Day 22  Numbers 14:1-44 ... Mutiny

Most ancient histories record the heroic exploits of might warriors and unblemished leaders.  The Bible, however, gives a strikingly different picture, as seen in the brutal realism of a book like Numbers.  On a dozen different occasions the Israelites lashed out in despair or rose up in rebellion, plotting against their leaders and denouncing God.  The spirit of revolt spread to the priests, to the military, to Moses’ family, and ultimately to Moses himself.

This chapter recounts the pivotal event of Numbers, the most decisive event since the Exodus from Egypt.  The Israelites were poised on the very border of the Promised Land.  If they simply trusted God, they could leave the torturous desert and walk into a land abundant with food and water.  Military scouts were delivering their final report on what they had seen.

But despite the miracles God had already performed on their behalf, the Israelites chose to distrust him once again.  Cowed by the scouting report of potential opposition, they loudly bemoaned the original decision to leave Egypt.  In open mutiny, they even conspired to stone Moses and his brother Aaron.

The real object of revolt, the Israelites’ God, felt spurned like a cast-off lover.  Convinced at last that this band of renegades was unprepared for conquest of the Promised Land, he postponed all plans.  The covenant promised of a new nation in a new land would have to wait, at least until all adults of the grumbling generation had died off.  And that’s why, out of the many thousands who had left Egypt, only two adults, Joshua and Caleb, survived to enter the Promised Land.

The Israelites had lost faith not only in themselves, but in their God.  The apostle Paul points out that these failures “happened to them as examples and were written down as warning for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).

Point to Ponder: What "giants" cause you fear?  How do you respond?