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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 1:34-46 (ESV)

Posted on January 28, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 1:34-46 (ESV) - “And the Lord heard your words and was angered, and he swore, ‘Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the Lord!’ Even with me the Lord was angry on your account and said, ‘You also shall not go in there. Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. But as for you, turn, and journey into the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea.’

“Then you answered me, ‘We have sinned against the Lord. We ourselves will go up and fight, just as the Lord our God commanded us.’ And every one of you fastened on his weapons of war and thought it easy to go up into the hill country. And the Lord said to me, ‘Say to them, Do not go up or fight, for I am not in your midst, lest you be defeated before your enemies.’ So I spoke to you, and you would not listen; but you rebelled against the command of the Lord and presumptuously went up into the hill country. Then the Amorites who lived in that hill country came out against you and chased you as bees do and beat you down in Seir as far as Hormah. And you returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord did not listen to your voice or give ear to you. So you remained at Kadesh many days, the days that you remained there.

Question to consider: How does the people’s strivings to earn the land compare with our own attempts at earning righteousness?

In the New Testament book of Acts, there are instances in which Peter, Stephen, and Paul all recount Israel’s history back to them with a particular purpose in mind. In this case, Moses approaches the history already written in the book of Numbers with the perspective of Israel’s rebellion against God. Moses recounted it to the next generation who was about to inherit the land so that they could renew their own commitment to the covenant God made with Moses and hopefully not fall into the same sin of rebellion displayed by their forefathers.

We emphasize the teaching of history today for the same reason— that we may learn from the mistakes of the past to avoid repeating them. I don’t know that this intention has ever worked. If we do learn anything from the past, it would seem to be all the wrong things because we generally end up in a subsequently worse state with each new attempt.

Israel had refused to go into the land when the Lord promised to deliver the Amorites to them because they did not trust God to do so. Instead of repenting of their faithlessness, they turned on God and accused Him of hate by bringing them out into the wilderness only to die by the hand of the Amorites. As is often the case, when we continue to rebel against God, He gives us over to our desires. They believed God called them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness, and so God gave in and said He’d still give the land to their children along with faithful Caleb and Joshua, but they may as well start heading back to the Red Sea because they would never enter into the land.

The moment God said they would not enter the land, they recognized their sin, but instead of submitting to the will of God, they still hardened their hearts and tried to take the land in their own strength which proved to be an epic failure.

The author of Hebrews in the New Testament recalled this account of Moses when he wrote about entering into Christ to rest from our striving to obtain righteousness by way of the Law, “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it… Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience,” (Hebrews 4:1,11) The land that was flowing with milk and honey which God offered as a gift could not be obtained by the people on their own.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for offering us righteousness through faith in Christ. Help us to see our need for it today and to stop striving to earn Your favor on our own. Please take our hearts of stone and give us a heart of flesh in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.