In Numbers 14:17-24 we have recorded for us the interaction between God and Moses after the spies refused to trust God.
First, it is amazing that we have – available to us – the recorded conversation of a man (Moses) and God! And this conversation was from around 1445 BC! Crazy!
After the ten plagues and the miracles in the wilderness (manna, water, quail, pillar, cloud) the people of Israel still did not trust God to take care of them. This is kind of like us when after 40 years (or however many) we’ve always had food and shelter and then lose a job and wonder how we’ll manage? The same way we did for the previous 40 (or however many) – by faith!
Another crazy aspect of this portion of Scripture is that Moses intercedes for the people and God actually forgives them! Like Abraham bargaining with God for Sodom or the poor soul that needed bread in the late night hour in the Gospels – God hears the prayer. And by hear I mean He answers in the affirmative!
God pardoned/forgave them because Moses asked! What if Moses hadn’t cared and hadn’t asked?
It’s not just God demonstrating compassion here, Moses has learned from God what it means to care deeply about people – even when they don’t care deeply in return. In fact from God’s perspective, they have been disobedient, disloyal, despising of Him and tested Him. And yet, He’s willing to pardon at the request of Moses.
Alas, the pardon does not eradicate the effects/consequences of this rebellion – they have forfeited the land. Only the faithful Caleb (and Joshua) will enter the land. There are consequences to our sin. Others pay the price as well
- the children of the Israelite’s paid the price
- the whole nation paid as they wandered in the wilderness
- even the faithful paid as they wandered for 40 years too!
As I reflect on this Old Testament passage today I am again thankful for the gift of the Old Testament – an act of God’s grace to reveal Himself to us!