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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Numbers

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PART 3: To Refusal & Judgment

The third part finds Israel at the border of the Promised Land, sending in spies, and then refusing to go in. Chapter 15 reiterates rules and looks to the future when they do go in.

Ch.13: [Action] Exploring the Land & Report of the Spies

- sending spies in to assess the land

Ch.14: [Action] Refusing Entry & Judgment

- a negative report and a rebellious people

Ch.15: [Law] Offerings in the Land & [Action] a Disobedience

- nevertheless hope for the future


FRAMEWORKS: Numbers 14 : Refusing Entry & Judgment


v.1-4 The People Rebel against Moses & Aaron

v.6-9 Moses, Aaron, Joshua & Caleb plead with the people

v.10-12 When the people threaten to stone them, the Lord intervenes

v.13-19 Moses Intercedes with the Lord

v.20-25 The Lord Pronounces His Sentence – no Entry

v.26-35 The Lord Pronounces His Sentence – death in the wilderness

v.36-39 Ten of the Explorers die

v.40-45 The People try to Enter the Land & are repulsed



v.1-4 The People Rebel against Moses & Aaron


v.1 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.

v.2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness!

v.3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

v.4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”


[Notes: The people as a whole allow themselves to be fearful and grumble yet again against Moses and Aaron. In their foolishness they wish they had died in the wilderness rather than have to fight against the odds they see in the land.]



v.6-9 Moses, Aaron, Joshua & Caleb plead with the people


v.5 Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there.

v.6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes

v.7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.

v.8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.

v.9 Only do not rebel against the Lord . And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”


[Notes: Moses & Aaron pray, Joshua and Caleb speak out and a) state how good the land is, b) affirm that the Lord will give it to them, c) plead with the people not to rebel against God, and d) affirm their belief that they will be able to take the land.]



v.10-12 When the people threaten to stone them, the Lord intervenes


v.10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites.

v.11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?

v.12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”


[Notes: The people are set in their way and talk of stoning them at which point the glory of the Lord appears as the tent entrance and God declares to Moses that He will destroy this people.]



v.13-19 Moses Intercedes with the Lord


v.13 Moses said to the Lord , “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them.

v.14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

v.15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say,

v.16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.'

v.17“Now may the Lord's strength be displayed, just as you have declared:

v.18 The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.'

v.19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”


[Notes: Moses plead with the Lord not to, on the basis that:

•  the Egyptians will hear of it [v.13]

•  the people of the Land will hear of it [v.14]

•  the onlooking world will hear of it and God's name be diminished [v.15,16]

•  how much better if God's power is seen [v.17] revealing what He had said to Moses about Himself [v.18]

•  how much better if He forgave these people as He had done a number of times already since they left Egypt [v.19]]



v.20-25 The Lord Pronounces His Sentence – no Entry


v.20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.

v.21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth,

v.22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times

v.23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.

v.24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.

v.25 Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.”


[Notes: So, OK He forgives them and will not destroy them outright (implied). However they have grumbled or rebelled some ten time [v.22] since leaving Egypt and some commentators have suggested that the following constitute those ten rebellions:

1. Exo 14:10-12: At the Red Sea where it seemed Pharaoh's army would destroy them

2. Exo 15:22-24: At Marah where they found bitter water.

3. Exo 16:1-3: In the Desert of Sin as they hungered.

4. Exo 16:19-20 In the Desert of Sin as they paid no attention to Moses concerning the storing of the manna until the morning.

5. Exo 16:27-30 In the Desert of Sin as they disregarded Moses concerning the gathering of the manna on the seventh day.

6. Exo 17:1-4 At Rephidim as they complained for water

7. Exo 32:1-35 At Mount Sinai as Aaron led the people in making the golden calf

8. Num 11:1-3 At Taberah where the people raged against the Lord

9. Num 11:4-34 At Kibroth Hattaavah in the grumbling provoked by the rabble for quail

10. Num 14:1-3 At Kadesh in the Desert of Paran when the people refused to receive the good report of Joshua and Caleb but rather wished themselves dead.

The Lord's conclusion is that He will not let this people enter the Land.]



v.26-35 The Lord Pronounces His Sentence – death in the wilderness


v.26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron:

v.27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites.

v.28 So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say:

v.29 In this wilderness your bodies will fall —every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me.

v.30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.

v.31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected.

v.32 But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness.

v.33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness.

v.34 For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.'

v.35 I, the Lord , have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this wilderness; here they will die.”


[Notes: But more than forbidding their entry to the Land, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, everyone over the age of twenty will gradually die off in the wilderness over the next forty years. They wanted to die in the wilderness, so be it!]



v.36-39 Ten of the Explorers die


v.36 So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it—

v.37 these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord.

v.38 Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.

v.39 When Moses reported this to all the Israelites, they mourned bitterly.


[Notes: The ten ‘bad spies', all die from plague. Joshua and Caleb survive.]



v.40-45 The People try to Enter the Land & are repulsed


v.40 Early the next morning they set out for the highest point in the hill country, saying, “Now we are ready to go up to the land the Lord promised. Surely we have sinned!”

v.41 But Moses said, “Why are you disobeying the Lord's command? This will not succeed!

v.42 Do not go up, because the Lord is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies,

v.43 for the Amalekites and the Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the Lord , he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.”

v.44 Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the highest point in the hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord 's covenant moved from the camp.

v.45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.


[Notes: After all this occurs the people acknowledge they have sinned and decide to enter the Land. Moses warns them against this and when they ignore him and try, they are repulsed by the inhabitants.]