The people were swayed by the opinion of the majority. The call was distinctly heard and the desirability of obedience comprehended. But walled cities appeared impregnable and enemies as giants. The result was that they positively suggested a return to Egypt. The answer of God was the discipline of forty years. In communion with His servant Jehovah asked, "How long will this people despise Me? and how long will they not believe in Me?'' In those sentences the real interpretation of disobedience and unbelief lay revealed. In this same communion with Moses, Jehovah suggested that the people should be cast off and a new nation be created of His loyal servant.
This led to a revelation of Moses in his greatness. He besought God to vindicate His power by the exercise of His mercy. The answer was immediate. The people were pardoned but were to be excluded from the land.
The attitude of the people changed as there broke upon them the consciousness of the unutterable folly of their action. Here again, however, their failure was manifest in their decision to go up and possess the land from which God had just excluded them. The result was that they were utterly routed. Israel, guided by God, was an entirely different proposition from Israel attempting to realize the purposes of God without Him. The lessons are obvious and searching.
the Third Week after Epiphany