Chapter 4: A Revolting Situation

Chapter 4
A Revolting Situation


After the Israelites had spent a year at Mount Horeb receiving the law and building the Tabernacle, the time drew near for them to inherit the Promised Land.In Deut. 1:19-21 Moses says,

19 Then we set out from Horeb, and went through all that great and terrible wilderness which you saw, on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, just as the Lord our God had commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea20 And I said to you, “You have come to the hill country of the Amorites which the Lord our God is about to give us. 21 See, the Lord your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

We read in Deuteronomy 1:2 that it was an eleven-day journey from Horeb north to Kadesh-barnea. Numbers 10:11 tells us that they started this journey on the 20th day of the second month, or about five weeks after they had finished erecting the Tabernacle.

Evidences of Unbelief

Three days later, the people complained about the meat shortage, saying that they were tired of the boring diet of manna (Num. 11:6). God judged them by a plague, and the name of the place was thus called Kibroth-hattaavah, “graves of greediness.”

Their next stop was a Hazeroth (Num. 11:35), where Miriam condemned her brother, Moses, for marrying a Cushite—that is, Zipporah, the Midianite daughter of Jethro. There were two lands of Cush in those days, one being south of Egypt, and the other in Arabia, which included Midian.

Miriam was struck with leprosy, a rather harsh judgment on the surface. But Miriam was judged according to her level of knowledge and authority. She should have known better. God healed her after Moses’ intercession, but Israel then had to tarry at that place for the seven days of Miriam’s purification (Num. 12:15). Then they continued their journey to Kadesh.

The Twelve Spies Commissioned

Moses continues in his speech in Deut. 1:22,

22 Then all of you approached me and said, “Let us send men before us, that they may search out the land for us, and bring back to us word of the way by which we should go up, and the cities which we shall enter.”

The story, as told in Numbers 13:1, 2, does not tell us that the people had requested to Moses to send men to spy out the land. There we are told only that the Lord told Moses to send the spies. Now we learn the circumstances behind this revelation. The people made their request, and Moses took it to God, who told Moses to comply with their request.

At the time, Moses probably did not suspect that their request was motivated by their uneasiness (fear) and unbelief. God knew, of course, because the outcome was part of His plan.

23 And the thing pleased me and I took twelve of your men, one man for each tribe. 24 And they turned and went up into the hill country, and came to the valley of Eshcol, and spied it out.

The 12 spies returned to give their report on the 50th Jubilee from Adam (the start of the year 2450, or 50 x 49 years). The Jubilee calendar had been functioning since the beginning, no doubt, as evidenced by the events throughout Jacob's life, but there was not yet any such thing as a Day of Atonement.

The Day of Atonement, which is celebrated on the same day as the Jubilee, was a reminder of Israel's lack of faith when they believed the evil report of the ten spies. Deut. 1:25 says of these spies,

25 Then they took some of the fruit of the land in their hands and brought it down to us; and they brought us back a report and said, “It is a good land which the Lord our God is about to give us.”

Further details are given in Numbers 13:20-23,

20 . . . Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes. . . . 23 Then they came to the valley of Eshcol and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two men, with some of the pomegranates and the figs.

The 12 spies were supposed to encourage the people to return to the land of their inheritance. They had been gone for many years, and this Jubilee was the time for their return. A study of Chronology shows it to be the 50th Jubilee from Adam.

Lev. 25:10 says,

10 It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property.

Verse 13 says,

13 On this year of Jubilee each of you shall return to his own property.

Because it was the 50th Jubilee from Adam, it was a Jubilee of Jubilees, dating from Adam’s expulsion from the Garden. Proclaiming the Jubilee would have cancelled the debt of Adam's sin. Potentially, the people would have returned to the immortal body that was Adam's inheritance prior to sin. It would have been far greater than a mere land inheritance in Canaan.

However, the divine plan called for a delay, even though it was the will of God that they enter Canaan, for He had something better for us at a later time. And so God merely offered them the physical land of Canaan as a type and shadow of those greater things to come. Verse 26 continues,

26 Yet you were not willing to go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God.

The people believed the evil report of the ten spies, rather than the good report of the two spies. Hebrews 3:19 attributes this to their lack of faith, or unbelief. They did not believe that God was capable of fulfilling His promise, because they thought that the success of God's promises depended upon their own fleshly strength.

The Blindness Factor

We read later in Deut. 29:4 and 5 that Moses told the Israelites,

4 Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear. 5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness...

Hence, it is plain that if God had given the Israelites eyes to see and ears to hear, they would have had sufficient faith to enter Canaan on the 50th Jubilee. The Lord had already given Moses the revelation that He Himself is the one who makes men deaf, dumb, and blind (Ex. 4:11). So although God commanded them to inherit at that time, He withheld from them seeing eyes and hearing ears so that they would not enter at that time.

God never intended for that Jubilee to overcome mortality brought about by Adam's sin, for then men would have been perfected too soon, and the fullness of the Kingdom would have been established apart from the coming of Christ. Up to that point, they had been given only the type of Christ, the Passover lambs. The blood of an animal was insufficient to bring any man into immortality.

