The people revolt. The LORD sentences them. Moses intercedes. The sins of the fathers.
VERSE 1. All the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
VERSE 2. All the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “We wish that we had died in the land of Egypt, or that we had died in this wilderness!
the children of Israel murmured against Moses. They complained.
Complaining is kryptonite to the superpower of our faith. And it is offensive to the LORD God.
Some people are always complaining. Or arguing. Those are destructive habits. They harm the individual. And the community. They need to STOP. Read more »
VERSE 3. Why does the LORD bring us to this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will be captured or killed! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return into Egypt?”
let’s return into Egypt. This is the ultimate irony.
Once people are liberated from their bondage, they seem to want to go back to it.
Proverbs 26:11. As a dog that returns to his vomit, so is a fool who repeats his folly.
VERSE 5. Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
fell on their faces. That is, they fell face down to the ground.
VERSE 6. Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were of those who spied out the land, tore their clothes.
VERSE 7. They spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land.
an exceedingly good land. Joshua and Caleb speak the truth about the Promised Land.
VERSE 8. If the LORD delights in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it to us: a land which flows with milk and honey.
If the LORD delights in us. This is a great idea!
Do you live in such way that the LORD God delights in you?
VERSE 9. Only don’t rebel against the LORD, neither fear the people of the land; for they are bread for us. Their defense is removed from over them, and the LORD is with us. Don’t fear them.”
Joshua and Caleb speak powerful words of TRUTH into the nation:
don’t rebel against the LORD. This is how we live as a disciple of the LORD God.
neither fear the people of the land. We believers should fear nobody.
they are bread for us. That is, we can mow them down.
the LORD is with us. That has always been true:
1 Chronicles 17:8. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you. I will make you a name like the name of the great ones who are in the earth.
VERSE 10. But all the congregation threatened to stone them with stones. The LORD’s glory appeared in the Tent of Meeting to all the children of Israel.
threatened to stone them with stones. The people don’t want the truth. Instead, they want the lie.
Romans 1:25. who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
VERSE 11. The LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? How long will they not believe in me, for all the signs which I have worked among them?
VERSE 12. I will strike them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”
VERSE 13. Moses said to the LORD, “Then the Egyptians will hear it; for you brought up this people in your might from among them.
VERSE 14. They will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you LORD are among this people; for you LORD are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them, and you go before them, in a pillar of cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night.
When the LORD God liberated his people from Egypt, he led them with the spectacular Pillar of Cloud and Pillar of Fire. Read more »
VERSE 15. Now if you killed this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of you will speak, saying,
VERSE 16. ‘Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he swore to them, therefore he has slain them in the wilderness.’
the Lord. The Hebrew word is “Adonai.”
VERSE 18. ‘The LORD is slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, forgiving iniquity and disobedience; and he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation.’
VERSE 19. Please pardon the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your loving kindness, and just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.”
VERSE 20. The LORD said, “I have pardoned according to your word;
VERSE 21. but in very deed—as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the LORD’s glory—
VERSE 22. because all those men who have seen my glory and my signs, which I worked in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have tempted me these ten times, and have not listened to my voice;
VERSE 23. surely they shall not see the land which I swore to their fathers, neither shall any of those who despised me see it.
VERSE 24. But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and has followed me fully, him I will bring into the land into which he went. His offspring shall possess it.
has followed me fully. After they reconnoitered the land, ten of the twelve spies gave a devastating report. It was laced with negativity and withered the faith of the community.
However, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, gave a very different report. It was full of faith, and full of possibility. They said that they could indeed take the land.
VERSE 25. Since the Amalekite and the Canaanite dwell in the valley, tomorrow turn and go into the wilderness by the way to the Sea of Suf.”
The sins of the fathers caused 40 years of suffering for their innocent children.
VERSE 26. The LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,
VERSE 27. “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation that complain against me? I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel, which they complain against me.
this evil congregation that complain against me. When parents do terrible things to their children, do they get in trouble for it? Rarely.
