BAMIDBAR (NUMBERS) 25:10–30:1
In our weekly reading we read, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Among these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names’” (Numbers 26:52–53).
As we continue with our reading, we learn of a very tragic reality that, I believe, is a warning to us all:
These are those who were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the sons of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. But among these there was not a man of those who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest, who numbered the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. For the LORD had said of them, “They shall surely die in the wilderness.” And not a man was left of them, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.
The tragic reality is the fact that none but two of the children of Israel who exited Egypt and wandered in the wilderness received an inheritance in the Land; neither Moses or Aaron were able to enter into the Land of Promise — only Caleb and Joshua (both of who were born in Egypt prior to the Exodus) were given permission to enter the Land.
This is tragic because an entire generation missed the opportunity to grab hold of their inheritance, which was the Land of Promise, due to their lack of faith. In Hebrews 3:16–19 we read:
For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.
When we read the biblical accounts, a very important point, which we can easily miss, is that these stories also serve as a warning for us today. Sha’ul the Shaliach (Paul the Apostle) refers to this in the first book to the Corinthians:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Messiah.Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
In other words, my dear brothers and sisters, please do not take God’s grace for granted! The one glimmer of hope that we can take away from this tragic account is that God always makes a provision for those who choose to obey Him. Just as He did for Caleb and Joshua, those who are chosen by God will enter into eternal rest.
Be warned but also be encouraged; learn from the mistakes of the past and walk by faith into the future!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.