This story has applications for all of us, as well as applications about parenting our children like the Lord parents His children.
Num 13:27-33 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
This story starts with the spies that Moses sent out into the land of Canaan returning with their report. The report was not a good report. It was a report that people of the land were so great that the children of Israel would not be successful in the conquering of the land. Caleb's report was that they could go up and possess the land, but his report was overshadowed by the other's evil report.
Num 14:1-4 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
It is interesting how the children of Israel reacted. First they spent the night crying, then they started to murmur against Moses and Aaron, and then they came up with a plan. Their plan was to find a new leader and go back to Egypt! They completely forgot that they were not the ones in control, the Lord was in control. The people had a complete lack of faith in the Lord; He wasn't involved anywhere in their thought process!
Num 14:5-10 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.
Now we see the voices of reason. Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb plead with the people to trust in the Lord, because He would give them the land. They beg them not to rebel against the Lord, but the people didn't listen to them. In fact they were ready to stone Moses and Aaron. Then the Lord steps into the picture.
Num 14:11-12 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
The Lord was ready to destroy the people because of their sin. Fortunately for the people, Moses begged the Lord to pardon them (vs 13-19)
Num 14:19-24 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.
The Lord does pardon the people, but they still had to face the consequences for their actions. The people would not be allowed to enter into the land of Canaan.
Num 14:28-35 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. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.
The Lord tells the people that they would be wandering in the wilderness for forty years. They would all die in the wilderness, and their children would have to wander in the wilderness because of them.
Num 14:36-39 And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD. But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still. And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly
The men that caused the people to sin were punished as well. They died in a plague that the Lord brought on them. Caleb and Joshua escaped the plague and the judgment because they had done what was right.
The people's sin deserved great consequences, the Lord was ready to destroy them! The Lord in His mercy did not give them the death they deserved immediately, instead he condemned the people to wander in the wilderness until they all died. The spies that caused the people to sin had their own judgment, they immediately lost their lives because of their sin.
Now the application. First an application about trusting the Lord, then we will get to the parenting application. The children of Israel faced a huge challenge and trusting the Lord wasn't even an option. What about us? When difficulties come our way to we cry, complain, then come up with our own plan that has nothing to do with what the Lord wants for us? Living by faith means that no matter what challenges we face we trust the Lord that He will lead us through!
Now the parenting part. We see the Lord punishing the people very severely for their sin, not as severely as it could have been, but still, wandering in the wilderness and not being able to enter Canaan was a rather severe consequence. As parents are we leery about giving severe consequences? The Lord also punished the spies more severely than the people because they had caused the people to sin. If one of our children is causing others to sin, does that child receive a punishment greater that the others that were led into that sin?