Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.” Numbers 14:10-12, ESV.
The story is familiar to most. The ten spies tell the people that the land was too dangerous. Caleb and Joshua counter with a call to take the land by faith. The people weep and whine. Moses and Aaron fall on their faces. Caleb and Joshua again call the people to faith in the promises of God. The people, caught up in fear, seek their death.
Then God shows up at the tabernacle. He declares that the people’s lack of faith in Him and His promises is an act of hatred toward His person. He has brought them out of Egypt with miraculous sign after miraculous sign, but they still do not trust Him. So, He will put an end to His relationship with them, bring disease to them, and start over with a new people from the line of Moses.
Unbelief is an egregious sin. It reveals itself when life’s circumstances seem to turn against us. In our day, it shows up when we put more faith in news reports, political pontification, scientific studies, and social media posts than we do in the promises of God. Then, by trusting in them instead of the promises of God, we declare our hatred for Him. We would be foolish to think that He who was ready to be done with Israel would tolerate such behavior from us.
As we continue in Numbers, we will see God show His grace to His people once more, but we do well to consider this lesson about God’s judgment against unbelief before we turn that page. Now is the time for us to consider the promises of God to His people, trust those promises, and take the “land” he has given us. What is our land? The New Testament offers us some clues. Hebrews 11:10 tells us that even Abraham, the patriarch who received the first land promise, “was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” Paul writes of “the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world . . . through the righteousness of faith.”
I pray that you will see the world through the promises of God today and walk by faith.