Living Your Life In the Place of In Between Going In Circles

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of Numbers, which was written by Moses the servant of the LORD. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters fifteen and sixteen of this Old Testament book. WHEN YE BE COME INTO THE LAND OF YOUR HABITATIONS, WHICH I GIVE UNTO YOU! WHEN YE COME INTO THE LAND WHITHER I BRING YOU! MAKE AN OFFERING BY FIRE UNTO THE LORD! A BURNT OFFERING, OR A SACRIFICE IN PERFORMING A VOW, OR IN A FREEWILL OFFERING, OR IN YOUR SOLEMN FEASTS! TO MAKE A SWEET SAVOUR UNTO THE LORD, OF THE HERD, OR OF THE FLOCK! HE THAT OFFERETH HIS OFFERING UNTO THE LORD BRING! THE GIFT THAT ACCOMPANIES THE OFFERING! ALL THAT ARE BORN OF THE COUNTRY SHALL DO THESE THINGS AFTER THIS MANNER! IN OFFERING AN OFFERING MADE BY FIRE, OF A SWEET SAVOUR UNTO THE LORD! IF A STRANGER SOJOURN WITH YOU, OR WHOSOEVER BE AMONG YOU IN YOUR GENERATIONS! OFFER AN OFFERING MADE BY FIRE, OF A SWEET SAVOUR UNTO THE LORD! WHEN YE EAT OF THE BREAD OF THE LAND! OFFER UP AN HEAVE OFFERING UNTO THE LORD! OF THE FIRST OF YOUR DOUGHT YE SHALL GIVE UNTO THE LORD AN HEAVE OFFERING IN YOUR GENERATIONS! IF YE HAVE ERRED, AND NOT OBSERVED ALL THESE COMMANDMENTS, WHICH THE LORD HATH SPOKEN UNTO MOSES! IF HOUGHT BE COMMITTED BY IGNORANCE WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONGREGATION! THE PRIEST SHALL MAKE ATONEMENT FOR THE CONGREGATION OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, AND IT SHALL BE FORGIVEN THEM! THEY SHALL BRING THEIR OFFERING, A SACRIFICE MADE BY FIRE UNTO THE LORD! AND THEIR SIN OFFERING! IF ANY SOUL SIN THROUGH IGNORANCE, THEN HE SHALL BRING A SHE GOAT OF THE FIRST YEAR FOR A SIN OFFERING! YE SHALL HAVE ONE LAW FOR HIM THAT SINNETH THROUGH IGNORANCE! BUT THE SOUL THAT DOETH OUGHT PRESUMPTUOSLY, WHETHER HE BE BORN IN THE LAND, OR A STRANGER! BECAUSE HE HATH DESPISED THE WORD OF THE LORD, AND HATH BROKEN HIS COMMANDMENT! HIS INIQUITY SHALL BE UPON HIM! GATHERING STICKS ON THE SABBATH! WHEN GARMENTS SPEAK OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD! REMEMBERING THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD! DOING THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD! SEEK NOT AFTER YOUR OWN HEART AND YOUR OWN EYES! REMEMBER AND DO ALL MY COMMANDMENTS! BE YOLY UNTO YOUR GOD!

When you come to these two chapters which are found within the Old Testament book of Numbers you will find quite the transition from the narrative of the twelve spies entering into the land of Canaan and returning with a report concerning the land. As you read the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters you will find that while the twelve spies entered into the land as one man and did indeed spy out the land as one person, they nonetheless returned unto the congregation of the children of Israel divided. It’s actually quite interesting and unique when you think about and consider this reality, for if you journey later into the books of the Kings and Chronicles you will find the nation and kingdom of Israel being divided into two different kingdoms. The northern kingdom of Israel would be comprised and made up of ten tribes, while the southern kingdom of Judah would be comprised and made up of two tribes. The actual breakdown of the division and split of the nation and kingdom of Israel is quite astounding and remarkable when you think about and consider it, for when you read the narrative and account that is written within the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters you will find that the twelve spies which represented the twelve tribes of the congregation of Israel were indeed divided between and among themselves. There were ten of the spies who were in agreement and alignment with each other, while Joshua and Caleb were in alignment together. Although the twelve spies entered into the land as one man, and although the twelve spies saw the same things within the land, and even though they brought back the same fruit from the midst of the land, they were divided among themselves and brought back two different reports. What’s more, is that while they did indeed bring back the same tangible fruit from the land itself, they brought back two other distinctive types of fruit within themselves. There were the ten spies who returned unto the congregation and assembly of the children of Israel and brought back the fruit of fear, while there were Joshua and Caleb who brought back the fruit of faith.

