Numbers 14: To Inspire Despair

Numbers 14 is a loaded chapter that became increasingly difficult to boil down to one or two points. So I have decided to open up a fire hose on you. Get ready!

Here are some thoughts in no particular order. (oh, make sure you read what happened in Numbers 13 for some helpful context)

Thoughts In No Particular Order

  • The people accept the negative report without an ounce of critique. When Joshua and Caleb plead their case, the people want to stone them to death. Why? They are afraid. And when people are afraid, words of courage and hope can feel like a death sentence. They are acting out of fear and self-protection. Which leads me to my next point.
  • It is a lot easier to inspire fear than it is to inspire hope and courage. (This will be important later)
  • Egypt is once again recalled with selective memory. That place sucked but the people are ready to fire Moses, get a new leader, and head right back to the mud pits.
  • In response, God has a conversation with Moses that bears an eerie and uncanny resemblance to a conversation they had in Exodus 32 after the Golden Calf incident. God is ready to disinherit the people and make Moses into a great nation. Moses reminds him that there are better ways of handling the situation. God forgives. Sort of.
  • There is a catch. Every person (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) who was in Egypt will not enter the Promised Land. They will die in the wilderness. Which is ironic because . . .
  • Their fear in entering the land is that they would all die. They decided to stay and not trust God. Now they will all die. Bummer. Which brings me to my next point . . .
  • Sometimes we write our own “death sentences.”
  • When the people hear this, they fall into a state of despair. In their despair, they march right into the land of the Amalekites and Canaanites and die by the sword. Which brings me to my next point . . .
  • Nothing good ever happened by acting out of despair. These people had children who needed parents. Sure, they weren’t going to make it into the land but their kids were! Those kids needed to be raised well and now, because their parents acted in despair, they are all alone.

Ok, so those thoughts were basically in chronological order. Whatever!

A Note For Those Who Lead

You shape the reality of those who follow you.

The spies returned with their report. Ten of them did their absolute best to convince the people that they should be very afraid. Joshua and Caleb tried to do the opposite by trusting God and acting out of hope and courage.

The people decided to go with fear.

It is easier to inspire fear than it is to inspire hope and courage. (See, I told you that would be important)

Which reality are you shaping in those around you? Fear? Or Hope?

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9 responses

  1. Happy New Year! Glad to see you took some time away like most of us did, lol. The commentary I’ve been pouring over as I start reading the Bible from top-to-bottom again sets the tone about Numbers 14 with this line: “Verses 3 and 4 demonstrate graphically the stupidity of unbelief.” I love it! It’s so true!

  2. I remember hearing a sermon about this years ago–the visiting speaker said that God had a unique business opportunity for the faithful witnesses: “The Joshua & Caleb Mortuary.” Point is sometimes it feels like the reward of faithfulness is unrelenting unpleasantness. They were ready to go in, yet had to bury the unbelieving generation on the way. For 40 long years. Doesn’t seem like much of a reward. Perhaps this was a test?

  3. Apparently Im going to comment on every post in the new year. Good job with this. I was fired up and aggravated with the people of Egypt. So glad you took a calm approach to this! I logged on expecting you to be all ‘What the Hell, Egypt?!?!’ but you took it different, more inspiring path! Nice job! Thanks for the perspective!

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