Belief and Blessing // Numbers 14:11-25
11. The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?
12. I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”
13. Moses said to the LORD, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them.
14. And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, O LORD, are with these people and that you, O LORD, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
15. If you put these people to death all at one time, the nations who have heard this report about you will say,
16.’The LORD was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath; so he slaughtered them in the desert.’
17. “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared:
18. ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.’
19. In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
20. The LORD replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.
21. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth,
22. not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times-
23. not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.
25. Since the Amalekites and Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea. “
Priorities in Perspective (14:11–19)
Moses is known among Christians as one of the most faithful leaders in biblical history; his conversation with God in these verses is one of the reasons why. As he approaches God to intercede for the people in the face of His righteous anger, Moses’s attitude is rooted in his humble devotion to God’s people and an undying commitment to God’s plan. Casting aside the opportunity to become the father of a new nation, Moses reveals his deep knowledge of God’s character by appealing to God’s top priority: His glory. Moses does not ask Him to forgive or tolerate this disobedient nation for the sake of their comfort or prosperity but for the sole purpose of furthering God’s glory among the nations.
Pardon and Punishment (14:20–25)
Responding to Moses’s plea for pardon, God forgives His people because of His grace but disciplines them because of His justice. The adult generation of Israel will not enter the Promised Land, and they will be excluded from the blessings of His promise. It is contradictory to God’s character to let disobedience go unpunished. Yet God readily forgives the sins of His people. How is this possible? The wrath that we deserve for our sins was poured out on His Son on the cross, and it is only through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice that we are spared from God’s judgment.
– Are your priorities aligned with God’s priorities? What do you value most in this life, and how does it shine through your words and actions?
– In what areas of your life do you habitually struggle to trust in God? Have you forfeited any blessings because of your unbelief?