Numbers 14

1 The peoples' fear quickly escalated into utter hopelessness. They completely forgot how God had saved them from the Egyptians and destroyed the Egyptian army without their help. When they had asked God to help, and when they had obeyed Him, He had given them victory. Here they neither called on God nor remembered His promises.
2 The Israelites should have called on God to help them, which He would have done. Instead, they complained to Moses and Aaron, who were neither the cause of the problem, nor the solution. The people worked themselves up into hysteria. They felt their situation was so bad that they would have rather died as slaves or in the wilderness than have to fight these formidable enemies. Considering what God had already brought them through, their response to this situation did not seem rational. Ironically, they would die in the wilderness, as they requested here.
3 This is simply irrational thought. God had done mighty miracles to rescue these people from the hardships of slavery. He would not then lead His chosen people into certain doom.
4 Their fear was so intense, that they decided to leave God's leadership through Moses and elect their own leader who would return them to slavery in Egypt.
5 Moses and Aaron were at a loss how to handle the peoples' fear. The only thing they could do was go to God in prayer.
6 Caleb and Joshua were exceedingly distressed at the peoples' rebellion.
7 Joseph and Caleb tried to remind the Israelites that they were on the brink of receiving the good land that God promised them. We must remember that no problem can stand in the way of God's promises.
8 God delights in all who believe in Him and obey Him. He will gladly give them everything He has promised them. Those who are disobedient, make themselves ineligible to receive His promises.
9 When God is against an enemy, any defense they have is worthless.
10 Inexplicably, this enraged the crowd even more. They did not want anyone to suggest that their fears were rebellion against God. Perhaps they felt that Joshua's and Caleb's faith was unrealistic or too simplistic. Perhaps they felt that the only way to lead themselves was to kill God's appointed leaders.
11 God was still present in the pillar of cloud and fire, but now He made His presence visible as the shekinah glory, His most awesome appearance.

Sometimes, reasoning and majority opinions can be correct. However, if our conclusions are opposed to the commands of God, they are wrong. We must be obedient to God not matter how "strange" or unpopular it might seem.

12 In the midst of this stressful situation, God tests Moses by asking if He should destroy the Israelites and make Moses a nation in their place.
13 Despite his distress, Moses knew that the promise given to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel was to be fulfilled in all the tribes of Israel, not a portion of the Levite tribe. Moses appeals to God's reputation. He is more concerned about God's fame among foreigners than about his own life, which was in peril until God intervened.
16 The foreigners would not have known that God would have destroyed His people because of their disobedience. They would have come to their own conclusion that God was not able to defeat them and would choose to destroy them Himself than have them suffer humiliating defeats.
18 Moses also appeals to God's great mercy. The people had acted foolishly, but God has been merciful to them in the past. Moses' hope is that God's patience had not run out yet.
20 God listens to Moses' confession and plea for mercy on behalf of the Israelites. God forgives them and does not destroy them. The people received mercy based on the faithfulness of four men.
22 The ten tests were:
  1. The crossing of the Red Sea (Exo 14:11-12)
  2. Their complaint about the bitter water (15:23-34)
  3. The complaint about the lack of food (16:2-3)
  4. The hoarding of manna (16:19-20)
  5. Collecting manna on the Sabbath (16:27-29)
  6. The complaint about the lack of water (17:2-3)
  7. The worship of the golden calf (32:1-10)
  8. The complaint about hardships (Num 11:1-3)
  9. The dissatisfaction with the manna (11:4-6)
  10. Their lack of faith and obedience in taking the Promised Land (14:1-4)
23 The people were spared from instant death, but they would still suffer the consequences for their rebellion. They rejected God's intended good, so they would not receive it. If one rejects the good things God wants for him, He will withhold them from him.
24 Caleb, however, believed in God and openly pleaded for the people to share his faith. God was pleased with his actions. Caleb wanted God's good promise, and he would receive it.
30 It is interesting to note that God does not include Moses in this list of survivors. Moses did not fall into the doubt for which the rest of the Israelites were to be punished. However, God already knew that near the end of their wandering, Moses would dishonor God and be disqualified to lead Israel into the Promised Land (Num 20:1-13). Apparently, this hint was so subtle that Moses did not comprehend its implications.
31 The people used the welfare of their children as an excuse not to obey God. They should have known that God would protect them. Indeed, these children later grew up and took the land their parents refused to enter. During that time, we do not see a single instance of the children's children ever being threatened or harmed. God had promised to protect them and their children.

We must remember that this instance applied to Israel, to whom God promised protection. In ministry today, we are told to expect trouble (John 16:33), and we can expect our families to suffer with us. Yes, there will be times of miraculous provision and protection (perhaps many of them), but we should not be discouraged during times of trouble because Jesus has overcome the world. The reward for faithfulness is greater than any suffering we might endure. We should not let anxiety determine whether we will follow God or not. Our faith encourages us to follow God always.