Slow to Obey, Quick to Disobey
Numbers 14:40-41 (ESV) – And they rose early in the morning and went up to the heights of the hill country, saying, “Here we are. We will go up to the place that the Lord has promised, for we have sinned.” But Moses said, “Why now are you transgressing the command of the Lord, when that will not succeed?”
I remember once being told to clean my room as a kid, and I delayed doing it. When my dad came and saw my room, he told me that we weren’t going to play putt-putt since I didn’t clean my room. I jumped up to rectify the situation, but it was too late. My dad wasn’t taking me. Why? Because he’s a bad dad? Nope. It was because I didn’t obey when I was told. My obedience was delayed, and only triggered by the threat of losing something. I never forgot that lesson.
We see something eerily similar in our passage today. It is a sad story. We see in Numbers 14 that God decrees that those who grumbled about the promised land and the inhabitants in it were barred from ever entering the land. Their punishment was to never step foot on the promised land. Moses delivered this news to the people, and only then did they decide they would go and try to take the land. We read in our passage today, “And they rose early in the morning and went up to the heights of the hill country, saying, ‘Here we are. We will go up to the place that the Lord has promised, for we have sinned.’ But Moses said, ‘Why now are you transgressing the command of the Lord, when that will not succeed?’”
The people decide to attempt taking the land God had promised. But the LORD already determined they would not step foot there. Moses tries to warn them that it is too late. They’ve already blown it. Their delayed obedience is of no value to them now. But they don’t listen to Moses. They went anyway and were struck down. In their foolishness many died because they did what they wanted instead of what the LORD had spoken.
Notice their actions. They delayed obedience when the LORD told them to take the land. And when the land was prohibited to them, and Moses told them they couldn’t go, they quickly sprang to action anyway. In both cases, they transgressed the LORD’s command. This is such a picture of the human heart.
Strive today to obey God immediately. Don’t delay obedience, or quickly spring to action against His commands. This brings destruction to our lives.
Obey Him and live.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why do the Israelites initially delay their obedience?
- What is their second mistake in this story?
- How does this text speak to our hearts as sinners?
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