Then the Lord said, “I have pardoned, according to your word. But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. Now, since the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valleys, turn tomorrow and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea.” Numbers 14:20-25, ESV.
Sin has consequences. Man cannot act out in wicked rebellion against God and escape punishment. At times we might doubt this because the consequences do not always appear immediately. Nonetheless, sin has consequences. The ten spies who doubted the power of God to grant the Promised Land to Israel learned this lesson the hard way.
These ten men had declared that the might of people of the land was too much for God to overcome and Israel took their word for it. God proposed abandoning them to their foolishness and starting over with Moses. Moses begged for mercy based on the reputation and character of God. Now, in today’s passage and what follows, God chooses not to abandon the people, but to wear them out in the wilderness. He announces this as a judgment against their leaders, the ten men. Only Caleb and Joshua will be allowed to see the land.
God is gracious in this; only one generation suffers loss. All those under 20 years of age are spared. The covenant with His people is preserved and God’s reputation amongst the nations is preserved. The example of divine grace is a foreshadowing of things to come for us. Since we are all sinners, having doubted the goodness and the greatness of our God, we all deserve punishment for our sin. In fact, the infinite holiness of God demands that our sin receive an infinite punishment. That is why hell is eternal. On our own, we are helpless and doomed.
Praise God that we are not on our own. God’s grace has appeared in its most magnificent form in the person and work of Jesus, God in the flesh. Jesus took the sins of men upon Himself and, though He was a sinless man, suffered for them on the cross. He absorbed the full punishment and rose again on the third day. Those who repent of their sin and trust in Him can know they are entirely forgiven. What a glorious Savior!
I pray that you know this forgiveness and that it will be your joy today.