In Numbers 14:1-4, we see that truly “misery loves company.”
– The People Rebel –
“Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”
(4) And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.””
Rather than encouraging one another and giving one another reminders of God’s faithfulness and their hope in Him to guide their future, the Israelites griped together.
Complaining often leads to disobedience and entertaining prideful thoughts that man’s wisdom is better than God’s. – In verse 4, the people came up with what they thought was a superior Plan 2.0, instead of showing trust and obedience to God’s original Plan 1.0 that He had given them through Moses.
As we move into Numbers 14:13-19, Moses is speaking to the Lord on behalf of the people of Israel, after Joshua and Caleb had returned from the Promised Land spy mission and told the people to trust in God’s promise that they would overtake the land if they acted in obedience.
“13 But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, 14 and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, O Lord, are in the midst of this people. For you, O Lord, are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them and you go before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if you kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard your fame will say, 16 ‘It is because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to give to them that he has killed them in the wilderness.’ 17 And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ 19 Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.'”
We see in both verse 19 and 20 that God listens when we sincerely admit our faults and ask Him to pardon our sins. There are, however, still consequences for complaining against God and showing a lack of gratitude for His provision, as we see in the following verses, and time and time again throughout the Israelites’ journey.
In more modern times, we aren’t unlike the people of Israel once were. Too often, we pride ourselves on being rebels with our own will, sticking to our own plans, rather than the ones God has directed for us.
” 7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”
Let us not be the generation that does not enter the Lord’s rest. Let us not harden our hearts to truth, or be ashamed to stand for morality and righteousness. Let us not provoke the Lord’s anger through rebellion against His commands. Let our hearts not go astray, or ignore the knowledge of the ways of the Lord. In 1 Samuel 12:23a, God clearly states that:
“Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as worshiping idols.”
Rebellion brings us closer to the demonic rather than the Divine. Hearing truth doesn’t lead to positive results when couple with a rebellious heart. A rebellious heart and unbelief go hand-in-hand, and restrict the person who embodies them from entering eternity with Christ. We must gently, but firmly, impress upon us there the urgency for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.