“Please, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed. For you said, ‘The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.’ In keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.”
Then the Lord said, “I will pardon them as you have requested. But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the Lord’s glory, not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have all seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested me by refusing to listen to my voice. They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will ever see it. But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.”
God wasn’t exaggerating when he said that the Israelites had already failed “again and again” to trust and obey him. Here is a list of their failures of faith: (1) lacking trust at the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:11-12); (2) complaining over bitter water at Marah (Exodus 15:24); (3) complaining in the Desert of Sin (Exodus 16:3); (4) collecting more than the daily quota of manna (Exodus 16:20); (5) collecting manna on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:27-29); (6) complaining over lack of water at Rephidim (Exodus 17:2-3); (7) worshipping a golden calf (Exodus 32:7-10); (8) complaining at Taberah (Numbers 11:1-2); (9) more complaining over the lack of delicious food (Numbers 11:4); (10) failing to trust God and enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14:1-4).
The people of Israel had a clearer view of God than any people before them, for they had both his laws and his physical presence. Their refusal to follow God after witnessing his miraculous deeds and listening to his words made the judgment against them more severe. As Jesus said: “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return” (Luke 12:48). Like the Hebrews, we have a greater responsibility to trust and obey God because we have the whole Bible and because we know God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
How has God demonstrated his love, patience, forgiveness, and mercy to you? How has he shown you that he is faithful and trustworthy? Your faithfulness each day is a new opportunity to see God provide for you.