All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” (Numbers 14:1-4)
It was a turning point in Israel’s history. The 12 spies had just returned from surveying the Promised Land and given their report. Ten of the 12 said the inhabitants of the land were too strong to be overcome. The other two (Joshua and Caleb) acknowledged that the opponents were strong, but believed God could (and would) fulfill His promise to them.
The options were on the table and Israel was about to vote with their feet. And as the passage above tells us, they chose NOT to enter Canaan. In their minds, their wives and children were at physical risk, therefore any direction was better than forward. Back to slavery in Egypt looked better, as did dying in the wilderness.
Fearing the giants of the land, Israel tried to “play it safe” – choosing the known over the unknown – even though the known (slavery or desert living) was awful and completely contrary to God’s clear command. They chose what they believed was better for their PHYSICAL health over what was best for their SPIRITUAL health. With their children looking on, they made a deliberate choice to fear men and disobey God.
I’m really in no position to shake my finger at them; I’ve done the same thing at times. I’ve chosen physical safety over spiritual risk. I selected the known over the scary unknown; the popular over the correct. How about you? Ever done the “safe” thing over the right thing? But let’s give it some thought – can disobeying God really ever be a better, safer choice in the long run?
(To receive these free daily devotions via email, sign up at: https://theteachableheart.com/classrooms-%26-devotions. For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit: https://theteachableheart.com/books.)