By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
Israelhad messed up big time. And this time, it would cost them.
They were on the way to the Promised Land. As they get closer, the Israelites send spied into Canaan to gain information and see what they were up against. Two of the spies come back and shared good news about a land flowing with milk and honey, about these giant clusters of grapes that had to be carried by two people. But as the other spies returned, their message wasn’t as grand. They told of powerful armies and difficult enemies. If the Israelites were going to enter the Promised Land, they were in for a fight. They told the Israelites that it was better to go back to Egypt and forget the Promised Land altogether.
And the Israelites agreed. They rebelled against God and Moses. They were ready to begin the trek back to Egypt and enter slavery once more.
God isn’t pleased with this response. He’d provided for them time and time again. He had delivered them from Pharaoh. He was about to give them a land that was abundant with everything they needed. And yet, the Israelites insisted on rebelling.
God was ready to wipe the Israelites out. He was about to kill them off and begin a new nation out of Moses.
But Moses intercedes on the Israelites behalf. He reminds God of the covenant he made with Moses. He tells God of his love and grace and forgiveness. And because of Moses’s speech, God does not wipe out the Israelites. Instead, he gives them just what they ask for.
Did you know that when we rebel against God and try to circumvent his will, sometimes he gives us just what we want? Sometimes, the worst punishment is giving us over to our desires.
God says, “You don’t want to enter the Promised Land? Fine. You never will.” Instead, the Israelites were forced to wander in the wilderness until they’d all died off, including Moses. It was their children that would enter the land of Canaan. But until then, God’s Chosen People were forced to wander.
As I began to ponder this passage, I began to think: When faced with the disobedience of his people, why does God no longer simply wait for us to die? Why doesn’t he wait for a generation that may be more capable or obedient? We’ve denied him so many times and disobeyed his commands, so why doesn’t he force us to wander?
Here’s the crucial difference: In order to promote change in the Israelites, God had to wait for them to die off. In order to promote change in us, God has to wait for us to die to ourselves.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).
Because of Christ, whenever the spies come back from Canaan, we can die to our fear. We can die to our doubt. We can die to our disobedience. We can die to our sin.
We don’t have to wander. Instead, we can die.
And there find life.