Or so it seems. However, there will almost certainly be consequences. Unforseen consequences. Consequences that the parent might not even be aware of:
- Growth in blessings may be cut off
- A loss of a sense of meaning or purpose
- The loss of a living connection to God
- A pervading sense of guilt
- Rage that burns within
Sadly, the wickedness of the parent not only drags themselves down. It also drags down their innocent children. The innocent child might suffer from consequences of the wickedness done to them:
- Physical trauma
- Emotional trauma and scars
- A pervasive feeling of being lost
Wicked parents see themselves as able to do anything they want to their children. It is as if their children are prey. They do wicked deeds to their innocent children.
It might be years or decades until the children can finally find their way to freedom. Then they can finally enter their own Promised Land.
In the meantime, the innocent children might be incapable of receiving God’s richest blessings. The sins of their parents cause them to wander aimlessly, seeking but not finding, suffering in a desert not of their own making, held back by actions they weren’t even aware of.
The delivery of God’s promise is on the way, but it is delayed. And it wasn’t even their fault.
Time spent shepherding the lost, during the long years in the desert, is never in vain. But when the desert finally comes to a close, the innocent children can finally enter the Promised Land.
VERSE 28. Tell them, ‘As I live, says the LORD, surely as you have spoken in my ears, so I will do to you.
as you have spoken in my ears, so will I do to you. Upon hearing the bad report from ten of the twelve spies, the people grumbled. They lost faith and complained.
To the LORD God, what they did was a great sin. They had sown a very bad thing, and now they would reap their due.
There is a law of “sowing and reaping” throughout the Bible. We don’t know how to fully reconcile it with grace and mercy. Here are the verses we’ve found »
VERSE 29. Your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness; and all who were counted of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, who have complained against me,
VERSE 30. surely you shall not come into the land concerning which I swore that I would make you dwell therein, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.
you shall not come into the land. The sentence for their sin is severe. They will wander in the desert for 40 years.
Almost the entire generation, almost everyone age 20 and older, will die in the desert instead of entering the Promised Land.
They will never see the land flowing with Milk and Honey.
VERSE 31. But I will bring in your little ones that you said should be captured or killed, and they shall know the land which you have rejected.
your little ones. They had seen their children as prey.
Now, the LORD God has turned things around. The adults will never enter the Promised Land. But in the fullness of time, their innocent children will.
VERSE 32. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness.
VERSE 33. Your children shall be wanderers in the wilderness forty years, and shall bear your prostitution, until your dead bodies are consumed in the wilderness.
Your children shall be wanderers. Some translations use the word “shepherd.” The innocent children had to wander about in the desert like shepherds.
Or maybe they had to act as shepherds, helping others make it through their awful sojourn in the desert for what now doubt seems far too long.
forty years. The innocent children would not enter into the Promised Land right away.
Even though they were innocent of wrongdoing, their own entering into the Land of Promise was delayed 40 long years.
For the sins of their ancestors, they had to wander aimlessly for 40 years in a howling desert.
The delivery of God’s promise was on the way, but it was delayed for 40 years. And it wasn’t even their fault.
VERSE 34. After the number of the days in which you spied out the land, even forty days, for every day a year, you will bear your iniquities, even forty years, and you will know my alienation.’
VERSE 35. I, the LORD, have spoken. I will surely do this to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.”
VERSE 36. The men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation to murmur against him by bringing up an evil report against the land,
VERSE 37. even those men who brought up an evil report of the land, died by the plague before the LORD.
VERSE 38. But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive of those men who went to spy out the land.
VERSE 39. Moses told these words to all the children of Israel, and the people mourned greatly.
VERSE 40. They rose up early in the morning and went up to the top of the mountain, saying, “Behold, we are here, and will go up to the place which the LORD has promised; for we have sinned.”
VERSE 41. Moses said, “Why now do you disobey the commandment of the LORD, since it shall not prosper?
VERSE 42. Don’t go up, for the LORD isn’t among you; that way you won’t be struck down before your enemies.
VERSE 43. For there the Amalekite and the Canaanite are before you, and you will fall by the sword because you turned back from following the LORD; therefore the LORD will not be with you.”
VERSE 44. But they presumed to go up to the top of the mountain. Nevertheless, the ark of the LORD’s covenant and Moses didn’t depart out of the camp.
VERSE 45. Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites who lived in that mountain, and struck them and beat them down even to Hormah.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.