Numbers 14* The people murmur at the account of the spies. (1-4) Joshuaand Caleb labour to still the people. (5-10) The Divinethreatenings, The intercession of Moses. (11-19) The murmurersforbidden to enter the promised land. (20-35) Death of the evilspies. (36-39) Defeat of the people, who now would invade theland. (40-45)1-4 Those who do not trust God, continually vex themselves. Thesorrow of the world worketh death. The Israelites murmuredagainst Moses and Aaron, and in them reproached the Lord. Theylook back with causeless discontent. See the madness ofunbridled passions, which makes men prodigal of what natureaccounts most dear, life itself. They wish rather to diecriminals under God's justice, than to live conquerors in hisfavour. At last they resolve, that, instead of going forward toCanaan, they would go back to Egypt. Those who walk not in God'scounsels, seek their own ruin. Could they expect that God'scloud would lead them, or his manna attend them? Suppose thedifficulties of conquering Canaan were as they imagined, thoseof returning to Egypt were much greater. We complain of ourplace and lot, and we would change; but is there any place orcondition in this world, that has not something in it to make usuneasy, if we are disposed to be so? The way to better ourcondition, is to get our spirits in a better frame. See thefolly of turning from the ways of God. But men run on thecertain fatal consequences of a sinful course. 5-10 Moses and Aaron were astonished to see a people throw awaytheir own mercies. Caleb and Joshua assured the people of thegoodness of the land. They made nothing of the difficulties inthe way of their gaining it. If men were convinced of thedesirableness of the gains of religion, they would not stick atthe services of it. Though the Canaanites dwell in walledcities, their defence was departed from them. The other spiestook notice of their strength, but these of their wickedness. Nopeople can be safe, when they have provoked God to leave them.Though Israel dwell in tents, they are fortified. While we havethe presence of God with us, we need not fear the most powerfulforce against us. Sinners are ruined by their own rebellion. Butthose who, like Caleb and Joshua, faithfully expose themselvesfor God, are sure to be taken under his special protection, andshall be hid from the rage of men, either under heaven or inheaven. 11-19 Moses made humble intercession for Israel. Herein he wasa type of Christ, who prayed for those that despitefully usedhim. The pardon of a nation's sin, is the turning away thenation's punishment; and for that Moses is here so earnest.Moses argued that, consistently with God's character, in hisabundant mercies, he could forgive them. 20-35 The Lord granted the prayer of Moses so far as not atonce to destroy the congregation. But disbelief of the promiseforbids the benefit. Those who despise the pleasant land shallbe shut out of it. The promise of God should be fulfilled totheir children. They wished to die in the wilderness; God madetheir sin their ruin, took them at their word, and theircarcases fell in the wilderness. They were made to groan underthe burden of their own sin, which was too heavy for them tobear. Ye shall know my breach of promise, both the causes of it,that it is procured by your sin, for God never leaves any tillthey first leave him; and the consequences of it, that willproduce your ruin. But your little ones, now under twenty yearsold, which ye, in your unbelief, said should be a prey, themwill I bring in. God will let them know that he can put adifference between the guilty and the innocent, and cut them offwithout touching their children. Thus God would not utterly takeaway his loving kindness. 36-39 Here is the sudden death of the ten evil spies. Theysinned in bringing a slander upon the land of promise. Thosegreatly provoke God, who misrepresent religion, raise dislike inmen's minds toward it, or give opportunity to those to do so,who seek occasion. Justly are murmurers made mourners. If theyhad mourned for the sin, when they were faithfully reproved, thesentence had been prevented; but as they mourned for thejudgment only, it did them no service. There is in hell suchmourning as this; but tears will not quench the flames, nor coolthe tongue. 40-45 Some of the Israelites were now earnest to go forwardtoward Canaan. But it came too late. If men would but be asearnest for heaven while their day of grace lasts, as they willbe when it is over, how well would it be for them! That whichhas been duty in its season, when mistimed, may be turned intosin. Those who are out of the way of their duty, are not underGod's protection, and go at their peril. God bade them go, andthey would not; he forbade them, and they would go. Thus is thecarnal mind enmity against God. They had distrusted God'sstrength; they now presume upon their own without his. And theexpedition fails accordingly; now the sentence began to beexecuted, that their carcases should fall in the wilderness.That affair can never end well, which begins with sin. The wayto obtain peace with our friends, and success against ourenemies, is, to have God, as our Friend, and to keep in hislove. Let us take warning from the fate of Israel, lest weperish after the same example of unbelief. Let us go forth,depending on God's mercy, power, promise, and truth; he will bewith us, and bring our souls to everlasting rest.
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