It is plain, then, that God was not taken by surprise when Israel refused to enter Canaan at the 50th Jubilee. Though their entry was God's will, it was certainly not His plan. So God applied the brakes by not giving them seeing eyes and hearing ears.

This blind and deaf condition still prevails in the church today as it did in Moses' day, although it is my expectation that this will change soon. It will change with the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we anticipate. This will then remove the divine brake that has been the true hindrance of seeing the full Kingdom of God upon the earth.

The Belief that God Hated Them

Moses continues in Deut. 1:27-28,

27 and you grumbled in your tents, and said, “Because the Lord hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us. 28 Where can we go up? Our brethren have made our hearts melt, saying, 'The people are bigger and taller than we; the cities are large and fortified to heaven.' And besides, we saw the sons of the Anakim there.”

Their spiritual immaturity is evident here, for they had little faith and obviously did not understand the divine plan. They attributed their situation to God hating them. They were like children, who, when disciplined, think that their parents hate them. Immaturity is not able to distinguish between discipline motivated by love and punishment that is motivated by hatred.

29 Then I said to you, “Do not be shocked, nor fear them. 30 The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, 31 and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked, until you came to this place.”

Even though God had been feeding them daily with manna, and had protected them from Pharaoh's army at the Red Sea, they did not think God loved them. They were too immature to comprehend God's love, because as children they were yet incapable of a serious understanding of unselfish love.

Even so, God carried them “as a man carries his son.” Parents understand the immaturity of their children and are able to care for them in spite of their childish disobedience.

God Chose Israel’s Camps

Moses told Israel that God did care about them, even to the point of planning each of their camps.

32 But for all this, you did not trust the Lord your God, 33 who goes before you on your way, to seek out a place for you to encamp, in fire by night and cloud by day, to show you the way in which you should go.

God led them by the pillar of fire and the cloud to lead them to specific encampments. Fenton translates this, “to choose your encampments.” Each camp provided opportunity for them to rest in a new revelation. Israel had 41 encampments prior to crossing the Jordan River. The first 32 are listed in Numbers 33:5-36, leading to the death of Aaron. The final camps are listed in verses 41-49.

Their 42nd encampment was in the plains of Jericho after crossing the Jordan River. This too is prophetic. The number 41 is the biblical number that means “separation,” and 42 means “arrival.” While Israel was in its 41st camp, they were still separated by the Jordan River from their inheritance. After crossing the Jordan, they had arrived in the Promised Land.

This connects with the 42 generations of Christ in Matthew 1:17. As we can see, only 41 generations are actually given—not 42. It is 41 generations to Jesus. It is 42 generations to the “Christ” that includes His body. In other words, we are the 42nd generation as the body of Christ.

Jesus, being the 41st generation, was like Moses (Acts 7:37), who died during Israel's 41st encampment. But Jesus is also Joshua (Yeshua) the Ephraimite in His second coming. Thus, when Joshua (Yeshua) led Israel across the river to the 42nd encampment, it was the time for the body of Joshua to inherit with Him. And when Jesus comes the second time as Joshua the Ephraimite, He comes not only by Himself but as a body of overcomers. These will inherit the birthright with Him, for Joseph-Ephraim was given the birthright (1 Chron. 5:1, 2).

We can see, then, that God carefully planned each camp to give Israel revelation that they needed and which was also prophetic of the New Testament “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38). We are fortunate to be living in the time of the final “encampments.”

Consequences of Unbelief

Beginning in Deut. 1:34-36, Moses reminded Israel of the consequences of their unbelief when they had believed the evil report of the ten spies:

34 Then the Lord heard the sound of your words, and He was angry and took an oath, saying, 35 “Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land which I swore to give to your fathers, 36 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, he shall see it, and to him and to his sons I will give the land on which he has set foot, because he has followed the Lord fully.”

The story in Num. 14:30 includes Joshua among the obedient ones who would be allowed to enter the land. The children under the age of twenty were also exempted, showing that God did not hold them accountable for the sins of their fathers (Num. 14:31). This was done according to the law of God expressed in Deut. 24:16,

16 Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.

Nonetheless, the children were still affected by the sins of their fathers, for they were not able to enjoy the Promised Land for another 38 years. Hence, Ezekiel 18:2 tells us of a proverb, “The fathers eat the sour grapes, but the children's teeth are set on edge.”

Even Caleb and Joshua were affected by the decision of the congregation (church), for they too had to remain in the wilderness with the rest of the body.

Not only does this reveal the law and mind of God, but it also prophesies thereby of the New Testament Church, which has followed the same pattern of “the church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38).

The Pattern Repeated in the New Testament

Jesus was crucified as the Passover Lamb, depicting our exodus from the bondage of sin. Then He told His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until the fulfillment of Pentecost—the day God spoke to Israel and gave them the Ten Commandments on Mount Horeb.

Later Stephen was stoned, while he saw the glory of God appearing to him (Acts 7:56). This incident was the parallel to the near stoning of Caleb and Joshua when they urged the people to have faith in God and to enter the Promised Land. Num. 14:10 says,

10 But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel.

The people dropped their stones, and then Moses prayed for their pardon in verse 19, saying, “Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people.” Likewise did Stephen so pray in Acts 7:60 as he was being stoned:

60 And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” And having said this, he fell asleep. 1 And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death...

