5 Apr. Numbers 14:1-38

5 Apr. The Israelites are condemned to 40 years in the desert

“That night all the people in the camp began crying loudly. All the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron, and all the people said to them, ‘We wish we had died in Egypt or in this desert. Why is the LORD bringing us to this land [Canaan] to be killed with swords? Our wives and children will be taken away. We would be better off going back to Egypt.’”

“They said to each other, ‘Let’s choose a leader and go back to Egypt.’ Then Moses and Aaron bowed face down in front of all the Israelites gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who had explored the land, tore their clothes. They said to all of the Israelites, ‘The land we explored is very good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land and give us that fertile land.’”

“’Don’t turn against the LORD. Don’t be afraid of the people in that land. We will chew them up. They have no protection, but the LORD is with us. So don’t be afraid of them.’”

“Then all the people talked about killing them with stones. But the glory of the LORD appeared at the Meeting Tent to all the Israelites. The LORD said to Moses, ‘How long will these people ignore me? How long will they not believe me in spite of the miracles I have done among them? I will give them a terrible sickness and get rid of them.’…”

“Then Moses said to the LORD, ‘The Egyptians will hear about it… If you put these people to death all at once, the nations who have heard about your power will say, “The LORD was not able to bring them into the land he promised them. So he killed them in the desert.”’”

“’So show your strength now, Lord… By your great love, forgive these people’s sin, just as you have forgiven them from the time they left Egypt until now.’”

“The LORD answered, ‘I have forgiven them as you asked. But as surely as I live and as surely as my glory fills the whole earth, I make this promise: all these men saw my glory and the miracles I did in Egypt and in the desert, but they disobeyed me and tested me ten times. So not one of them will see the land I promised to their ancestors.’”

“’No one who rejected me will see that land. But my servant Caleb thinks differently and follows me completely. So I will bring him into the land he has already seen, and his children will own that land. Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, leave [Kadesh] tomorrow and follow the desert road [back] towards the Red Sea.’”

“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘How long will these evil people complain about me?... So tell them, “This is what the LORD says… you will die in this desert. Every one of you who is 20 years old or older … - all of you who complained against me – will die. Not one of you will enter the land where I promised you would live; only Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun will go in.”’”

“’You said that your children would be taken away, but I will bring them into the land to enjoy what you refused. As for you, you will die in this desert. Your children will be shepherds here for 40 years. Because you were not loyal, they will suffer until you lie dead in the desert. For 40 years you will suffer for your sins – a year for each of the 40 days you explored the land.’...”

“The men Moses had sent to explore the land had returned and spread complaints among all the people… The men who gave a very bad report died; the LORD killed them with a terrible sickness. Only two of the men who explored the land did not die – Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh.”

          (Numbers 14:1-38)



After the men who had explored the ‘promised land’ of Canaan gave the Israelites a bad report about the land and its inhabitants, the people of Israel complained bitterly and wanted to choose another leader and return to Egypt. They were ready to stone Moses and Aaron to death, and moaned that they’d be killed by the inhabitants if they entered Canaan.

Joshua and Caleb, who had seen the ‘promised land’ for themselves, urged the people to attack the Canaanites without delay, and appealed to the Israelites to trust in God’s protection. But the people were ready to rebel, and ignored their pleading.

At that point, God appeared in his shining radiant glory in the Tent of Meeting. The LORD was angry with the Israelites and declared that they would all die in the desert: “not one of them will see the land I promised to their ancestors” – except Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:23).

Moses was instructed by God not to enter the ‘promised land’ at that time, but to “leave tomorrow and follow the desert road [back] towards the Red Sea” (Numbers 14:25).

So the Israelites were condemned by the LORD to forty years of living as nomadic shepherds in the desert – one year for each day that the spies explored the ‘promised land’.

As a punishment for their timidity and their hostility to God’s plans, all the spies who explored Canaan - except Caleb and Joshua - were struck down by a plague and died in the desert.

The photo (by Wilson) shows the Negev Desert of southern Israel near where the Israelites camped at Kadesh Barnea.

You can read more about the spies’ report @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/26-the-journey-continues-from-sinai-to-moab/moses-sends-spies-into-canaan/

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