It is quite remarkable and astounding to think about and consider the fact that even though the twelve spies entered into the land as one man, and even though the twelve spies saw the same manifestations and realities in the midst of the land, they came back divided in two with two different reports. We would be incredibly wise to understand and recognize this, for if and when we do we are truly able to confront our own hearts and that which we bring forth when we find ourselves in a similar place. I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think about the tremendous reality of how there were twelve spies which entered into the land of Canaan and did so as one man, and yet when they returned unto the congregation of the children of Israel, they returned divided. I find myself wondering what the journey out of the land of Canaan and unto the congregation of Israel was like for these twelve spies after seeing and witnessing the very same things, and after carrying with them the fruit of the land. Did these twelve spies return back to the congregation and assembly of the children of Israel in silence, or did they walk and talk among themselves about what they had seen and heard? I have to admit that I would absolutely love to have been walking along with these twelve spies as they made their journey back to the congregation of the children of Israel, and listened to and heard what they talked and spoke about with each other. We know from reading chapters thirteen and fourteen that ten of the twelve spies brought back a negative report, while Joshua and Caleb brought back a report that was filled with faith, trust and confidence. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if while these twelve spies were journeying back from the land of Canaan and unto the congregation of Israel they actually disagreed among themselves concerning what they saw, and perhaps even determined what type of report they would bring unto the congregation of Israel. I find myself wondering if the words which each group of spies brought back to the congregation of Israel were first mentioned and first spoken between and among themselves as they journeyed back to the congregation of the children of Israel. I have to admit that I find it to be absolutely erroneous to think that the words and report which they spoke in the hearing of Moses and the congregation of Israel was the first time the words proceeded forth from their lips and from their mouths. I would dare say and suggest that the words which were spoken by these two groups of men were indeed spoken amongst themselves as they journeyed back from the land of Canaan and came and returned unto the congregation of the children of Israel.

DOES FAITH ALWAYS HAVE TO BE THE MINORITY? DOES FEAR ALWAYS HAVE TO BE THE MAJORITY? I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think about and consider the narrative of the twelve spies and how among the twelve spies fear and doubt were the majority and was the greater voice and influence among the twelve spies as a whole. I think about and consider the fact that when the twelve spies stood in the midst of the congregation and assembly of the children of Israel, fear and doubt was the majority which stood out in the midst of the congregation and assembly while faith, trust and confidence was indeed the minority. This actually brings me to a very important question—namely, why fear, why doubt and why confusion seems to be the majority rule. If we are being honest with ourselves, as well as with the LORD, we must admit that more often than not fear is the majority rule within our hearts, within our souls, and within our spirits. If we are honest before the LORD we must admit that fear and doubt is more often than not the greater voice and greater report we gravitate toward, and that it typically drowns out and even silences the voice of faith, trust and confidence. Perhaps the question that we must ask ourselves when thinking about and considering this reality is why—why does faith always seem to be the minority and fear always seems to be the majority within our hearts and spirits? In the narrative and account of the twelve spies which entered into the land of Canaan and returned again unto the children of Israel we clearly see that the voices of fear were the majority in the company and presence of the congregation of the children of Israel, while the voices of faith were undoubtedly the majority. There isn’t even any room or space for disagreement or disparity between these two realities, for more often than not fear is indeed the majority rule within our hearts and souls, while faith is indeed the minority. More often than not we have to admit that fear is the greater voice within our hearts and lives, and tends to win out over the voice(s) of faith, trust and confidence. As much as we would like to think about and consider the fact that faith is usually the majority influence within our hearts and souls—even within and among Christian circles and the house of the LORD.

