In Numbers 13-14 the story of the Israelites journey out of Egypt to the Promised Land hits a roadblock. The people of Israel after seeing how powerful God is, parting the Red Sea so they could go through and not around it, providing food that sustained them in a wilderness, disobeyed God out of pure fear and faithlessness. You see God had promised Moses that He would give the land of Canaan to the people of Israel but the land that He had promised them was already occupied! What made things even worse was that based on a report brought back by some who had been sent to spy in this land their cities were fortified and the people were strong and fit able to defend their land . Here was the testing of their faith! Guess what they failed. Like many of us today who use what we see and not our faith in God to solve our problems they failed.
They had been promised a land that “flowed with milk and honey” but this time they had to overcome a people that seemed stronger than they were and guess what those people were stronger than them. We have to remember that the Israelites had been walking in the wilderness for quite some time now, while they people of Canaan had been comfortably secure in their land enjoying this milk and honey. Along this journey many Israelites had lost faith, complaining about the lack of comfort, lack of food, even proclaiming that they had been brought out of Egypt to starve in the wilderness! Yes if many of us were in that same position we would have probably done the same or worse, who knows; we have never been in such a position.
So, based on the reports brought back going to Canaan as they Lord had said was a no go. Here again many would have thought that God must have been mistaken, “don’t know what him talking bout” and so they agreed among themselves to take a hard pass on this plan that God had come up with. Maybe He needed to go back to the drawing board because that was not it! These grasshoppers as some of the spies referred to themselves just would not survive such daring.
So in fear the people rebelled against God instead of unitying to complete His will for them. They rejected God like a leading there encouraging His people they tuned Him out completely. They decided “oh well after coming this far and realising that Moses mad let us pick another leader and head back to Egypt, might as well”. They were willing to go back through the wilderness to a place they could no longer prosper in because they feared trusting in God and the plans He had for them. The milk and honey could not tempt them saving themselves was much more real and important.
At this point Moses is distraught he knows that punishment is near, God will not allow this rebellion to go unpunished. Can you imagine how vexed God was at this point? What an ungrateful set a people!
God was ready to give the people what they wanted, their wilderness. However Moses interceded and God relented because of one man. Of all the spies sent out Caleb was the only one who came back and encouraged the people that the occupiers of this land could be defeated. However, in a sea of doubt his reassurances were drowned out. For his sake God did abandon His promise to give the Promised Land to the Israelites. However, this gift was delayed as an entire generation could not enter the Promised Land but had to wonder the desert. Yes, so close yet so far.
They stumbled and many fell. Today there are many things that prevent us from experiencing our promised land; at the point when we are about to have that experience we allow fear to run the show. We expect life to be smooth sailing and when it is not, we promptly grab our hearts which have fallen out of our chests and we run for the caves. We need to take heart when we are faced with challenges and remember that we are never alone in our distress. It may be hard to imagine but there is always something better waiting for us beyond the problem we now face. God is faithful to us we just need to return the favour.