Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Numbers 14

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-45

Chapter 14

In chapter fourteen,

All of the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said, Would to God we had died in the land of Egypt! or would to God we had died in the wilderness! Why has the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return to Egypt? They said, Let's get a captain, who will lead us back to Egypt... And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb, they tore their clothes: they spake to the company of the children of Israel, and said, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delights in us, then he will bring us into the land, and give it to us; a land which flows with milk and honey. Only rebel not against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not. But all the congregation of Israel grabbed stones ( Numbers 14:1-4 , Numbers 14:6-10 ).

And they were gonna stone Joshua and Caleb.

Here is the tragic failure of the people. God had brought them right to the borders of entering in to the full blessing, the abundant rich life. It was there, all they had to do was go in and possess it. God had already promised, "I will drive out the inhabitants from before you. I'll send hornets and all before you and drive out the inhabitants, you just go in and take the land." And God brought them right to the border, right to the entering in of this land of blessing and promise and fullness. And the people, at this point, failed to enter in because they allowed fear to dominate their hearts instead of faith. And whenever you allow fear to dominate your life instead of faith, the fear brings unbelief and that unbelief will rob you and keep you from that which God has already made available for you and is just laying, waiting for you to pick it up.

There are so many Christians today who have failed to enter into the full, rich life that God has for them. They are living sort of a yo-yo Christian experience. They're high one day and down the next and you never know what kind of a mood, spiritual mood they're gonna be in. Sometimes, awe, they're just really floating and other times they're just dragging the bottle. And their whole Christian experience is one of such great vacillation. They have never entered into the full abundant life of the spirit that God wants for his children. They live their whole Christian experience in Roman's chapter seven and they never enter into chapter eight. Their life is one continued battle with the flesh. A constant roaming and wandering in the wilderness and never entering in to possess that full, rich land that God has promised for them.

Even as Egypt represents the old life of bondage in sin, and passing through the Red Sea represents the baptism and coming into Christ and into a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and the wilderness represents the normal growth of the believer; so the Promised Land represents the full, rich life that you can have in Christ now. Unfortunately, our hymns have made the Promised Land a heavenly thing and they've made Jordan death.

And so in our songs, "Swing Lo, sweet chariot coming forth to carry me home. I looked over Jordan, what did I see? A band of angels coming after me coming forth to carry me home". And Jordan represents, you know, I won't have to cross Jordan alone and the chilly waters of Jordan, and all, represent death, you know. And then I enter into heaven, the glorious promises of God. No, not so, because once they had crossed over Jordan and come into the land, they were still battling. You're not going to have any battles in heaven.

Once they cross over Jordan and come into the land they were even defeated a time or two at Ai. They were defeated by the Gibeonites. You're not going to be defeated in heaven or deceived. Jordan represents the death of the old man, the old nature, my reckoning of myself to be dead with Christ. And the land of promise is that life that I can now enjoy in the spirit, walking in the spirit and walking in the spirit and knowing now the victories in Jesus Christ. In the wilderness, though they had battles, they never gained anything of permanent value. It was not until they began to enter in and possess the land that there was the gaining of things with-they actually now possessing their possessions.

It is tragic that so many Christians spend their entire Christian experience in the wilderness roaming, wandering in the wilderness. And thus, their Christian walk is sort of just a continual endurance rather than an enjoyment. God wants you to experience now the richness and the fullness of his blessing and his love and it's there. God has provided for you in Christ Jesus and through the Holy Spirit, a life of victory, a life of blessings, a life of full and it is unbelief that keeps so many people from entering in.

The ten spies inspired fear and the people were dominated by fear so that when Joshua and Caleb began and sought to encourage the people with words of faith, the ten spies said, "Hey, there are giants. We are like grasshoppers in their eyes". Joshua and Caleb said, "Hey, they are like bread for us". The ten spies said, "Hey, we can't do it" Joshua and Caleb said, "Let's do it now. We are well able to do it". But the people, dominated by fear, failed to enter in. Even ready to destroy the two prophets of God, Joshua and Caleb, who were encouraging them.

And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? How long will it be before they believe me ( Numbers 14:11 ),

There is the key; it was a lack of faith that kept them from what God had for them. And it's a lack of faith that keeps you from receiving, entering in by faith. You see, our problem is that we think that we've gotta enter in by works. "Oh, if I could just be good enough so God could bless me. If I could just be sweet enough and kind enough so that I could be worthy, the blessing of God upon my life." And it was the lack of believing and trusting God that kept them out. It wasn't a thing of worthiness at all. It was just the lack of faith and that's what keeps you, the lack of faith, nothing more.

And so God said to Moses, "Stand back. I'm gonna wipe them out." And Moses interceded for the people. And in verse seven-eighteen he said,

I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children of the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now ( Numbers 14:17-19 ).

Lord, you've gone this far with them, let's go all the way, all of the way from Egypt you've forgiven them and talking of the longsuffering and the great mercy and the forgiveness of God.

And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word ( Numbers 14:20 ):

God wanted to pardon them. And he answered the prayer of Moses and then, I love this verse,

But as surely as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD ( Numbers 14:21 ).

Hey that, that God is declaring just as sure as he lives, that's gonna happen. "As surely as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord". I can hardly wait. What a glorious day this is going to be and God has declared it with an oath. "As surely as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord." I wanna be here when that happens. I expect to be here when that happens. I'm going to be here when that happens. I have God's promise. Oh, how glorious is that anticipation of the whole world being filled with the glory of the Lord. All right, let's go for it, God.

Because all of these men, those men, which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which did in Egypt and in the wilderness, they have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware to their fathers, neither them that provoke me shall see it: But only Caleb, because another spirit was in him, and has followed me fully, I'll bring him into the land wherein he went; and his seed shall possess it. Now turn, get away back into the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And God said, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I've heard their murmuring of the children of Israel, they murmur against me. As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you ( Numbers 14:22-28 ):

Now they said, "Hey it was God that brought us here, you know, to kill our little ones and all and our carcasses lie in the wilderness". God said, "All right you said it". Your carcasses will lie in the wilderness but your children that you said, "Oh God brought them here to be a prey and all", they will be the ones that will go in and possess the land. And only Joshua and Caleb of the people will be able to go in because they brought back an encouraging report.

So, the people repented and they said, "Oh, we're sorry we've sinned. Let's go up and take the land." Moses said, "Don't do it. In that hill there are some of the Canaanites and the Amalekites and the Spirit of the Lord isn't with you, don't try it." But these people are just headstrong and they went up anyhow and the Canaanites and the Amalekites came out and began to wipe them out. Tragic.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Numbers 14". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/numbers-14.html. 2014.
Ads FreeProfile