While I don’t believe this sort of experiment and poll would ever take place in most of our churches and assemblies, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if men and women were separated into the category of fear versus faith. If many of our churches were like the twelve spies which entered into the land of Canaan, I can’t help but wonder what would be the majority and what would be the minority. In our churches today, would fear the voice of the majority, or would faith be the voice of the majority? As we read and consider the narrative and account of the twelve spies which entered into the land of Canaan we must recognize and understand that the twelve spies returned unto Moses and the congregation they did so divided between and among themselves. In all reality I can’t help but think about and consider the twelve disciples who walked with and followed Jesus the Christ, and how upon walking with and following Him there were times when they argued and disputed among themselves who among them was the greatest. I find myself wondering if when the twelve spies returned back to Moses and the congregation of the children of Israel they did so—not only divided, but also perhaps disputing between and among themselves. Is it possible that the twelve spies reasoned and disputed among themselves—not only as to what they witnessed and saw in the land of Canaan, but also what type of report they would bring back unto the congregation of the children of Israel. Did the ten spies which brought back the negative report to Moses and the congregation of the children of Israel win out over and above Joshua and Caleb when they were making their way back unto the congregation of the children of Israel? Is it possible that the twelve spies which returned and came back to the congregation of the children of Israel were dominated by the ten who allowed their hearts to be captivated and gripped by fear? The more I think about the twelve spies which returned unto the congregation of the children of Israel the more I can’t help but think about the twelve disciples who disputed and disagreed among themselves concerning who among them was the greatest, as well as the nation of Israel itself which during the days of Solomon’s son Rehoboam was divided into two—the northern kingdom of Israel which was comprised of ten tribes, and the southern kingdom of Judah which was comprised of ten tribes. When the twelve spies returned from the land of Canaan and came unto Moses and the congregation of the children of Israel there was a clear division that was found among them as is evidence from the different reports that were brought unto the people of God.

I think about and consider the different reports which the twelve spies brought back unto the congregation of the children of Israel and I can’t help but wonder whether or not the twelve spies disputed and perhaps even argued among themselves on the way back to the congregation of the children of Israel concerning what they saw while journeying throughout the land of Canaan. I would absolutely love to know exactly where in the land of Canaan the twelve spies journeyed—particularly and especially considering they were in the land of Canaan for a total of forty days. What’s more, is I find myself thinking about how long it actually took them to make their way back to the congregation of the children of Israel. What was it like for the twelve spies as they journeyed back to the congregation of the children of Israel, as they undoubtedly would have quite possibly disagreed among themselves concerning what they saw while in the land of Canaan. WHEN FEAR AND FAITH REASON WITH EACH OTHER! WHEN FEAR AND FAITH DISPUTE WITH EACH OTHER! WHEN FEAR AND FAITH ARGUE WITH EACH OTHER! WHEN FEAR AND FAITH CONTEND WITH EACH OTHER! I sit here this morning and find myself thinking about the journey the twelve spies made back to the congregation of the children of Israel and how it is very possible that they disputed among themselves concerning that which they saw within the land of Canaan, and even what report they would bring back to the children of Israel. It is quite intriguing and captivating to think about and consider the fact that when you consider the two different reports which the twelve spies brought back to the children of Israel it is very likely that on the way back there was a dispute that arose up between fear and faith, as they would essentially compete within the hearts of these twelve men to see what would be greater. Of course we know and understand that fear would ultimately end up ruling within the hearts of ten of the spies, for ten of the twelve spies would return back to the congregation of the children of Israel with a negative report concerning the size of the inhabitants of the land, and even the fortified walls and defenses within the land. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the report of fear would ultimately win out within the hearts of the congregation of Israel, and I am completely and utterly convinced that this report would have won out among the twelve spies as they made their journey back to the congregation. I truly believe that the journey back to the congregation of the children of Israel was one that centered up the dispute between fear and faith, between doubt and trust, between hope and despair.

