Please: don't let this tragedy be
repeated in your life.

 

   One morning, after the children of Israel had camped in the plain before Mount Sinai for about fourteen months, the cloud arouses from over the tent of meeting and moved forward.  News passed quickly from tent to tent throughout the camp.  We are moving! We are moving!  Shouted the boys and girls.  
 

   The tent of meeting was taken down in sections and carried by men of the tribe of Levi assigned to the task.  The ark with the golden angels was carried by means of poles that were put through rings on the sides of the chest.  The rest of the golden furniture was carried in the same manner.  

   The children of Israel journeyed until they came to the wilderness of Paran, south and west of the land of Canaan.  Eleven days after leaving Mount Sinai, Moses gave the signal to make a permanent camp, for the cloud rested over Kadesh.  

   Now the desert terrors were passed.  Kadesh was a beautiful oasis near the border of Canaan.  Green grass covered the valley, and streams of water gushed from the rocks.  Trees laden with rich fruit were a promise of the good things the people would have when they entered Canaan.

    At this camp plans were made to enter the land.  Moses chose twelve men, one from each tribe,
and sent them to spy out the land, the people and their strength.  Before they started on their dangerous task he gave instructions to the men, saying: "Go up now into the Negeb; go up into the highlands, and see what the land is like, and whether the people who are living in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many; and what the land is like in which they are living, whether it is good or bad; and what the cities are like in which they are living, whether it is in camps or in strongholds; and what the land is like, whether it is rich or poor, whether there is wood in it or not.  Do you best to get some of the fruit of the land."


   The men were gone almost six weeks.  The people must have gathered in groups and talked a great deal about the country they were going to conquer.  They waited day after day for the spies to return. One evening a shout echoed through the camp:  The spies have returned.  Now we can go into our Promised Land!  The people said one to another. 

    The twelve men came before Moses and Aaron, bearing the fruit they had gathered.  A giant cluster of grapes was carried on a pole between two men, while others brought baskets of figs and pomegranates. 

   Moses waited anxiously for the report of the spies' strange adventure.  "We reached the land to which you sent us," the spies began, "and it surely does flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit."  A murmur of joy must have swept through the crowd as the people heard the words of the spies and saw the fruit of the land. 

   But then the men said: "The people, however, who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the Anakim [ giants] there."

    A wail of terror came from the listening throng.  Men scowled and women wept.  Then Caleb, one of the spies, broke through the crowed to Moses and said in a loud voice: "We ought to go up and size it; for we are quite able to do so."  Joshua, the warrior, joined Caleb in his challenge to go forward.  These two men were not afraid to conquer the enemy.  They knew that God had promised to be with Israel as they marched.

    But the other ten spies cried out: "We are not able to go up against the people; for they are too strong for us."

    All that night there was weeping in the camp.  The drams and hopes of the hundreds of thousands of people had been shattered.  They were ready to rebel against Moses.  They were determined to select a leader to take them back to Egypt.

    The next morning the Israelites continued to grumble against Moses and Aaron.  "Would that we had died in the land of Egypt!" the whole community said to them.  " Or would that we had died in this desert!" Others said: "Let us take our own course and return to Egypt."

    Moses and Aaron mourned because the people had rebelled against the command of God. Once more Caleb and Joshua stood up before the mob and spoke courageously.  They said: "The land through which we passed in spring it out is a very, very fine land.  If the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us into this land, and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey.  Only do not rebel against the Lord; and
do not be afraid of the people of the land; for they will simply be food for us; their protection has left them, while the Lord is with us; do not afraid of them." 

   But the people refused to listen.  In their insane rage they picked up stones and rushed upon the brave
men to kill them.  But the evil, rebellious crowd stopped suddenly.  The stones dropped from their hands! 
Look at the tent of meeting!  Shouted someone.  The glory of the Lord like a flame of fire suddenly appeared over the tent of meeting.  With fear and trembling the people bowed their heads. In silence the crowd melted away as the people returned to their tents.

    Then the Lord said to Moses: " How long is this wicked community going to keep up their grumbling against Me? I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites which they have been muttering against Me. Say to them, ‘ As I live’—it is the oracle of the Lord—‘ I will do to you
just as I have heard you say: your corpus shall fall in
this desert, and none of you that were numbered,
none of you that were counted from twenty years old
and upward, who have grumbled against Me, shall enter the land in which I swore by uplifted hand to settle you, except Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua, the son of Nun.’" 

   What a terrible fate for all of the Israelites who were more tan twenty years of age!  They were to wander in the wilderness and die there because they rebelled against God’s word.  Of the older generation
only Joshua and Caleb would go through to the Promised Land.  But with tem would go the boys and girls, the young people who had not taken part in the rebellion.

    When Moses told the nation what its punishment would be, the people mourned.  The next morning they decided to prove that they had courage after all, for they said; " Here we are, ready to go up to the place of which the Lord spoke; for we have indeed.

    But Moses said: " Do not go up, lest you be struck down in front of your enemies; for the Lord will not be in the midst of you.  "Once more the people refused to obey.  With swords and spears a band of men rushed forward into Canaan; but these soldiers were not prepared to fight, and they did not have God’s blessing with them.  The enemy was hiding in the mountain passes to attack the invaders.  Soon the men of Israel were surprised and driven back in utter defeat.

    It was a sad day when the people left the green meadows and fruit trees of Kadesh to trudge back into the hot desert.  In their ears rang the words they had shouted against Moses and Aaron; "Would that we had died in this desert!" Now they knew that they would never see the Promised Land. 

   They would die in the desert because they had refused to go forward at God’s command.  

Heartfelt thanks to Mr. Merlin L. Neff  and 
 Pacific Press Publishing Association
 
for making this presentation possible.

Amazing Change