The Israelites learned the hard way that unbelief and listening to the voice of majority has major consequences. Many times, the voice of the majority is not correct, and it requires courage and discernment to hear God amid all the unbelief around us.
Then the Lord said: “I have pardoned, according to your word; but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord— because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it. Numbers 14:20-24
Only two out of twelve spies came back with a good report. The ten spies exaggerated the problem to the point that they convinced themselves and others that they were not capable of fighting those men. On the other hand, Joshua and Caleb’s report was faith-filled. They saw the size of their enemies, but they resolved that God is greater than any giants in the land.
Faith is a decision to believe God and to trust Him when we don’t have all the facts. Genuine and bold faith is not easily found. The voice of the majority generally is the voice of unbelief and relying on it is bound to cause problems and lead people the wrong way.
While we should count the cost before we make a major decision, there are times that we cannot figure out God’s direction, but we know it is from Him. If we are going to walk by faith, we have to accept the fact that the Lord may not provide step-by-step instructions nor does He give details in advance. All we know is that He is guiding us in a certain direction.
When you read the entire passage in Numbers 14, you find that Moses interceded on behalf of the Israelites and God forgave them. However, they still had to experience the consequences of their unbelief and disobedience. God punished the Israelites by keeping them in the wilderness one year for every day that they spent scouting out the land and bringing the unfavorable report to the people. That meant they were going to spend forty years in the wilderness. The only two from their generation who were going to make it to the Land of promise were Joshua and Caleb!
The Israelites’ unbelief and disobedience were very costly. Our unbelief and its associated disobedience can also be very costly, and it may lead us to going around the mountain over and over again.
Interestingly, we don’t find Joshua and Caleb complaining about the Israelites’ unbelief and the fact that they also had to remain in the wilderness for forty years before they could enter the land of promise. These two individuals were courageous in the true sense of the word. They were not just warriors confident in their ability to fight the enemies, but they were also humble men who accepted the consequence of Israelites’ disobedience and went around the mountain right along with them.
Knowing God was displeased with them, the Israelites decided to go up and fight the Amalekites after all. Moses told them that they were being presumptuous. God had given them a window of grace and the opportunity to fight the “giants’ in the land, but they had refused to accept it at the right time. Surprisingly, they did not feel like grasshoppers anymore and they thought they could fight them this time! In reality, the Israelites were operating in carnality both times. At first, they did not want to go because they focused on themselves and didn’t think they had what it took to conquer the land. Now, they felt bad about God’s punishment and displeasure, so they decided to fix it on their own. They were not looking to the Lord to help, and they ended up not succeeding in their own efforts.
Sometimes, we get emotional and make rash decisions. We can vacillate back and forth based on how we feel at the moment about a decision. It is better to seek the Lord and allow our emotions of fear, guilt, frustration, or pride to subside, so we can hear God clearly rather than jumping into or out of a decision based on momentary emotions.
Caleb and Joshua remained steady and were able to successfully reach the Promised Land. Our walk with the Lord will continue to require faith, patience, obedience, and humility to have the longevity and the success that Caleb and Joshua experienced.