The more you read and the more you consider the words which are found within chapters thirteen and fourteen the more you will be directly confronted with the tremendous issue of the dispute which takes place between fear and faith, and how more often than not faith is the minority voice and the minority vote while fear seems to be the majority. Permit me to pause for a moment and ask you how you proceed with your own decisions and choices. What I mean by that is do you allow yourself to listen to the voice of fear within your life, or do you allow yourself to listen to the voice of faith? Do you allow yourself to listen to the voice of doubt, or do you allow yourself to listen to the voice of trust? As you make your decisions on a regular basis—do you allow yourself to be governed by the voice of fear, or the voice of faith? What’s more, is which seems to be the majority influence within your life, and which seems to be the minority influence? While these chapters center upon going up into the land, engaging the inhabitants of the land, and taking possession of it, it might not be the same for you. The issue and concerns within your life might now have anything to do with land, or taking possession of land, or wielding a physical sword against enemies and adversaries. Examine your life—I mean truly examine your life right now—and ask yourself what is before and in front of you that provides the context for the dispute between fear and faith. Are there areas within your life right now that allow the dispute between fear and faith to arise, and cause you to enter into a place of confusion and question? If we are truly honest with ourselves—even with the LORD our God—do we allow our lives to be governed more by fear, or faith? Do we make our decisions based on doubt, or do we allow our decisions to be based on trust? The interesting thing about the narrative of the twelve spies returning unto the land is that the division which occurred between the reports brought unto the people thrust the congregation—not only into confusion, but also into a place of fear, doubt, and even complaining. If there is one thing this narrative points to and reveals it’s that the dispute between fear and faith—if left unchecked and not dealt with—can in fact lead to and produce doubt, confusion and complaining within our hearts and lives. It’s necessary that we recognize and understand this particular reality, for it undoubtedly sets the stage for chapters fifteen and sixteen—particularly how the fifteenth chapter opens. I am absolutely convinced that in order for us to understand the words and language that is found within these chapters, it is necessary for us to understand the full weight and significance of what exactly the LORD spoke unto Moses in the following two chapters.

FEAR VERSUS FAITH! TEMPTATION AND TRANSGRESSION! CONFUSION AND COMPLAINING! WHO WERE THE WORDS WHICH WERE SPOKEN IN THE FIFTEENTH CHAPTER OF THE BOOK OF NUMBERS SPOKEN TO? REVELATION FOR ANOTHER GENERATION! IMAGINE BEING A PART OF THE GENERATION THAT WAS GOING TO PERISH IN THE WILDERNESS AND HEARING THE LORD SPEAKING CONCERNING THE LAND YOU FORFEITED! IMAGINE HEARING THE LORD SPEAKING CONCERNING THE PROMISE YOU FORFEITED! IMAGINE HEARING THE LORD SPEAKING CONCERNING THE POSSESSION YOU FORFEITED! I can’t help but continue to be utterly and completely gripped and captivated by what we find in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapter, for if you read these chapters you will find that they are full of rebellion against the authority of the living God, complaining against the Lord and against His anointed, transgressing the commandment by attempting something without His presence and power and overstepping your hounds and your station. What you will find between chapters twelve and sixteen is a tremendous sequence of events that took place within and among the congregation of the children of Israel beginning with Aaron and Miriam who spoke against Moses and the authority which the living God had given him. The rebellion of Aaron and Miriam against the authority of Moses—and ultimately the authority of the living God—was followed by the fruit of fear and a report of terror that was spoken by ten of the spies who had entered into the land of Canaan and had spoken their word of fear before and in the midst of the whole congregation. It was because of their report that the congregation of their children of Israel rebelled against the Lord and tempted Him by complaining against Moses, and even thinking they could return unto the land of Egypt. It’s interesting and worth noting that even after the LORD spoke through Moses unto the congregation of the children of Israel and declared unto them that all those twenty years of age and up would perish in the wilderness, they still transgressed against the command of the Lord by thinking they could go up against their enemies and take possession of the land without the person, the presence and glory of the living God. What’s more, is that as you continue reading these chapters you will come to the sixteenth chapter where you find the narrative of Korah, Dathan, Abiram and On who rise up against Moses and against the authority of the living God. It’s interesting to note that Korah was of the sons of Kohath which were given charge over the sanctuary and over the instruments of the Tabernacle. Dathan, Abiram and On were sons of Reuben, and night very well have been numbered among those who were able to go forth to war. What’s more is that as you read the narrative of Korah’s rebellion you will find that two hundred and fifty princes and rulers among the congregation of Israel sided with Korah and those with him and would rebel against the commandment of the living God and against the authority of Moses.

WAITING FOR A GENERATION TO PERISH IN THE WILDERNESS! WAITING FOR A GENERATION TO PERISH AND FORTY YEARS TO PASS! As I continue reading within these chapters and consider the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter, I can’t help but think of them in direct connection to the words which the LORD God spoke unto the Hebrews at the end of the previous chapter. You will recall that the entire congregation of the children of Israel murmured, grumbled and complained against Moses and against the living God for bringing them into the wilderness only to strike them dead. In fact, the congregation of the children were so bold and were so brazen before and against the living God that they actually thought they could raise up from among them a captain who would lead them back into the land of Egypt. It’s actually truly astonishing when you think about this, for when you think about the fear that was found within the hearts of the entire congregation you will find and discover how that fear not only led them into the place of complaining and lifting up their voices against the living God, but that fear also led them back into bondage within their minds. If we are being honest when reading the narrative of these chapters we must acknowledge and admit that although the congregation of the children of Israel was delivered and set free from their bondage and oppression in the land of Egypt they were still in bondage to Egypt within their hearts and minds. One of the most telling truths concerning fear when it grips our heart is that if it’s is left unchecked and is not dealt with it can indeed and can in fact lead us into bondage. What’s more, is that I would even dare say that fear always does lead us into bondage and holds us captive if it is left unchecked and if we don’t deal with it within our hearts and minds. It is absolutely necessary that we think about and consider this reality, for it has the tremendous power to dramatically transform the way we think and the way we act within our lives. Although the children of Israel did not and would not actually return unto the land of Egypt they would still enter into and go into bondage in their minds, for in and with their minds they thought they could return unto the land of Egypt and that they would be better off in slavery, in bondage and in oppression. Even though the congregation of the children of Israel would not physically go into the land of Egypt I would dare say they went into and unto the land of Egypt with their hearts and minds. When we think and speak about the reality of the children of Israel in the wilderness we must recognize and understand that even though they did and would not journey back to the land of Egypt they would still be in bondage to the land of Egypt within their hearts and minds.

When thinking about and considering the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers it is absolutely imperative that we think about and consider the tragic results and outcomes of the fear that was found within the hearts of the people. Initially their fear would manifest itself through complaining against Moses, complaining against the living God, and complaining against the promises of God. This fear would continue to metastasize and grow until it brought them into a place of bondage within their hearts and minds as they thought they could appoint for and unto themselves a captain who would lead them back into the land of Egypt. This fear would ultimately not only lead to the death of those ten spies who brought back the negative report unto the congregation of the children of Israel, but it would also prevent and keep the congregation of the children of Israel out of the land of inheritance and blessing. What is so interesting and intriguing to think about and consider as you read these words is that not only would and not only could the congregation not return unto the land of Egypt, but neither could they go forward and enter into the land of Canaan. Pause for a moment and think about that reality, for the children of Israel ages twenty years and Howard would spend the next forty years wandering in the wilderness until the last of that generation perished in the wilderness. STUCK IN THE IN BETWEEN! I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that the congregation of the children of Israel ages twenty years and up could not go back and could not return unto the land of Egypt, nor could they move forward and go in and unto the land of Canaan. Having been delivered from the slavery, bondage and oppression from the land of Egypt, having seen and witnessed the power of God at the Red Sea, and afternoon witnessing and beholding the presence and glory of the living God at Sinai, the generation which emerged and came out of the land of Egypt would be forced to spend their days living in the place of in between. The congregation of the children of Israel ages twenty years old and up would spend forty years living between bondage and promise and could neither enter into the place e of promise, nor could they return unto the place of bondage.

LIVING BETWEEN BONDAGE AND PROMISE! LIVING BETWEEN OPPRESSION AND POSSESSION! LIVING BETWEEN SLAVEY AND INHERITANCE! As I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the tremendous narrative of the children of Israel in the wilderness I can’t help but be confronted with just how deadly and dangerous fear truly is within our hearts—particularly and especially when you consider it in light of refusing to lay hold of the promises of God—for the congregation of the children of Israel would find themselves stuck in the place between promise and bondage. How incredibly interesting it is to think about and consider the fact that the congregation of the children of Israel could not go forward and they could not go back but could only go in circles in the wilderness for forty years. We must readily acknowledge and realize that the congregation of their children of Israel as a whole would remain within the wilderness for forty years—not only those who would not enter into the land of Canaan, but also those who would indeed and would in fact enter into the inheritance. It is absolutely tragic to think about and consider the fact that for forty years the congregation of the children of Israel found themselves—not only being stuck in a place of in between, but also wandering in a place of in between. Perhaps this describes you in your current situation right now. Do you feel as though you are stuck in a place of in between as you feel as though you can’t go forward, nor can you go back and return to where you came from? Do you feel as though you’re living your life in circles as you’re unable to go back in the opposite direction and are unable to go forward within your life? LIVING YOUR LIFE IN CIRCLES! The absolutely tremendous reality that is found within these chapters concerning the congregation of the children of Israel is that it is a tale of two generations. There was the generation that could not return unto the land of Egypt, would wander in the wilderness and would also be unable to enter into the land of Canaan. Conversely there was a second generation in the midst of the wilderness which also could not return unto the land of Egypt, would be forced to wander in the wilderness for forty years, and yet would enter into the land of Canaan. Please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this absolutely incredible and challenging reality, for it must needs directly impact how we live our lives in this generation.

