“Then the whole community broke into loud cries, and the people wept that night. All the Israelites complained about Moses and Aaron, and the whole community told them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to die by the sword? Our wives and children will become plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.” Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole assembly of the Israelite community. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who scouted out the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite community, “The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us. Only don’t rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us. Don’t be afraid of them!” While the whole community threatened to stone them, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the tent of meeting. The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people despise Me? How long will they not trust in Me despite all the signs I have performed among them? I will strike them with a plague and destroy them. Then I will make you into a greater and mightier nation than they are.” But Moses replied to the Lord, “The Egyptians will hear about it, for by Your strength You brought up this people from them. They will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, Lord, are among these people, how You, Lord, are seen face to face, how Your cloud stands over them, and how You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. If You kill this people with a single blow, the nations that have heard of Your fame will declare, ‘Since the Lord wasn’t able to bring this people into the land He swore to give them, He has slaughtered them in the wilderness.’ “So now, may my Lord’s power be magnified just as You have spoken: The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in faithful love, forgiving iniquity and rebellion. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children to the third and fourth generation. Please pardon the iniquity of this people, in keeping with the greatness of Your faithful love, just as you have forgiven them from Egypt until now.” The Lord responded, “I have pardoned them as you requested. Yet as I live and as the whole earth is filled with the Lord’s glory, none of the men who have seen my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tested me these ten times and did not obey me, will ever see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have despised me will see it. But since My servant Caleb has a different spirit and has remained loyal to Me, I will bring him into the land where he has gone, and his descendants will inherit it. Since the Amalekites and Canaanites are living in the lowlands, turn back tomorrow and head for the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea.” Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: “How long must I endure this evil community that keeps complaining about Me? I have heard the Israelites’ complaints that they make against Me. Tell them: As I live — this is the Lord’s declaration — I will do to you exactly as I heard you say. Your corpses will fall in this wilderness — all of you who were registered in the census, the entire number of you twenty years old or more — because you have complained about Me. I swear that none of you will enter the land I promised to settle you in, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. I will bring your children whom you said would become plunder into the land you rejected, and they will enjoy it. But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. Your children will be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years and bear the penalty for your acts of unfaithfulness until all your corpses lie scattered in the wilderness. You will bear the consequences of your iniquities forty years based on the number of the forty days that you scouted the land, a year for each day. You will know My displeasure. I, the Lord, have spoken. I swear that I will do this to the entire evil community that has conspired against Me. They will come to an end in the wilderness, and there they will die.”
Numbers 14:1-35 CSB
So we think when we’re complaining about God’s leadership we’re justified? Think again. The people were complaining about Moses and Aaron, but Yahweh took it personally and said since He was the One who gave Moses the instructions, the complaining was against Him. Oh boy! I’m reminded about what happened when I complained about things my pastor was doing that I didn’t like. The Lord rebuked me both privately and publicly. He basically told me that even though I was correct in my assessment I didn’t have the right to do what I did. I repented to Him and my pastors quickly. I didn’t want the wandering in the wilderness or the purging.
When David was being hunted by Saul, who would’ve murdered him, had he found him first, he cut off a piece of Saul’s robe to prove that Saul had nothing to worry about from him. But the scripture says,” David’s heart ( or conscience) smote him.” Why? That’s not how God wanted Saul dealt with. As with my situation, God wanted to handle situations with His disobedient servants, His way. We’re not in charge of who He’s put in charge. See 1 Samuel 24:5-12
When Israel listened to fear instead of trusting God and even considered going back to Egypt, God had had enough. Moreover, how were they planning on crossing the Red Sea? Do you see how fear can make us say and do stupid things? I’ve watched as Covid turned neighbors into enemies, how it separated families, exasperated marriage problems, and increased abuses in every form. Fear of a disease turned us against each other. But no one was complaining against the government, people dutifully did everything the so called experts were telling them to do, for months. Even if it made no earthly sense at times. But if God had sent a prophet to warn us, we’d probably label him/her a heretic. Why? Government is wiser than God.
Be careful that you don’t give to man what belongs to God. The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10. God is long suffering, but He’s not without feeling. His heart breaks every time we refuse to trust Him. The Israelites didn’t get to choose the consequences for their murmurings. For the forty days that the spies spent in Canaan, He added a year for each day. He used the forty years to purge the assembly of all the complainers. After they had all died, then the Lord followed through on His promise to bring the next generation into the promised Land.
I know we’re in the age of grace. But the Bible says this in 1 Peter 4:17 “For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?”
We may not be wandering around in a wilderness for forty years, but I do believe that God is in the process of cleaning up His Church. Jesus used a braided whip to drive out those who were using His house incorrectly. Do we think for one moment that we are exempt from His judgment? Many have been exposed, some have even died horribly. Pleading for healing like Hezekiah, but never receiving a response. Some have had their sin exposed after their deaths. Is this the Church that Jesus suffered and died for? The purging has begun. There’s no hiding place for sin. Pastors who live double lives are being exposed.
The ten spies who created confusion and fear were destroyed by God’s purging fire. And the people who adhered to the evil report all died in the wilderness. Everything they said God had brought them out of Egypt to do to them, they suffered. Forty years of purging God’s assembly of murmurers and complainers, left a wilderness full of corpses. But it also produced a generation that learned a valuable lesson: God takes no pleasure in ingratitude.
“So the men Moses sent to scout out the land, and who returned and incited the entire community to complain about Him by spreading a negative report about the land — those men who spread the negative report about the land were struck down by the Lord.”
Numbers 14:36-37 CSB
We can escape the purging of the Lord and shorten our sojourning, by adhering to His Word, having grateful hearts, don’t complain about His leaders because He sees it as complaining against Him. Avoid evil communications, take God at His Word, reject fear, reverence Him and keep our lives free from sin. If you’re in the same situation you were in prior to getting saved, you may want to check what you’ve been saying out of your mouth. Our words have life altering consequences. Have you been murmuring against God? Every time we badmouth God with anyone or even privately, we are in rebellion against Him. He hears every word. Moses stood in defense of God’s Name and character. He didn’t want anyone, without knowing the facts, saying anything critical of Yahweh. We should have the same attitude.
If the Lord allows us to do what Israel did without consequences, then He’d be unjust. If the heaven’s have seemed like brass, or it feels like your prayers have hit a ceiling or If you’ve been feeling dry-It’s time for introspection. Have you been ignoring His warnings? You may not have forty years to get things right, you may not even have forty seconds. The people tried to make up for their rebellion, but it was too late. God had spoken and He wasn’t about to change His mind. Numbers 14:39-45. What’s your plan of action? Now is your moment. The warning is this:
“Working together with Him, we also appeal to you, “Don’t receive the grace of God in vain.” For He says: At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation!”
2 Corinthians 6:1-2
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked to anger with that generation and said, “They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known My ways.” So I swore in My anger, “They will not enter My rest.” Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.” Hebrews 3:7-13 CSB
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit