But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. … I, the LORD, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die. Numbers 14:21-23, 35 ESV
We love to emphasize the goodness and generosity of God demonstrated by His faithful fulfillment of His promises to those who receive them by faith. He does meet our needs, grant us desires according to His good and perfect will for us and do above and beyond what we could ever ask or imagine. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable grace poured out upon us through faith in Christ!
But there is another side to this topic that is often neglected; one that is rooted in the same character of God that we love so much. Yes, the Lord is faithful to fulfill His promises – all His promises. And He promises to bring retribution and justice on those who disobey Him, those who willfully put Him to the test and rebel against Him.
In the above passage we note that God had promised those who He delivered from the bondage of Egypt a Promised Land inheritance. But when the 12 spies returned with their report after completing their forty-day mission, ten (the majority) spread fear, doubt and disobedience regarding their future. Two, Joshua and Caleb (the minority) reminded all that though there were challenges in occupying the land, the land was all that God promised and that one with God is a majority!
The people chose to believe the majority report, disobeyed God and received the consequences of their disobedience. God promised them that there would be severe consequences for their disobedience and He was faithful to His promises.
The justice of God demands that He never ignore disobedience or show partiality, for to do so would be injustice and contrary to His very nature. He will and does punish sin. Let us tremble at that reality and praise Him that we are delivered from His wrath by grace in Christ. For it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God! (Hebrews 10:31)
May we who lead others, remind those we influence about the promises and faithfulness of God. May we be true to the whole message of God’s faithfulness, the pleasant and ‘not so pleasant’ realities and warn others of the consequences for disobedience.
Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. Exodus 23:2 NIV
“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Hebrews 10:38-39 NIV