I can’t help but be absolutely and completely gripped with and by the reality that for forty years there were two generations which existed within the congregation of the children of Israel—there was the generation which could neither return to the land of Egypt, nor enter into the land of Canaan, and there was the generation which could not return unto the land of Egypt, yet would indeed and would in fact enter into the land of Canaan. What makes this more intriguing is when you think about the fact that birth generations were forced to wander in the wilderness while one would ultimately escape the wilderness and would enter into the land of Canaan according to the word and promise of the living God. I can’t help but think about and consider the absolutely tremendous reality that one of the greatest tragedies of fear within our hearts and lives is that it has the ability to force us to live in a place of in between—a place where we aren’t necessarily regressing and digressing, but neither are we progressing and moving forward. The congregation of the children of Israel—both generations which were in the midst of it—made absolutely no progress for a period of forty years as they would wander in circles in the midst of the wilderness while one generation was essentially waiting for the other generation to die and perish in the wilderness. This reality of being unable to return unto the land of Egypt, as well as being unable to enter into the land of Canaan is quite telling—particularly and especially when you think about the fact that for forty years an entire generation would be forced to live and move in the place of wandering. What’s more, is that for forty years there was a generation in the midst of the congregation of the children of Israel which would and could not return unto the land of Egypt, for the Lord would not allow them to return once more unto the land, as well as would and could not enter into the land of Canaan. At the risk of getting ahead of myself it’s worth noting that not even Aaron, not even Miriam, and not even Moses himself would enter into the land of Canaan as all would perish during that period of forty years. Imagine what it was like for Moses as he led the congregation of the children of Israel out of their slavery, bondage and oppression in the land of Egypt, would lead them through the waters of the Red Sea and watch as their enemies were scattered and destroyed, and would even lead the congregation of the children of Israel unto the mountain of God in the wilderness where he would not only receive the Law of God, but would also receive the pattern of the Tabernacle which would be the place of the name, presence and glory of God in the midst of His people, and yet after all that would not enter into the land of Canaan himself. It’s quite a unique and telling story to think about and consider the fact that an entire generation would be forced to remain and abide within the wilderness without being able to return unto the land of Egypt from whence they came, and even unable to enter into the land of Canaan where they were headed.

UNABLE TO RETURN WHERE YOU CAME FROM, UNABLE TO ENTER INTO WHERE YOU WERE HEADED! For an entire period of forty years the congregation of the children of Israel would be forced to wander in the wilderness because of the fear that was allowed to seize and grip the hearts of those who not only listened to, but also believed the report which the ten spies had brought back from the land of Canaan. Please don’t miss and lose the significance of this reality, for it directly confronts the dangerous manifestation of fear within our hearts and lives, as fear not only brings us into the place of complaining before and in the presence of the LORD, and not only brings us into bondage, but fear also brings us into the place of stagnation. As you read these words you will quickly and undoubtedly notice that fear did indeed bring the congregation of the children of Israel into a place where they murmured and complained against the living God, but it also brought them into the place of bondage where they thought they could return unto the land of Egypt. How utterly and completely shocked they must have been to learn and discover that not only could they not return unto the land of Egypt, and not only could they not enter into the land of Canaan, but their bodies would fall in the wilderness over a period of forty years. Instead of the living God killing off an entire nation of people in the midst of the wilderness He chose to kill off and destroy a generation of the congregation of Israel ages twenty and up while preserving that generation which was nineteen years and younger. The Lord did in fact relent of the thought within His heart to utterly and completely destroy the congregation of the children of Israel as a whole, and instead would destroy all those who were twenty years of age and older. It’s almost as if the LORD met Moses in the middle, for while He would not let that generation which came forth from the land of Egypt enter into the land of Canaan, and while He would not utterly destroy the congregation as a whole, He instead decided to destroy an entire generation in the midst of the wilderness. Pause for a moment and think about this, for if you were twenty years old at this time you would live for another forty years in the wilderness before you would ultimately die and perish. Consider this in light of the census that was taken in the opening chapters of the Old Testament book of Numbers as those twenty years of age and older outside of the tribe of Levi were numbered among those who could go out to war—a number which would total more than six hundred thousand. What’s more, is that all those Levites and priests who were between the ages of twenty and fifty would also perish in the wilderness as their children would enter into the land of Canaan instead. Consider the fact that over a period of forty years the living God not only destroyed men of war in the midst of the wilderness, but the LORD also destroyed Levites and priests who would engage themselves in the work of the ministry of the sanctuary. Over a period of forty years the living God would destroy both warrior, priest and Levite alike, as an entire generation would fall and perish in the midst of the wilderness.

