Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! (Numbers 14:2b)
God had rescued His people. They were surrounded by death in Egypt, as their sons were killed at birth. The Children of Israel watched the plagues fall upon Egypt until, finally, Pharaoh was compelled to release them -- after the death of many Egyptian sons. Even then he changed his mind and chased them into his own disbelieving death.
And here they are, just over a year later, standing at the edge of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This was to be their home. All twelve spies agreed that this promised land flowed with milk and honey. They brought back proof of harvest. They stood at the edge of fulfilled promise – and feared.
They feared what it would take to follow God’s will. They lacked the faith to walk across the river and find that God’s promise held good. They forgot the strength of their original salvation. How soon they forgot – but has it taken us any longer?
They wish for death. Be careful, very careful, what you wish for. This generation that wished for death in the wilderness was granted that wish.
And 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? (Numbers 14:11)
Moses was given an option:
I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. (Numbers 14:12)
The promise God made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob could be accomplished through Moses. Moses declined. He understood that God’s reputation was at stake. If Moses accepted being lifted to the level offered, it would impact the belief of nations yet to come. What an awesome understanding that God’s will is for His glory, not for any individual’s.
The people had seen all that God could do. Yet they feared that He could not continue to do so. Thus, they died as they wished.
Because 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; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: (Numbers 14:22-23)
Even as sinners saved by God’s grace through Jesus Christ, the choice is ours. Follow God’s will into His promise for our life, or die fearfully in the wilderness. How would we look upon that generation had they left us a legacy of faith rather than fear?
Which will you live? Faith or fear? Is there another alternative? Of what value to God or to you? Where lies the glory for Him?