Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Numbers - "Desert Grumblings"|
Chs. 13 & 14
Chapter: Numbers 13
Passage: Numbers 13:1-25
A. Find Out:
1. What did the Lord tell Moses to do? v.1,2
2. Who were the men? v.2,3
3. What things did Moses tell them to find out? v.18-20
4. What did they bring back? v.23
5. How long did they take exploring the land? v.25
1. How does the Lord describe the land?
2. Why, therefore, did He want them to do this?
3. Was anyone harmed on this expedition?
We now come to a rather intriguing episode in Israel 's life with God, for it is the Lord who tells Moses to send men to check out the land He is giving them. Now that is a crucial point: it is the land He IS giving them. It is God's decreed will that they have this land. By now they should have realised that God is all-powerful so if He says the Land will be theirs, it will be theirs! Yet, as we'll see shortly, they failed to enter the land. Surely the Lord must have known that would happen? So why get them to go and look at the land? Surely it must be for them to see how good the land is; that is the point of bringing back some of the fruit. The purpose of looking at the land before entering it, must surely be to confront the difficulties of it and take them to the Lord for His help.
If a situation confronting us looks difficult, we're allowed to see its difficulties and not to run away, but the take them to the Lord and ask for His wisdom, grace and strength to deal with them. This, therefore, was to be an exercise that resulted in Israel marvelling at the wonder of God's provision for them, and then in bringing the potential difficulties to the Lord for Him to encourage them and tell them how to overcome. That is what should happen – after all the men who are going into the land are all leaders. These should be men of courage, vision and hope. When they come back, if they are to live up to their role, they should come back full of faith at God's love for them. Should!
1. God shows up the potential blessings to raise our faith level.
2. God shows us the difficulties that we may seek His grace for them.
Chapter: Numbers 13
Passage: Numbers 13:26-33
A. Find Out:
1. What did they report about the Land? v.27
2. What did they say about the people of the Land? v.28,29
3. What was Caleb's assessment of the situation? v.30
4. But what did the others say? v.31
5. Why did they think that? v.32,33
1. What was the problem in the minds of the leaders?
2. What were they forgetting?
3. So how did they come to a wrong conclusion?
There are times in life when we face difficulties and, as Christians, we have two choices: either to focus on the problem or on the Lord! The situation here was that the Lord had said He was giving this land to His people. That really should be enough. The leaders however, have allowed the vision of the people of the land to fill their minds and make them forget their experience with the Lord. If the Lord can deliver them from Pharaoh, then He can certainly give them this land!
Scripture gives us various similar illustrations. David was confronted with Goliath, a giant many times bigger than him, but he simply remembered what the Lord had already done for him, and so transferred that past experience into the present, and defeated Goliath! Jesus' disciples were led into a similar situation by Jesus when he suggested they feed the four thousand. They forgot the previous experience of feeding the five thousand and focused on the size of the problem (see Mt 15:33 ) and concluded they couldn't handle it.
Thus it is now with these leaders who have returned. Apart from Caleb& Joshua, they each agree that this is a situation beyond them. Well that much is true – but they have the Lord with them and it's not too much for Him! It's to the Lord that they should have turned but they hadn't learned that lesson yet and so conclude they can't enter. Actually that is rejecting God, because He has said they will. Bad news!
1. Situations may be beyond us – but they're not beyond God.
2. Focus on the Lord, not on the size of the problem.
Chapter: Numbers 14
Passage: Numbers 14:1-10
A. Find Out:
1. What was the people's response to the report of the leaders? v.1
2. What was their fear? v.2,3
3. What did they think about doing? v.4
4. What was Moses' & Aaron's response to all this? v.5
5. What did Joshua & Caleb affirm? v.6-8
6. What did they plead with the people? v.9
1. What was the belief of the people?
2. What was the belief of Joshua & Caleb?
3. How does Moses appear to be responding to all this?
When we observe the response of the people to the report of most of the spies, we realise the responsibility of vision makers. The ‘vision' the leaders presented is a badly presented one. They focus on the difficulties and not the solution. As a result the people are in despair. As they see it they are doomed. There is no faith around at all. They take on board the negatives of the spies and assume the worst – we're going to be killed! Hullo? Just a minute, what about the Exodus? Why should God do that only to give you up to destruction now? They don't think like that though, they do what we so often do, just let their minds get filled with the worst case scenario with no room for faith.
The response of the ‘faith men' is interesting. Moses and Aaron simply fall on their faces in prayer. This is so terrible that only the Lord can help, so let's plead with Him. Joshua and Caleb who have seen the land plead with the people. All four ARE men of faith. Two speak out to God and two speak out the truth to the people. It's a good combination, but unfortunately the words to the people fall on deaf, unbelieving ears, ears that have committed themselves to believing the worst, and they will not be moved by the faith of Joshua and Caleb. They may be misguided and they may have let themselves be swayed by the bad report of the unbelieving spies, but they are still responsible. See next!
1. It's easy to be swayed by others' unbelief. Resist it!
2. It's easy to forget the Lord. Don't!
Chapter: Numbers 14
Passage: Numbers 14:10-25
A. Find Out:
1. What did the people talk of doing? v.10
2. So what did the Lord talk of doing? v.11,12
3. What argument did Moses use against that? v.13-16
4. What principle did he reiterate & what request did he make? v.18,19
5. How did the Lord respond to that? v.20-23
6. Who did He say would be an exception? v.24
7. What did he say now to do? v.25
1. Why do you think the Lord said what He did in v.11,12?
2. What argument did Moses present?
3. What was the outcome?
This is a crucial point in Israel 's desert history. They have allowed their spirits to flag and have fallen into a place of rebellion where they are essentially rejecting the Lord and rejecting Moses and Aaron. The Lord speaks to Moses at the Tent and declares His intention to wipe them all out by a plague and start again with Moses. What a temptation for Moses – what a test! Moses passes the test, for he is more concerned for the name of the Lord than with his own future glory!
