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The sin of rebellion

Scripture: Numbers 13:17-14:35

Aim: To show the pupil some of the awful results of rebelling against the clear revelation of God.

Golden Text: “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.”

“Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from 20 years old and upward, which have murmured against me” (Numbers 14:27, 29). “And your children shall wander in the wilderness 40 years, and bear your whoredoms, until you carcasses be wasted in the wilderness” (Numbers 14:33).

Complaining and murmuring against the Lord and His Word is a terrible sin, which will result in severe judgment against those who are guilty. When Jehovah God, the Supreme God of the Universe, instructs men in what they should know, believe and do, He expects that men will obey.

God is gracious and forgiving; however, He will not always be gracious and forgiving toward those who persist in rebellion, complaining and murmuring.

Look at His message to the complaining Israelites in the wilderness.

“How long will this people provoke me? And how long will it be before they believe me, for all the signs which I have showed among them? I will smite them with pestilence, and disinherit them” (Numbers 14:11-12, Look at the Golden Text above.).

Jehovah was with the Israelites from the time they left Egyptian bondage. He was leading them with the Cloud of His Presence. He was supplying them with their needs on their journey. He had stopped them off at Mount Sinai to receive their charter for a nation.

The people and leaders of Israel rebelled, complained and murmured at Jehovah and Moses at every difficulty. They had for nine times been ready to return to Egypt and slavery. This lesson is their 10th rebellion. Jehovah has been patient and gracious until now. His patience and grace with Israel ends in this lesson.

I. Spies were sent to investigate the land of Palestine (Numbers 13:17-25). One man from each of the 12 tribes went (13:1-16). They traveled over the southern part of Palestine. They brought back evidence of the great fruitfulness of the land with all its goods, cities and houses.

II. There was one thing that 10 of the men brought back, which infected the whole of Israel (13:26-33). They brought back a terrible fear because of the giants in the land! Never mind Jehovah, there are giants in the land! We cannot enter and take the land.

III. Only two of the 12 had a genuine faith in God and His promises. They were Caleb and Joshua (13:30; 14:30). They tried to calm the people and encourage them to believe the Word and leadership of Jehovah.

IV. The people refused to listen (14:1-4). They wept bitterly (vs. 1). They murmured against Moses, Aaron and Jehovah (vs. 2). They accused God of bringing them into the wilderness to kill them (pitiful, deluded folks! Where is their brain after all Jehovah has done for them?). They prepared to “elect a leader to take them back to Egypt (vs. 4).

Hold on a minute! We today tend to do the same thing Israel did. Regardless of the great blessing we have enjoyed, often in difficulties we blame God and others! That is a bad response. We should remember the blessings and trust in the Lord that He will meet our every need!

V. Jehovah has had it with Israel (14:11-35). He will kill all men 20 to 50 years old (vs. 29, 650,000). He will cause all the people to remain in the wilderness for 40 years (vs. 34). Only Joshua and Caleb will He allow to enter the land.

What a great price murmuring, complaining and refusing to obey God cost Israel. Let us remember that Jehovah God still strongly disapproves of these sins and will judge them today!