning the fact that God wasn’t going to make it easy for them. That turned to resentment towards God in v3 and then grew into full blown unbelief and fear.
The rebellion starts with murmuring – firstly against Moses and Aaron and then pretty quickly towards God. They wished that they had died – the will get their wish, dying in the wilderness period. Then they accuse God of bringing them to be slaughtered. They longed for going back to Egypt, which was better. It wasn’t – the good old days, were actually awful! The murmuring turns into mutiny as they want another leader to go back v4. Joshua, Moses right hand, now speaks up, but the people aren’t listening. They are too busy looking for stones to kill the leaders.
Then in the midst of this in v10 we get a glorious “But” – the buts of scripture are often monumental – Eph 2:3 lets us know that our sinful passions outside of Christ meant we were children of wrath. In the very next verse we get “But God!” But God, being rich in mercy. But God made us alive in Christ. the buts of Scripture break into the worst of circumstances to brings God’s rescue and mighty interventions. In Number 14 the “but”, comes in the midst of the jostling, screaming and picking up stones. A fearful moment for Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb as nearly a million freak out. But. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people. God speaks and Moses intercedes on behalf of the people – remindingGod of His power v17 and His promises v18-19.
So on the strength of Moses intercession, God pardons them. The rebel spies will die. They had been tested for 40 days and failed. The people of God will now be tested for 40 years in the wilderness. The result will be a purified people without unbelief and rebellion.
The 10 die by plague and the people mourn and then immediately make a mess of it again! They have swung from the report of we can’t do this, all the way to let us do it. But let us do it presumptively v44 – without seeking God or Moses. They suffer another defeat.
What do learn from all this for daily life? Don’t be a murmuring, mumbling complainer – it is contagious and leads to rebellion and maybe even dying early! Take God’s promises, believe Him and seek Him before doing exploits for Him.