It was necessary for this incident to occur in order to justify the second delay of the Kingdom, even as Israel was delayed for 40 years. The main difference is that Israel was delayed 40 years for its intent to stone Caleb and Joshua, whereas the NT church was delayed 40 Jubilees when Stephen was stoned.

Why would the church be held accountable for the stoning of Stephen? Surely the believers in Christ were not in agreement with the Jews as they stoned him! The answer lies in the fact that the church was not yet separate from the temple. Hence, the decisions of the Jewish leaders to stone Stephen implicated all of the people, including those who believed in Jesus Christ.

The church’s separation from Judaism was a painful process. The Apostle Paul was the main advocate of separation, though his argument was limited to the rejection of physical circumcision and the equality of believers from every ethnic group. It was not until the Romans began their siege of Jerusalem that the church fled the city. Eusebius tells us in his Ecclesiastical History, III, 5,

“Further, the members of the Jerusalem church, by means of an oracle given by revelation to acceptable persons there, were ordered to leave the City before the war began and settle in a town in Perea called Pella. To Pella, those who believed in Christ migrated from Jerusalem….

When the city and temple were destroyed in 70 A.D., the separation was complete, for neither Christian nor Jew had any longer a city and temple as their religious center. The Jews floundered for a time, but the Christians came to appreciate Paul’s prior teaching that Jerusalem was Hagar and ought not to be considered the “mother” of the church. Gal. 4:26 says,

26 But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.

During the 40 Jubilees that the New Testament church wandered in the wilderness (33-1993 A.D.), the overcomers were required to remain with them. There have been many over the centuries who have sought to be released from the judgment upon the church, claiming an exemption as an overcomer. But the only promise they have been given is that they will be alive when it comes time to enter and inherit the Promised Land.

This is why the resurrection of the overcomers must take place “first” prior to the day of their entry at the feast of Tabernacles. The overcomers have lived and died throughout history, but the promise they carry is the redemption of their body (Rom. 8:23). Like Caleb and Joshua, they will indeed be made alive at the day of resurrection (feast of Trumpets) when the seventh trumpet is blown.

Moses Barred from Canaan

Continuing in Deut. 1:37, we read,

37 The Lord was angry with me also on your account, saying, “Not even you shall enter there.”

Did God tell Moses this when the Israelites refused to enter Canaan? The text is unclear, and certainly nothing like this is stated in the story found in Numbers 14. Had Moses held this secret for 40 years? Probably not. It is more likely that Moses was telling them of the recent event which had occurred shortly before his speech, where he disobeyed God by striking the rock instead of speaking to it (Num. 20:11). Aaron died shortly thereafter as a result (20:24), and finally Moses himself died for the same reason. Deut. 32:49-52 says,

49 Go up to this mountain, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel for a possession. 50 Then die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, 51 because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel. 52 For you shall see the land at a distance, but you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel.

Moses played his roles in many types and shadows. Here he was a type of leader who had rebelled by disagreeing with God. Hence, the name of the place is Meribah-Kadesh, or “Contention-Holy.” Moses disagreed with God by striking the rock, and thus he did not testify of God’s rightful position as King.

Moses was also a type of the Old Covenant which he had mediated, and so it was inevitable that he would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. The Old Covenant could give Israel a small land inheritance, but only the New Covenant could give the better promise which would reverse the curse of Adam.

Yet Moses was also a type of Christ in His first appearance, in that he led Israel out of the house of bondage at Passover.

Such is the nature of types and shadows. Moses is a good example how people can be called to fulfill multiple types in different ways or at different times.

The Children Inherit

The children were called to play the role of the generation at the end of the age which lives to see the establishment of the fulness of the Kingdom. Moses says of them in Deut. 1:39,

39 Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them, and they shall possess it.

Their fathers died in the wilderness, because of their decision to remain there rather than to inherit the promises. Their decision affected their children, making them “a prey,” victims of circumstance. God's judgment upon the fathers was not only for their lack of faith, but also for how it affected their children, who were innocent victims. Jesus later revealed the heart of God in Matt. 18:6, saying,

6 But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Deut. 1:39 seems to indicate that the Israelite children had “no knowledge of good or evil” even 40 years later when Moses was giving his first speech. It is difficult to take this literally by our Western understanding. After all, these had been the ones who had complained about a lack of water when Moses struck the rock the second time (Num. 20:11). At that time, Moses called them “rebels.” It would seem that these grown children were little better than their fathers.

I believe this phrase is a Hebrew idiom for innocence. To “this day” they were innocent of their father's decision in Num. 14, when they refused to enter the land. Moses did not intend to say that they were ignorant of right and wrong.

Even so, that next generation of Israelites remained alive at the time Israel actually entered the Promised Land. They serve as the pattern for “we who are alive and remain” (1 Thess. 4:17) at the end of the Pentecostal Age, for these are the ones who will live to see the fulfillment of the promises at Christ’s second appearance.