Today's devotion is going to center on an event that took place immediately following the one we discussed yesterday, so if you didn't get a chance to read it, you might want to do that now. Overall, the story of the twelve spies is well-known, but sometimes I feel that, because it's familiar, we overlook some important lessons. It is one of those lessons that I would like to focus on today.
And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me. Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. - Numbers 14:26-30
Basically, the ten spies said that there was no way they could conquer the land that God had promised, so God let them have what they wanted. In essence, God said, "Fine. You don't want the land that I've saved for you? That's just fine. You can wander around in this wilderness until you die." Sounds cruel, I know, but we must remember that God is not unkind, but He is holy. Israel had crossed a line this time, and there was no going back. But that's not to say that they didn't try. After Moses told the people what God said, they suddenly had a change of heart.
And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly. And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the Lord hath promised: for we have sinned. - Numbers 14:39-40
Seriously? The crowd that was murmuring and complaining the day before, angry to the point that they were about to stone Moses and those who trusted in God, was now ready to say, "Okay, we're here. Let's go to this land that God promised." What's the old saying? Too little, too late.
That's basically what Moses told them. "Are you kidding me? God said you're not to have that land, and now you want to go? No. You can't have it. If you try to take it, the Lord will not be with you." In other words, if you're intent on fighting this battle, you'll be fighting it all on your own. But the people refused to listen. They wanted the land, and now they were willing to disobey God to have it. Evidently, they had forgotten that the wages of sin is death.
But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp. Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah. - Numbers 14:44-45
They paid for their disobedience with their lives, and what's so very sad about the entire affair is that they could have had the land if they had simply trusted and obeyed God in the first place. But they waited too long to do the right thing, and by the time they decided to do it, it was the wrong thing. God had withdrawn his offer. It was too late.
Sometimes God gives second chances (i.e. Jonah), but sometimes He doesn't, and there's no way to know which is which. So, friend, my challenge to you today is to obey God immediately. Don't wait until it's convenient. Don't wait until it makes sense. Don't wait until you have all the details figured out. If God is asking you to do something, do it now. Don't delay. After all, you might not get another chance, and your disobedience might cost you far more than you're willing to pay.