In Numbers chapter 13 when the Jewish people left the wilderness of Sinai and came to the borders of the Promised Land, they should have entered the land at this point. But they did not.

According to what the Lord said, Moses sent out spies, they are actually named in the Bible. Num13: 4-15. They were twelve of them, each representing his own tribe, and the twelve together representing Israel.

These 12 spies spent 40 days spying out the land and they even came back with a huge cluster of grapes saying, that the land was really productive and fruitful, and that this was truly what God had said. BUT, there were giants in the land! Israel could not enter! The giants were too strong, too big and too numerous.

We see from the Bible that only two spies had a different report. They were Joshua and Caleb. They both said that with God on their side they could take the land, defeat the giants…and posses the promises of God. Num 13:30.

But the Jewish people accepted the majority report of the spies. The people broke down in tears at the news and refused to budge from their place.

Our faithless actions and reports can have huge consequences which can reverberate throughout our personal history, change our state of living, spoil our position in God and bring innumerable troubles upon us and the generation to follow. What a terrible mistake!

Moses was absolutely horrified and God was very angry, at this faithless, covenant breaking, dissatisfied lot. So then the Lord issued two decrees of punishment almost immediately:

  1. Because they displayed this lack of faith after He had brought them so far, they are doomed to wander in the desert for 40 years (One year for every day they spied out the land) until the entire adult male population (except for the Levites who did not listen to the spies) had died off.
  2. God talked to Moses and Aaron together and told them, “Tell the people what I said. Everyone over twenty who spoke against me is going to die in the wilderness. Only Caleb and Joshua will get to the land where there are rivers of milk and honey. But for everyone else: their dead bodies will lie in the wilderness and everyone will have to walk around for forty years…” (Free translation mine)

So what does this tragedy teach us?

We may be people of great strength, great ideas, great abilities and great words! But when we display faithless lives and empty words, these will send us into a generation of bondage.

Let me share with you two major issues that come into my heart right now…which we need to be careful of as a church.

Firstly, these Israelites were people who had seen miracles, of the kind and nature we have never seen. They saw their release from Egypt; they saw God’s hand destroy the enemy that had then in for 400 years! They also saw the Red see part and save them. They saw the miraculous at Mount Sinai, and in spite of their disobedience and fall to idolatry they saw God forgive and now bring them to a doorway where they were just about to enter all of God Promises. BUT they could not believe that God would deliver them from the giants in the land. Joshua and Caleb were the only ones who believed, but yet the majority did not.

So what am I saying? Be careful when you speak faithless statements that are opposite to God’s Word and His precious promises. When you are about to enter a new dimension, there is always a challenge of faith. What can you see? Impossibilities or possibilities? This actually will determine where you spend the rest of your life!

Secondly, they followed what the majority said. Very democratic, but in serious error to the Word of God. How often we like to go with the flow. We do not want to stir the nest. We are with the ‘in’ crowd. Let me say something serious. God looked at this and saw rebellion! And rebellion has its consequences…! Listen, Moses has had the hardest job on the planet earth—leading an unruly group of people God himself described as “stiff-necked.”

If you have your own stubborn dedication to an idea that makes you think you are right and what you think is going to change things…! Then it is very difficult for you to come into unity with others in the church!…not only that, it becomes impossible for any leader to lead you!

So after 40 years of trying to lead this stubborn nation, even Moses loses his temper for one moment. And shouts…“You rebels!” difficult isn’t it?

We must learn lessons, serious lessons, from others who have gone before us. If we do not, then we will fall into some serious mistakes and our life here on earth will not have the ‘fullness’ God really desires for us to have.

Think about it!