Moses-The Friend of God- Part 12- A Missed Opportunity

The Friend of God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The children of Israel arrive at the edge of the promised land but turn back in fear and fail to enter in.

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Introduction- Number 13:1-4 & 17-21
The children of Israel have now been traveling through the wilderness for around a year and a half arriving on the brink of the land that God had promised.
God directs Moses to send spies into the land in order to gain information about the land and its inhabitants.
Forty days later the spies returned with some good news as well as what they perceived to be some bad news.
The good news was that the land was exactly as God had promised them. (Vs. 26-27)
The bad news was that the people who dwelled there were stone and the cities were well fortified. (Vs. 28-29)
Tonight we will consider the response of the people to the report of the spies.
In the midst of the report a spy named Caleb stilled the people and confidently declared his belief that they were well able to take the land God had promised them. (Vs. 30)
Yet all of the other spies apart from Joshua were just as confident that they would not be able to conquer the land and its inhabitants. (Vs. 31-33)
The congregation of Israel now had a choice to make. Who would they believe and what would they do in response to the report they had received.
It becomes immediately clear that the people...

Reluctance to Trust (Ch. 14 Vs. 1-4)

The people immediately conclude that it would be futile for them to attempt to take the land.
They spend the night weeping and murmuring against the leaders that God had set over them.
They even come to the conclusion that they would have been better served to have remained in Egypt to die there or to have died in the wilderness.
They seem certain that to attempt to take the land would be a death sentence and that there is no way that they can conquer the land.
The people then make a determination that they should choose our a new leader and make their way back to Egypt.
One has to wonder why after all that they had witnessed thus far, the parting of the Red Sea and the defeat of the Egpytian army, the bringing forth of water from the rock, the provision of manna from heaven, the glory of God filling the tabernacle, etc.. how could they still fail to trust God?
Yet you and I are often no different. Has God ever asked us to step out in faith to follow Him when we knew the odds were against us? Have we not also at times doubted God and refused to step out?
Have we not ourselves been tempted to turn back in fear when we should have gone forward in faith?
At this reaction Moses and Aaron fall on their faces and Joshua and Caleb make a valiant effort to convince the people that they can trust God and that they can defeat the inhabitants of the land as God has promised. (Vs. 5-8)
They plead with the people not to rebel against the Lord for they are convinced that God will deliver the enemy into their hands and will bring them into the land as He had promised He would. (Vs. 9)

Rebellion’s Consequences (Vs. 22-25)

Moses pleads once more for mercy from God and that He would forgive the people for their rebellion.
God does indeed pardon them but there are still some serious consequences for their sin.
The Lord pronounces judgment upon all those who refused to hearken to His voice.
These would not only not enter the promised land at the present moment but would die in the wilderness having never experienced the land of promise.
Only those too young to fight and those who were ready to fight (Joshua and Caleb) would ever step foot in the land.
When we rebel against God refusing to follow Him there will be consequences and sometimes they may be severe.
The people had the opportunity to go in and claim the promised land but their rebellion cost them.
God now declares that they shall wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
The spies who brought the evil report immediately died by a plague from the Lord and Joshua and Caleb were the sole survivors.

Repentance (Vs. 40)

When judgment was pronounced the people acknowledged their sin and were then ready to go forward to claim the land recognizing their great mistake in turning back.
Yet there is a problem because God has denied them entry and will not now go with them so they are quickly defeated having now missed the opportunity to enter the promised land.
Hebrews 3:15–19 KJV 1900
While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
The people could not enter into the land because of their unbelief and even though the acknowleded their sin and turned back to God the opportunity to enter the land was now gone.
This should stand as a warning to you and I not to rebel in unbelief for we may miss the opportunity that the Lord has for us.
Many have turned back from following God in unbelief and in so doing have missed the opportunity that God placed before them.
These may find repentance and restoration but they may never again have the same opportunity again.
May we determine to trust God and to follow Him in faith even when the way seems hard and the odds are against us.
It may be that God is leading us to a great victory that we might otherwise miss.
May we learn a valuable lesson from this event in the life of the children of Israel.
We must learn to trust God and to follow Him no matter how difficult the circumstances may seem.
We must recognize that rebellion has serious consequences and that in failing to follow God immediately we may miss the opportunity He has for us.
One can easily imagine that as the people returned from being defeated in battle against the foes that a great many were consumed with regret and remorse that they had failed to follow God at first.
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