Have you ever known a boy or girl who was so stubborn that they only wanted THEIR way all the time？Do you want that kind of person for a friend？Do YOU ever act stubborn and want your own way？Poor Moses, he had the job of leading an entire nation of very stubborn people! Even after they were set free from slavery in Egypt,the people of Israel were still continually grumbling, disobeying, and not believing God.
Let’s pretend we are out there in the wilderness with the Israelites, packing up our tents and things. We’re leaving the wilderness around Mount Sinai, because we see the pillar of cloud is moving on! Now the cloud led north to Kadesh on the border of Canaan, the Promised Land! It had been about 15 months and 400 miles ago that they left Egypt and a life of cruel slavery. From this point in the wilderness, they could probably see the hills of Canaan, their new home!
Numbers 13 begins, And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Send men that they may search the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel. Actually the Lord was giving them their own request, for they were fearful of what lay ahead. He instructed Moses to choose a man from every tribe, that would be 12 men. Shhh! They were to go on a secret mission as spies! Boys, does that sound exciting？
Moses told them to check out the people, to see if they were weak or strong, if they lived in tents or in strongholds.They were to check out the land, to see if it was a rich fertile land or bare.Do you ever pretend that you are a spy？A real spy would have to be very careful, wouldn’t they!
Soon the 12 spies left on their secret mission. They obeyed Moses’ orders, and after 40 days of searching the land, they returned to the camp. They had their report ready and they also brought back some of the delicious fruit of the land! In one area called the brook Eshcol, they found ripe grapes in such huge clusters that it took two men to carry one cluster of grapes! When they gathered around to tell Moses and the people of Israel, I’m sure the people were amazed to see such giant fruit!
“Surely this is a rich and fruitful land, ” some of the spies began to say, “BUT! The people who live there are strong, and some are giants, and their cities are surrounded by very thick, high walls.”
Caleb, one of the 12 spies, saw the dismay on the faces of the people of Israel. Giants？Walled cities？This sounded very discouraging! But with great boldness and confidence, Caleb spoke up, “Let’s go immediately and take the land! We are well able to overcome it!” Caleb remembered God’s many miracles of delivering and saving the people, and he knew God’s promise in Exodus 23：27：“I will send my fear before you, and will destroy all the people to whom you shall come.”
But not all the spies believed God. Joshua and Caleb found themselves suddenly divided from the other 10 spies. The ten cried out, “We are NOT able to go up against the people, they are too strong for us! All the people we saw there were so big, we were like grasshoppers in their sight!”
Numbers 14：1 says, And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people cried that night. And here they go again, boys and girls! They all complained and blamed Moses and Aaron for bringing them out of Egypt. We wish we had died in the land of Egypt! Did the Lord bring us out here to kill our wives and children with the sword？Then they said, Let us make a captain and go back to Egypt.
The Bible says Moses and Aaron were so grieved and upset, they fell on their faces before all the people. How could these people still be so stubborn and rebellious？Why must they always insist on having their way？Would they never believe and follow the God Who loved and cared for them？ Weren’t the Israelites acting like spoiled children, crying and wanting their own way？They had turned not only against their leaders, but against God. Not only Moses and Aaron were upset, but also Joshua and Caleb.
They tore their clothes, and cried out to the people：The land which we searched is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us. Only we must not rebel against the LORD. And you don’t need to be afraid of the people, they are bread for us：their defence is departed from them,and the LORD is with us：don’t be afraid.!
Still the rebellious people would not believe. They were about to start throwing big stones at them to kill Joshua and Caleb, when suddenly the LORD Himself interrupted.
God’s Word says the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle, or tent church, and the LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people provoke Me？How long willit be before they believe Me for all the miracles I have showed them？I will strike them with terrible disease, and put them away. I will take you, Moses, and make a greater and mightier nation than they.”
God was so displeased with Israel, He was about to destroy them. But Moses again pleaded with God for Israel, asking for their forgiveness. God in His great patience did forgive them, but still, they would suffer for their unbelief. God said that instead of going right on into the land of Canaan, they would wander here and there in the wilderness for 40 more years...one year for every day they had explored Canaan.
All the adults would die within that 40 years, all but Joshua and Caleb. And the next generation of Israelites would be the ones to go to the Promised Land.The ten spies who had discouraged the people were struck with disease and died at that time. Then the very next day, many of the people died, for they decided they weren’t going to wander around for 40 years!
They were going to go into Canaan. With Moses warning them “Do not go! The Lord is not with you!” they stubbornly went on, and many were killed by the people of Canaan.. Their lives were cut short, they missed seeing God’s wonderful victories in the land of Canaan, and they would never get to enjoy being with their people there...all because of their evil heart of unbelief.