Doubting in the Desert // Numbers 14:1-10
1. That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.
2. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert!
3. Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”
4. And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
5. Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there.
6. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes
7. and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.
8. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.
9. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
10. But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites.
Second-Guessing God’s Goodness (14:1–4)
The Israelites have seen God’s mighty hand work miracles right before their eyes. God brought the ten plagues upon Egypt; He broke the chains of their slavery; He parted the Red Sea and destroyed Pharaoh’s army; He provided manna and quail as food in the wilderness. But after learning that taking possession of the Promised Land may be more difficult than they thought, the Israelites turn against all the evidence before them and doubt that God will come through for them. Rather than trust the One who has protected and provided for them from the beginning, they begin to make their own plans for survival, saying they will choose a new leader and return to a life of slavery. Though they know God’s power, they doubt His goodness.
Level-Headed Leadership (14:5–10)
Amidst hysteria, Moses and Aaron do not harshly rebuke the crowd or force them into submission. Instead, they fall “facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly” (v. 5). Their priority is a proper posture before the Almighty, not posturing before the people. As a show of support for and trust in their God-appointed leaders, explorers Joshua and Caleb encourage the people to remain committed to the task at hand, believing that God will take care of them wherever He may lead them. Humility and faith are key characteristics of a godly leader. It is under the guidance of these four faithful men that God will eventually bring Israel into the Promised Land victoriously.
– Have you ever doubted God’s goodness during any of life’s more difficult journeys? Where have you seen evidence of His goodness in the hard times?
– What is your usual response to fear? Who is a leader or mentor you can lean on to help point you back to God’s purposes in times of doubt?
A LETTER TO GOD:
Mighty heavenly Father, I pray that You would constantly remind me of Your goodness as You call me to trust in You. Rid my mind of doubt, and fill it with faith and devotion. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.