Here’s the rebellion. A sad, tragic chapter.
Of course the people bought the negative spin about Canaan in the last chapter. In the populist manner, the negative narrative resonates with their growing fear, self obsession and discontent. They were already grumbling before the negative report on the promised land. They completely fall apart.
I mustn’t buy my own negative spin about my local church.
God’s anger burns, Moses pleads.
God wants to start again with just Moses.
Moses’ logic with God is a model of pragmatism. If the Israelites are all slaughtered in the desert, God will look bad, regardless of how much they deserve it.
But Moses does really get God on a profound level. He sees the love, the patience, the forgiveness. He understands the problem of sin and the tension of it. When he asks God to forgive them, God says he already has.
The problem they both have is the inability of the people to hold onto a hope, a promise that they are chosen and that God is real and they should trust him. They’ve had the Exodus, the tent of meeting, the manna and quail, water from the rock, seen the punishment for sin in the tabernacle when Aaron’s sons died, and after the incident with the calf and the quail, etc. They’ve heard and celebrated the Levitical law.
And they have heard the believer spies, Caleb and Joshua, who understand that God can give them the land, and don’t trash talk it. The people have heard the case that God can do going forward what he has done to get them to where they are.
Note, despite all these reasons they have to believe, they’ve had less concrete stuff to go on than our generation, just consider that. Why do so many not believe? Why do I feel daunted at the resources cf. task of my local church?
The Amercian Christians who see Donald Trump as a means of advancing God’s kingdom have lost it even more profoundly than the Israelites, IMHO. They trust in chariots and horses.
I’ll trust in the name of the Lord.
So the dread consquence is spelled out. The Israelite’s children will inherit the promised land, but none of the disbelieving generation will see it. They will die in the wilderness. But they will have the comfort of a life long enough to have children, and knowing they will inherit the promised land.
Joshua and Caleb are the only ones who will see it.
Give me/us faith to see it too.