These words have absolutely greater significance and meaning when you come to the fifteenth chapter, for in the second verse of the chapter you find the LORD speaking unto Moses and instructing him to declare unto the congregation of the children of Israel concerning when they be come into the land of their habitations, which He would give unto them. If you journey down into the eighteenth verse of this same chapter you will find the living God again speaking unto the congregation of the children of Israel concerning when they be come into the land whither He would bring them. Pause for a moment and think about this on two different fronts—first, along the lines of the reality that despite what took place in the previous chapter, the living God would still bring His people into the land of Canaan which He swore on oath to their ancestors and forefathers. Despite the great temptation and transgression in the midst of the wilderness, the living God would bring a second generation into the midst of the land of Canaan while an entire previous generation would fall and perish in the wilderness. On the one hand we find the living God speaking these words unto that generation which would indeed and would in fact enter into the land of Canaan, for the LORD would still bring a generation into the land of Canaan. On the other hand, however, think about what these words would have meant for that generation which knew they would fall and perish in the wilderness, for they would hear the words which the living God would speak unto their sons and their daughters. Imagine what it was like being of that first generation which was told that they would not enter into the land of Canaan, and hearing the words which were spoken concerning the land into which they would enter. LISTENING TO WORDS OF PROMISE WHILE KNOWING IT DOESN’T APPLY TO YOU! LISTENING TO WORDS OF HOPE KNOWING THEY DON’T APPLY TO YOU! Pause for a moment and think about and consider the fact that there would be an entire generation which would enter into the wilderness originally expecting to enter into the land of Canaan, and yet after a series of ten temptations in the wilderness, and finally refusing to enter into and take possession of the land of promise they would fall and perish in the wilderness. I can’t help but wonder what it was like for that generation which would fall and perish in the wilderness as they would still hear the living God speak unto their sons and daughters concerning the promises of God. Were there fathers and mothers who spoke unto their children and instructed them not to make the same mistakes they did? Were there fathers and mothers who truly repented before the LORD of their part within the temptations, and when speaking unto their children instructed them according to the law of Moses and to refrain from making the same mistakes and walking in the same steps they themselves did? I can’t help but think to myself that there were those parents who took their children unto themselves and did in fact instruct them in the ways of the LORD, spoke of their faults and mistakes, and warned them against making the same mistakes they themselves made.

THERE’S A WHOLE LOT OF DEATH TAKING PLACE! As you read the words which are found in the fourteenth and sixteenth chapters you will find that there was indeed a lot of death which took place in such a short period of time, as those ten men which Moses sent to search the land, and who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against Moses, by bringing a slander upon the land, died by plague before the LORD. In the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers you will find those ten men who brought an evil report unto the congregation of the children of Israel, and those who caused the congregation of the children of Israel to murmur agains Moses and the LORD died by plague before the Lord. When you come to the sixteenth chapter you will find that there was a whole other group of individuals whom the LORD destroyed and whom the LORD killed in the midst of the wilderness because of their rebellion against authority. Those ten men whom the LORD sent into the land to spy it out, and yet returned and brought back an evil report unto the congregation of the children of Israel and caused them to complain against the LORD would perish by plague before the LORD, while Korah, Datham, Abiram, On and two-hundred and fifty others would die and perish in the midst of the congregation of the children of Israel because of their rebellion against the living God. If you come to the sixteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers you will find that Korah, the son of Ishtar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Elian, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men and rose up before Moses and would speak against them. In the sixteenth chapter of this Old Testament book of Moses we find a tremendous account of a rebellion which would be led against Moses and against the living God—and not merely against Moses, but against the authority which the living God had placed upon him. In all reality, what we find in the sixteenth chapter is quite similar in nature to that which we find in the twelfth chapter when Miriam spoke against her brother Moses and against the authority which the living God had placed upon himIn fact, if you begin reading with and from the first two verses of the twelfth chapter you will find the following words written by Moses: “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath He not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it” (Numbers 12:1-2). In the sixteenth chapter of this Old Testament book of Numbers your ill find the following words which were written by Moses beginning with the third verse of the chapter: “Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face: And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him” (Numbers 16:3-5).

