Wandering through the Wilderness

Numbers 14:28–30 (ESV)
 "Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun."

This is an amazing section of Scripture that documents the results of a life lived in rebellion along with a refusal to accept God’s promise. Earlier, twelve spies were sent out to scout the land promised to them by God. After 40 days, they returned to the camp to give their report to Moses. Ten of the spies spoke of how unlikely it would be to prevail against their foes due to their fortifications and physical size. Only Caleb and Joshua expressed that they would be successful in battle, due to having faith in God’s promise to the nation. Unfortunately, the nation of Israel was swayed by the report of the ten.

Complaining once again to Moses and Aaron, the people expressed their dismay at the chances of ever seeing the Promised Land. In their distress, they wished that they would have died in Egypt or die now in the wilderness. As we read in Numbers 14:29, God granted their request.

All of those 20 or older (the age of those able to fight per the census) would die in the wilderness, except for Caleb and Joshua. How soon they had forgotten all of the miracles God performed in saving them time and again, and instead focused on their own human abilities to succeed.

Interestingly, we see earlier in Numbers 14:20, that the Lord forgave Israel’s apostasy; however, the punishment remained. Sin has consequences, especially to an unrepentant heart. He remained faithful, though, and kept His covenantal promise that Israel would be His chosen people and He would be their God.

So, how does this apply to our lives?

As Hebrews 9:27 indicates, death comes to us all, both Christian and non-Christian (unless the Lord returns in our lifetime). If we have lived a life in rebellion to God and His Word, we too will also face His wrath as did those who believed the report of the ten spies (note also that all ten of the spies died from the result of a plague).

While we might not experience the very miracles of God as the nation of Israel did, the very world around us confesses the majesty of our Lord (Psalm 19:1). We therefore have no excuse not to recognize His presence (Romans 1:20). To continue in rebellion is to deny His existence and His authority over you as your Creator.

So many are wandering through life much like the doomed Israelites. Without hope or faith in God, they are simply living an existence void of purpose or meaning. However, there is one difference: while the sentence of those in Israel was passed, the sentence on those currently living in rebellion has not yet been metered out. There is still time to repent. Let today be that day, as none of us are promised tomorrow.

If you are in rebellion, turn now to Christ and away from your empty ways. Seek Him in your heart and confess your sins. He has promised to be faithful to hear your cry (1 John 1:9).

There is no reason to wander in the wilderness another day.