The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36

Numbers 14

Num 14:1

Vv 1-4: The people reject Moses and desire to return to Egypt. This was perhaps the bitterest hour in Moses' life. They had proposed to elect a captain before, but it was when he was away. This proposal was made before his face. The people whom he had loved with passionate devotion, whose very existence was due to his intercession on the Mount when they were on the point of being destroyed, had forgotten all he had done. They actually proposed to supersede his authority and -- if he would not go with them under their new-made captain -- they were going to leave him to his own devices there. He fell on his face before all the assembly of the congregation (v 5). What unutterable agony stormed in his heart! Not only that he should be thus set aside, but that the anger of God should be thus provoked by the people He loved!

As he lay there, did he not feel a great sorrow as the vision of going into the land and the great prospects of his hopes started to crumble? What joyful anticipation he must have had of going into the land to which God had promised... and then suddenly the people revolt and God says, "Turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea" (Num 14:25).

Num 14:2

13 murmurings: Exo 5:21; 14:10; 15:24; 16:2; 17:2; 32:1; Num 11:1,4; 12:2; 14:2; 16:3; 20:2; 21:5. Cp Joh 6:41-43. Those who murmur without cause are soon given cause to murmur.

IF ONLY WE HAD DIED IN EGYPT!: Spiritually, they did "die in Egypt", for they never completely left. Physically, they died in the wilderness, short of the Promised Land: vv 28,29.

Num 14:4

AND GO BACK TO EGYPT: Egypt was the symbol of sin and bondage (Joh 8:34; Rom 6:16; Tit 3:3; 2Pe 2:19). It had held their fathers in bondage, until death, and now although this generation was "free" of Egypt -- physically -- it still held their souls, their minds, and their hearts in bondage; and they would never really escape!

Num 14:11

Vv 10,11: "One bold push forward, and their feet would tread on their inheritance. But, as is so often the case, courage oozed out at the decisive moment, and cowardice, disguised as prudence, called for 'further information,' that cuckoo-cry of the fainthearted" (JSB 1:179).

Num 14:12

BUT I WILL MAKE YOU INTO A NATION GREATER AND STRONGER THAN THEY: Christ the antitypical Moses: Through Christ God did disinherit Israel, after which He made of Christ a great nation!

Num 14:16

'THE LORD WAS NOT ABLE TO BRING THESE PEOPLE INTO THE LAND HE PROMISED THEM ON OATH; SO HE SLAUGHTERED THEM IN THE DESERT': There are few grander passages in the Bible than that in which Moses puts away the testing suggestion as impossible. Moses pleaded with God that He would pardon the people according to the greatness of His mercy as He had been doing from the first of leaving Egypt until now. In other words, Moses would not have the rest he longed for at the sacrifice of a ray of God's glory or of the people with whom his life was linked, though they had sadly plagued and disowned him.

And so he turned away from the open gate into this Paradise, and again chose rather to suffer with the people in their afflictions than to enjoy the pleasures of Canaan alone. Let us ponder the lesson: when a longed-for delight is within our reach, yet it will be more for the glory of God and the good of others to turn from it, let us ask grace to take the rugged path of the wilderness -- even though it may mean a lonely life for forty years and a death before the promised land may be reached.

Num 14:21

EARTH: "Eretz": sw "land" in vv 23, 24.

Num 14:23

NOT ONE OF THEM WILL EVER SEE THE LAND: Only 2 of 40 years have passed. The other 38 years would have been unnecessary if Israel had had faith!

Num 14:29

EVERY ONE OF YOU... WHO WAS COUNTED IN THE CENSUS: But the Levites were exempted from this judgment, because they were not numbered in the census (Num 26:62).

Num 14:43

THE AMALEKITES: See Lesson, Amalek.

Num 14:44

PRESUMPTION: They desired to have the promises by their own effort. But God's presence was not with them.

Num 14:45

See Lesson, Large numbers in the OT.
Previous Index Next