It’s quite astounding and remarkable to read and consider these words which are found within the twelfth and sixteenth chapters of the Old Testament book of Numbers, for when you read the words which are contained within these chapters you will not only find Miriam speaking against Moses and asking whether or not the LORD had not also spoken through her and their brother Aaron, but you will also find Korah—who was a son of Levi and given charge in the sanctuary and Tabernacle of the living God—spearheading and leading a rebellion against the authority of Moses. What’s more, is that not only did Korah and all those who were with him lead a rebellion against the authority of Moses, but they also demanded that they be given equal honor and place among Moses in the midst of the congregation of the children of Israel. I happen to find the sixteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers to be incredibly challenging, for it comes directly on the heels of the LORD striking Miriam with leprosy for speaking against him and against the authority the LORD had given him, on the heels of the LORD putting the death those ten men which entered into the land of Canaan and returned bearing an evil report of slander against the land and causing the congregation of Israel to murmur against the LORD, and even on the heels of the congregation of Israel ages twenty and older being told their bodies and carcasses would fall in the wilderness, for they would not enter into the land of Canaan. Between chapters twelve and sixteen—not only do we find leprosy and plague breaking out in the camp, and not only do we find an entire generation being restricted from entering into the land of Canaan, but we Willa Los find Korah, Dathan and Abiram—together with On and those two-hundred and fifty who were with them, along with their wives and children—going down alive into the pit as the earth opened up its mouth and swallowed them whole. What’s more, is that you will even find a plague breaking out in the midst of the camp as the congregation of the children of Israel murmured and complained against Moses and how he had killed the people of the LORD in the midst of the wilderness. COMPLAINING AND REBELLION! TEMPTATION AND TRANSGRESSION! What we must realize and recognize when reading the words which are found within these chapters is that the leader of the rebellion against Moses in the sixteenth chapter was a son of Kohath who was also a son of Levi and who was given a charge over the sanctuary of the living God. We dare not, must not and cannot miss this single point, for the rebellion which took place in the midst of the camp not only touched the Levites, but it also touched the tribe of Reuben as well, as sons of Reuben were also involved in the rebellion. What’s more, is that there were two-hundred and fifty princes and rulers within the congregation of the children of Israel who also took part in and joined the rebellion which was led by Korah in the midst of the wilderness.

As I bring this writing to a close I feel the great need to highlight that which took place within these chapters—namely the temptation and transgression of the congregation of the children of Israel as they chose to believe the evil report of the ten spies and murmured and complained against the living God. Within these chapters we find slander and rebellion against Moses and the authority that was placed upon him, as his own sister would speak against him, and against the LORD. What’s more, is we will find a son of Levi, two-hundred and fifty princes within and among the congregation of the children of Israel joining in the rebellion of Korah against Moses and against the LORD as they would speak against and slander him before all the congregation of the children of Israel. What’s more, is that we find the people once more sinning against the LORD by speaking against Moses and accusing him of killing more than two-hundred and fifty of their own people. It’s actually intriguing to think about and consider the fact that within this passage we find more than fourteen thousand souls being destroyed among the congregation of the children of Israel because of their speaking against Moses, and against the authority of the living God which was placed upon Moses. In all reality, that which we find within these chapters is not only a tremendous picture concerning fear and how fear—if it is left unchecked within our hearts and is not dealt with—can not only lead us into confusion and complaining, but can also cause us to remain and abide in that place of in between as we can neither return unto the land of Egypt, nor can move forward and enter into the land of Canaan. What’s more, is that there were more than two-hundred and fifty individuals together with their wives and children who were taken alive into the pit because of their rebellion against the living God in the midst of the wilderness. Oh that we would truly understand and recognize the absolutely incredible dangers which are found within the chapters, and how seriously the LORD treats and handles rebellion against His authority and against His commands. Oh that we would read these words and truly and carefully examine our hearts and the condition of them before and in the sight of the living God that we might indeed be pure and holy in the sight of the living God in the midst of this generation.

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