"'As truly as I live,' saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in Mine ears, so will I do to you."
Numbers 14: 28
King James Version
"When 40 Days Equals 40 Years"
"Be deeply affected with the mischievous effects and consequences of schisms and divisions; and let nothing beneath a plain necessity divide you from communion with one another; at the fire of your contentions your enemies warm their hands, and say, 'Alas, so would we have it.'"
John F. Ravel
How have I seen divisive behavior ruin relationships?
"Discord and division become no Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous."
"Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."
Psalm 133: 1
King James Version
The spies had scouted out the land of Canaan, and the children of Israel were on the border of the Promised Land. You would think the cry would be, "All systems GO!" But instead, negativity and murmuring were the daily activities. What was to be a unified nation led by God, was a fractured mess. And sadly, the two positive voices among the spies, Caleb and Joshua, were shouted down by those who focused only on the giant challenges awaiting in the land of Canaan. Somewhere between Egypt and the border of Canaan, God's children completely forgot that Canaan was the "Promised Land." Not promised by man, but promised by God. This was the land God promised Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the 12 tribes – all descendants of these men.
Yet with the bickering and grumbling – what was to be a unified nation under God had become a disjointed gang of dissatisfied wanderers who doubted God's leading, despised Moses guidance, and couldn't get along with each other.
And so, days before what should have been the most exciting event in the lives of these freed slaves, God had a message for His children:
"'As truly as I live,' saith the Lord,
'as ye have spoken in mine ears,
so will I do to you.'"
Numbers 14: 28
I don't know about you, but I underlined and "starred" this text in my Bible. I find this is a very special message from the God of the Universe to you and to me. God is saying, "Look, what you have said has reached My ears. Make no mistake, I heard what you said." Hallelujah! Isn't this a fabulous statement? God wants us to remember He hears what we say! My needs – He hears! My pain – He hears! My expressions of love – He hears! My words of gratitude – He hears!
But lest we forget, because God is listening all the time, God's ears also are tuned in to hear our complaints, our bad-mouthing, our deceitful words and the gossip we unleash on one anther. As Numbers 14: 28 reminds us, "Ye have spoken in mine ears." And then God says, "So will I do to you." God told the children of Israel, "Now I want your ears to hear what I have to say." And this is what God told the children of Israel:
"Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you,
according to your whole number, from 20 years old and upward, which have murmured against me, Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I swore to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised"
Numbers 14: 29-31,
God had heard all the comments, "Would we had died in Egypt! Would we had died in this wilderness!" And so God gave these ungrateful grouches what they had cried out for. And I ask you, why did God act in this way? I have to be honest. Before I began to really study the book of Numbers, I had the misconceived idea that God let these murmurers die in the desert because they had defied Him. But God is not a vindictive God. Nor is He arbitrary. He doesn't say, "Love Me or I'll kill you!" He doesn't demand unthinking obedience. The Bible says unequivocally that our God is love.
So God couldn't have left these people, His people, to wander another 40 years in the desert without a good reason, and I found several that we will continue to study in the next few days.
However, the first reason is found in Numbers 14: 31 when God says, "They (your little ones) shall know the land that ye have despised." In the Hebrew translation, the word "despised" has several meanings, all of which are critical to our study today. One meaning is the word "abhor" which means to "reject vehemently." Interestingly enough, another Hebrew meaning of the word "despise" is "to utterly reject." Rather than God forcing Canaan, the land promised to His children, upon a fighting, bickering group of divided people, He heard what they had said. "We despise this land, we abhor this land, we reject this land," God their Father, gave them what they said they wanted – a desert life – which in the end proved to be a 40 year excursion, ending with their desert death.
In the next few days, we will spend time on this specific passage, Numbers 16, because there is so much more for us to learn from the experience of God's children. In our studies we will uncover the lessons learned by 40 years in the desert and look at what God wanted from His children before they crossed over into the Promised Land – lessons that apply directly to all God's sons and daughters today.
to whom all hearts are open,
to whom all wills speak
and from whom no secret is hidden,
I beg you
so to cleanse the intent of my heart
with the unutterable gift of your grace,
that I may perfectly love you
and worthily praise you."
The fourteenth-century author of
The Cloud of Unknowing
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
(Available May 2009)