06 August 2012

Why the Hebrews Wandered

You know the story of the wilderness wanderings.  God delivered His people from Egypt’s bondage on Passover night; He destroyed Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea, where the Hebrews had crossed on dry ground; then He gave Moses His law atop Mount Sinai.  From Mount Sinai (aka Horeb), it was an 11-day journey to Kadesh-barnea (Deuteronomy 1:2), from whence the people would enter the promised land.

If you grew up in Sunday school, you probably learned the tale of what happened there in song form (though you may not realize it).  It was at this point that…

Twelve men went to spy on Canaan.
(Ten were bad, and two were good.)
What do you think they saw in Canaan?
(Ten were bad, and two were good.)
Some saw giants big and strong;
Some saw grapes with clusters long;
Some saw God was in it all.
(Ten were bad, and two were good.)

That’s about how it went.  Ten of the twelve spies brought back an evil report: “The land is great, but there are giants!  There’s no way we can take this land.”  Joshua and Caleb objected: “With God, we are well able to overcome those giants!  Let’s go and claim the land God promised us.”

The people sided with the ten, and God was not at all pleased.  His sentence for their unbelief was that they would spend 40 years wandering in the wilderness (a year for each day the spies searched the land) and that no one twenty years old and up, except Joshua and Caleb, would enter the promised land. 

The Lord makes an interesting statement as He’s communicating this judgment to the people.  In Numbers 14:31 God says, “But your little ones, which ye thought should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.”

This is telling.  At least part of the reason that the people were hesitant to believe God and follow God and enter the promised land was they thought it would put their children in danger.  They thought that believing God and obeying God and following God would somehow expose their little ones to harm.

Allow me to make a practical application and suggest that to this day, this mindset is prevalent among some of God’s people.  Still today there are saved people who hesitate to follow the Lord in full obedience to His word and enter the realm of blessing that is the victorious Christian life because they are somehow convinced that it would harm their children.

Here’s what I think the problem is: I think that some of God’s people who got saved later in life or got involved in a Bible-believing church later in life, they had a good, somewhat moral, though by biblical standards worldly upbringing – and they enjoyed it.  And they’re afraid that if they go all out for God and really live by the Bible, a separated life, then their kids will “miss out” on those worldly things that they enjoyed as a young person (prom, dating, movies, devotion to sports, etc.).  Or they’re afraid that absolute surrender to the will and word of God will endanger their children’s chances at being accepted in life (and what could be more important?) or successful in life (as the world defines it).

In Moses’ day, there was a mixt multitude that fell a lusting (Numbers 11:4).  They were promised a land that flowed with milk and honey, but they remembered the leeks and the onions and the garlic of Egypt, and it made them want to go back instead of forward. 

Likewise, in our day, there are many saved people who are more influenced by the lusts of their flesh than they are the word of God.  They hear there are promised blessings to those who trust the Lord enough to follow Him (Psalm 34:8), but they remember the things they enjoyed from their old life, and they’re not convinced that what God is offering is that much better.  They feel like they’d be hurting their kids if they don’t let them experience the things that they experienced in their youth. 

What a sad and tragic mistake.  One I hope that none of us will repeat. 

If we obey the word of God and decide to fully follow Him (Numbers 14:24), there might be some things our kids miss out on as a result.  Temporal things, earthly things, carnal things.  Some wrong.  Some not. 

But if we fail to obey the word of God and fully follow Him, there might be some things our kids miss out on as a result.  Some eternal things.  Some spiritual blessings.  Some heavenly rewards.

May we realize and ever remember that forsaking the world and following the Lord will be no danger to us or our children.  And may we all follow Him into the promised land of blessing, instead of wandering around in the wilderness ‘til we die.  

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