Dave Burnette's Commentary

Numbers Chapter 14

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Moses
Date Penned: (1450-1410 BC)
Overview: A Record of Israel's Unbelief (c 1-27)
Theme: The First Approach to the Promised Land (c 10-14)
Message: Moses Prays for the Rebellious People (v 1-45)

Numbers 14 Commentary

(14:1-4) Joining the Crowd - When the chorus of despair went up, everyone joined in. Their greatest fears were being realized. Losing their perspective, the people were caught up in the emotion of the moment, forgetting what they knew about God's character. What if the people had spent as much energy moving forward as they did moving back? They could have enjoyed their land-instead, they never even entered it. When a cry of despair goes up around you, consider the larger perspective before you join in. You have better ways to use your energy than to complain.

(14:5-9) Fear not Faith - With great miracles, God had led the Israelites out of slavery, through the desolate wilderness, and up to the very edge of the Promised Land. He had protected them, fed them, and fulfilled every promise. Yet when encouraged to take that last step of faith and enter the land, the people refused. After witnessing so many miracles, why did they stop trusting God? Why did they refuse to enter the Promised Land when that had been their goal since leaving Egypt? They were afraid. Often we do the same thing. We trust God to handle the smaller issues but doubt his ability to take care of the big problems, the tough decisions, or the frightening situations. Don't stop trusting God just as you are ready to reach your goal. He brought you this far and won't let you down now. We can continue trusting God by remembering all he has done for us.

(14:6-10) Listen to Reason - Two wise men, Joshua and Caleb, encouraged the people to act on God's promise and move ahead into the land. The people rejected their advice and even talked of killing them. Don't be too quick to reject advice you don't like. Evaluate it carefully, comparing it to the teaching in God's Word. God may be speaking to you through it.

(14:6) A Showing of Distress -  "Rent their clothes" meant that they tore their garments. This was a customary way of showing deep sorrow, mourning, or despair. Joshua and Caleb were greatly distressed by the people's refusal to enter the land.

(14:13-16) Our Reputation - The people didn't deserve it, but Moses pleaded for them because he was concerned about God's reputation among unbelievers. Think of the reputation you give God by the way you live. What your friends and neighbors think about God is more important than what they think about you.

(14:17-20) Moses Pleads with God - Moses pleaded with God, asking him to forgive the people. His plea and God's response reveal several characteristics of God: (1) God is immensely patient; (2) God's love is one promise we can always count on; (3) God forgives again and again; and (4) God is merciful, listening to and answering our requests. God has not changed since Moses' day. Like Moses, we can rely on God's patience, love, forgiveness, and mercy.

(14:17-19) Moses Prays for Mercy - Moses asked God to have mercy on the very people who were being rebellious. He prayed for those with whom he was most angry and frustrated. Do you pray for those who try to hurt you? Or do you seek revenge, asking God to help you to get even? Only men and women who have a deep relationship with God can remain firm under pressure and pray for their attackers. They understand that the God who called them to their task will take the responsibility of settling the score with those who rebel. It is not the child's job to discipline a sibling; it's the parents'. In the same way, it is not our job to seek revenge against those who wrong us. God will make certain that, in the end, justice is carried out.

(14;20-23) A Refusal to Trust the Lord - The people of Israel had a clearer view of God than any people before them, for they had his laws and his physical presence. Their refusal to follow God after witnessing his
miraculous deeds and listening to his words made the judgment against them more severe. Increased opportunity brings increased responsibility. As Jesus said, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke 12:48). How much greater is our responsibility to obey and serve God--we have the whole Bible, and we know God's Son, Jesus Christ.

(14:21-22) A Pattern of Distrust - God wasn't exaggerating when he said that the Israelites had ten times failed to trust and obey him. Here is a list of their ten failures: (I) lacking trust at the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14711-12); (2) complaining about bitter water at Marah (Exodus 15:24); (3) complaining in the wilderness of Sin (Exodus 16:3); (4) collecting more than the daily quota of manna (Exodus 16:20); (5) trying to collect manna on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:27-29); (6) complaining about the lack of water at Rephidim (Exodus 17:2-3); (7) engaging in idolatry with a gold calf (Exodus 32:7-10); (8) complaining at Taberah (Numbers 11:1-2); (9) complaining about the lack of delicious food (Numbers 11:4-6); and (10) failing to trust God and enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14:1-4).

(14:24) A Reward for Obedience - The fulfillment of this verse is recorded in Joshua 14:6-15, when Caleb received his inheritance in the Promised Land. Caleb followed God with all his heart and was rewarded for his obedience. Are you wholehearted in your commitment to obey God?

(14:34) Following Fear's Price - God's judgment came in the form the people feared most. The people were afraid of dying in the wilderness, so God punished them by making them wander in the wilderness until they died. Now they wished they had the problem of facing the giants and the fortified cities of the Promised Land. Failing to trust God often brings even greater problems than those we originally faced. When we run from God, we inevitably run into problems.

(14:35) Grace for the Next Generation - Was this judgment-wandering 40 years in the wilderness- too harsh? Not compared to the instant death that God first threatened (14:12). Instead, God allowed the people to live. God had brought his people to the edge of the Promised Land, just as he said he would. He was ready to give them the rich land, but the people didn't want it (24:1-4). By this time, God had put up with a lot. At least ten times, the people had refused to trust and obey him (14:22). The whole nation (except for Joshua, Caleb, Moses, and Aaron) showed contempt for and distrust of God. But God's punishment was not permanent. In 40 years, a new generation would have the chance to enter Canaan (Joshua 1-3).

(14:40-44) A Lack of True Repentance -  When the Israelites realized their foolish mistake, they were suddenly ready to return to God. But God didn't confuse their admission of guilt with true repentance because he knew their hearts. Sure enough, they soon went their own way again. Though God does desire to forgive, sometimes our right actions or good intentions may come too late. We should take this as a warning that it is important not only to do what is right but also to do it at the right time. God wants our complete and instant obedience. And we should remember that the obedience God demands will always lead to ultimate good for everyone called upon to obey him.

Dave Burnette's Life Application

Say "Yes" to the Lord

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue the book of Numbers with Chapter 14 and in today's text we see Ten of the twelve spies give their opinion on the land and Israel forgets God. After all that the Lord has done for Israel we see them wanting to go back to the bondage of Egypt. How sad to see such a lack of faith with so much evidence and proof that the Lord will do what He Promised in giving them this land. In making application we see - that we too - will face decisions that will have the Lord's Promise and the World's discouraging bad advice. It is at that time we will have to decide to have faith in the Lord verses going with the crowd or following the world. How about you? What decision will you make when the world says go this way and God say go My Way? Let us learn from our text today and the wrong decision of Israel and say "yes" to the Lord's direction and avoid the wilderness.


Numbers 14

Numbers 14

 1And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.

 2And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!

 3And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?

 4And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.

 5Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.

 6And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:

 7And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.

 8If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.

 9Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.

 10But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.

 11And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?

 12I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.

 13And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)

 14And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.

 15Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,

 16Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.

 17And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,

 18The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

 19Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.

 20And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:

 21But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

 22Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;

 23Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:

 24But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

 25(Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) Tomorrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.

 26And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

 27How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.

 28Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:

 29Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me.

 30Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

 31But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.

 32But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.

 33And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.

 34After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.

 35I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.

 36And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land,

 37Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD.

 38But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.

 39And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.

 40And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned.

 41And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.

 42Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.

 43For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the LORD, therefore the LORD will not be with you.

 44But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.

 45Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.


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