Daily D – Numbers 14:41-45
Numbers 14:41-45 But Moses said, “Why are you disobeying the LORD’s command? This will not succeed! Do not go up, because the LORD is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, for the Amalekites and the Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the LORD, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.”
Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the highest point in the hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the LORD’s covenant moved from the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.
Today’s lesson is How to Fail.
Here is a mere simple thought
Do not go where God is not
Read Numbers 13 and 14 for full context. God told Moses to “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders,” (13:1, 2).
Moses did as he was told. He gave the explorers a mission from God:
18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many.
19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified?
20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.”
(It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)
They did what they were told and experienced significant success (13:21-25). The first part of their report was very good:
“We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit,” (13:27).
The second part was not so good:
“But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan,” (verses 28, 29).
Long story short, “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them,” (verse 33).
What to do, what to do?
Someone came up with a plan: “And they said to each other, ‘We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt,” (14:4).
Let us pause and remember what we have seen again and again since Genesis 1: Where God guides, God provides. Joshua and Caleb, the hardiest of the Twelve Explorers said, “If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us,” (verse 8).
The people were ready to stone to death Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Caleb and anyone else who trusted God (verse 10). Then God showed up. His sleeves were rolled up and his fists were clenched. (This dramatic language is a paraphrase.) He wanted to kill everyone but Moses and start all over with him. What did the Most Humble Man Who Ever Lived (12:3) say to that?
You can read his prayer in verses 13-19. Moses reminded God of what he had already promised. He appealed to God’s great love. He asked God to forgive them (again).
Herein is a prayer lesson. Give God a reason to say yes to your prayer requests. Remind God (and yourself) of his promises and his purpose. Align yourself with God, his promises, and his purpose. Seek his highest and best not only for yourself but for everyone else as well.
There is so much more good content in this chapter. Do make time to read it.
God told Moses to start leading in the direction from which they had come. Some people decided, however, that delayed obedience was as good as immediate obedience and launched out in the direction the Twelve Explorers had come from with the nice big cluster of grapes.
Moses warned them:
42 Do not go up, because the LORD is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, 43 for the Amalekites and the Canaanites will face you there.
Because you have turned away from the LORD, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.”
Can you predict what happened next? Verses 44 and 45 tell us of their great failure. Where God does not guide, God does not provide.
Here are straightforward lessons for people like us.
1. Where God guides, God provides.
2. Immediate obedience leads to success.
3. Delayed obedience is disobedience.
4. Do not go where God is not.
Moses discovered early on how doing God’s will his way is not what God means when he calls us to obey. See Exodus 2:11 and following for the rest of the story. Doing God’s will our way is one sure way to fail. Missing God’s opportune moment is another way to fail.
God said, “Go.”
The people said, “No.”
The people said, “Okay, we’ll go.”
God said, “Not now, no.”
Maybe today you and I have not learned how to fail. Maybe we are already pretty good at that. Remedial lessons are unnecessary. Maybe, however, we have learned how to diagnose our failures and have discovered how to prevent them as we move forward more intelligently.
Our greatest success,
the only success worth knowing,
is when we say yes
to where God is going.
We have hereby learned how to succeed in life.
I will go wherever God guides.
Our Father, in the words of one of the great hymns of our faith, Lead On, O King Eternal! Amen.
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Psalm 32:7-9 For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. Interlude The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
Exodus 39:42, 43 So the people of Israel followed all of the Lord’s instructions to Moses. Then Moses inspected all their work. When he found it had been done just as the Lord had commanded him, he blessed them.
Exodus 33:13 “If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.”
Exodus 31:1-5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!”