Moses ‘argues' with the Lord that the Egyptians from whom they escaped will deride the name of the Lord if His purposes for Israel are not fulfilled. The argument, “What will people think?” is a good one to use because the Lord IS concerned to maintain His good name so that people will come to Him. That is His desire. He doesn't need persuading and so He agrees that He will not destroy them outright, but what He will do, for they must learn this, is stop all those of accountable age (we'll see that tomorrow) who came out of Egypt from entering the Promised Land. Key features of this covenant-people are to be faith and obedience (Ex 19:5) and if they don't have those they forfeit the covenant and forfeit the blessings that God has for them. Very well, says the Lord, turn around, the enemy before you is too much for you!
1. A child of God is called to obedience to receive their blessing.
2. Faith is a prerequisite to receive the blessing of God.
Chapter: Numbers 14
Passage: Numbers 14:26-35
A. Find Out:
1. What was the Lord holding against Israel ? v.27,35b
2. So what would happen to them? v.28,29a,30a,32,35c
3. Who would not die there? v.29b,30b,31
4. How long would this go on for? v.33,34
1. What would happen to the older generation of Israel ?
2. Who would not die there?
3. And what was the cause of all this?
These verses are God's indictment of Israel and as such they lay down what would happen to them for the next thirty eight years. It is quite a remarkable thing that is going to happen here. Later on Moses would be able to testify to the remaining younger generation that their clothes or shoes had not worn out throughout their desert wandering (Deut 8:4 & 29:5) so for the younger generation there would be an amazing provision. However, for the older generation, all those over twenty years old at this time, they would be consigned to a life of wandering in that area until every last one of them (except Joshua and Caleb) had died. This must have been a terrible experience for young and old alike.
For the old it was the knowledge that their lives now had no purpose or meaning except to die sometime in the next thirty eight years, and until they did, life was just one long drag in the wilderness looking after their families and their flocks. For the younger generation there must have been the frustration of their lives being on standby until that period had passed and their parents had died. While there parents were still there, they could not enter into their inheritance. They might have been forgiven if they rejoiced over every death, thinking, “One more death nearer my inheritance!” A truly terrible judgement! Perhaps we take for granted this period in Israel 's history but it must have been like being stuck in a time warp (to use modern sci-fi language) where nothing can change, and all this because they rejected God.
1. Sin does have consequences. We accept sin at our peril.
2. God is patient; He can wait for a faithful generation.
Chapter: Numbers 14
Passage: Numbers 14:36-45
A. Find Out:
1. What happened to who and who survived? v.36-38
2. What was Israel 's response to this? v.39,40
3. What did Moses warn? v.41-43
4. Yet what did Israel do? v.44
5. With what result? v.45
1. What was the sign of the Lord's displeasure at what happened?
2. How did Israel try to make amends?
3. How was that wrong?
The first thing to note here is the Lord's judgement on the ten men who had led Israel astray, who had come back and, despite the Lord having declared His will, basically said, it's not possible! They die. It's as simple as that. There is a level of accountability with the Lord that is sometimes downright frightening. Their deaths shake Israel who now decide that they must enter the land. If you didn't think about this, that might appear a good thing, but the truth is that the Lord has declared His will and they, yet again, fly right in the face of that and decide they will go in. It's now too late.
At this point we might speculate: what might have happened if Israel has repented and sought the Lord? Might the Lord have relented if he saw whole-hearted repentance? But He didn't; they are still determined to do their own thing and leave the Lord out of it. The chilling words are found in v.44, “Nevertheless in their presumption…” They presumed they could do it without the Lord. How stupid! They have yet to learn. It continues, “they went up.... though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord's covenant moved from the camp.” Moses stayed still and the Lord stayed still, and the people moved which meant they were now on their own without leadership and without the Lord, and the result is that they are soundly beaten by the enemy. There is no way they are going to enter the Land like this. God has declared His will and it WILL be fulfilled!
1. Wholehearted repentance is the only thing to change God's mind.
2. Never try to go against God's declared will. It invites disaster.
RECAP - "Failure to Enter the Land" - Numbers 13 & 14
In this second group of 6 studies we have seen :
- 12 spies sent into the Land (13:1-25)
- Their negative report about the Land (13:26-33)
- The people rebelling against Moses & Aaron (14:1-4)
- Moses reassuring them (14:5-9)
- The people reject them & God threatens death (14:10-12)
- Moses intercedes for Israel (14:13-19)
- The people condemned to desert wanderings (14:20-35)
- The 10 unbelieving spies die (14:36-38)
- The people try to enter & are repulsed (14:39-45)
These are two chapters of shame. The Lord has led the people out of Egypt , through the wilderness to the border of the Promised Land, and has said He will give the land to the people. Now comes what can only be regarded as a test – a test which Israel badly failed. Spies were sent in to view the land and 10 of the 12 come back declaring that they will not be able to take the land. Now that was in direct contravention of what the Lord had said. What makes it worse was that the people believed the 10 and also rejected God's word to them. This is a time of major unbelief and a time that will have long-term repercussions. Most of those over the age of 20 now will die in the wilderness and never enter the land. How tragic.
1. God encourages us to fulfil His will for us and gives grace.
2. Situations may be beyond us but not beyond God.
3. The Lord looks for faith in us to face difficult circumstances.
4. Sin always has negative consequences.
5. Repentance is essential to deal with sin.
Ask the Lord to build faith in you to be His child, living for His glory today.
PART 3 : "Challenging the Leadership"
In this next Part there are severe lessons to be learnt about rebellion and accepting authority.