Summary: God uses desert experiences to prepare us for service
A. SETTLING FOR THE GREAT BACKSLIDE: Numbers 13, 14
1. Israel was within sight of the Promised Land. “It truly flows with milk and honey…” (13:27).
2. The people wanted to walk by sight. “Every one of you came near to me and said, “Let us send men before us and let them search . . . the way by which we should go up” (Deut. 1:22).
3. Did not “give in” to their weakness? “The Lord spoke . . . ‘send men to spy out’” (Num. 13:1, 2).
4. Israel was on the verge of leaving their problems. No water, no food, hot, no shade, i.e., the desert.
5. Sometimes leaders are blinded. “The plan pleased me (Moses) well” (Deut. 1:23).
6. God uses the desert experiences to prepare us for service.
Joseph – 14 years, a slave and jailed.
David – 13 years, Saul tried to kill him.
Paul’s desert experience to receive revelation of grace.
Jesus’ 40 days of temptation.
B. THERE IS ALWAYS A CHOICE
1. The search party: majority that was respected, “Moses . . . sent out 12 men, all tribal leaders” (13:3).
2. What was the task of the 12?
a. The strength of the people, “See whether . . . they are strong or weak” (13:18, NLT).
b. The head count. “See whether . . . few or many” (13:18, NLT).
c. Their defenses. “Do their towns have walls . . . unprotected?” (13:19, NLT).
d. Growing conditions. “The soil . . . fertile or poor?” (13:20, NLT).
e. How many trees?
f. Proof. “Bring back samples of the crops” (13:20, NLT).
3. Their first report. “The land . . . floweth with milk and honey” (13:27). “A cluster of grapes so large that it took two men to carry it on a pole between them” (13:23, NLT).
4. What was their second report?
a. Their enemy was too fierce to defeat.
b. Their cities were too big to capture.
c. They would be defeated.
d. They had giants.
e. We were bugs.
f. Our enemy was not afraid of us.
5. What’s wrong with the report of the 10 spies?
a. They saw the problems through their weaknesses and inabilities.
b. They began with BUT, “But they are powerful” (13:28, NLT).
c. They compared their enemies to themselves, not to God.
d. They forgot past victories against the Egyptians and Amalekites.
e. They forgot God’s promise to give them the “Promised” Land.
f. They forgot about the Shekinah cloud.
6. What was the result of the negative report?
a. People wept with fear (14:1).
b. People turned against leaders. “Complained against Moses and Aaron” (14:2).
c. Backslidden in their minds. “If only we had died in ‘Egypt” (14:2).
d. Backslidden actions. “Let us . . . return to Egypt” (14:4).
e. Blame God. “Why has the Lord… (Let us) become victims?” (14:3).
f. Turned violent. “The congregation said, ‘Stone them with stones’” (14:10).
C. JOSHUA AND CALEB MADE A POSITIVE CHOICE
1. They couldn’t believe the people turned again them. “…Tore their clothes” (14:6).
2. Were positive. “The land . . . was exceedingly good” (14:7).
3. Had faith in God. “The Lord . . . will bring us into this land” (14:8).
4. They saw victory. “The people . . . are our bread” (14:9).
D. THE RESPONSE OF God
1. God visited. “The glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle” (14:10).
2. God was exasperated because people wouldn’t believe what He did for them. “Even after the miraculous
signs I have done among them” (14:11, NLT).
3. Judged them. “I will disown them and judge them” (14:12, NLT).
4. God’s basis, “They have complained against Me ten times” (14:22, ELT).
5. The punishment is tied to disobedience. “None of those who have treated me with contempt will ever see L(the Promise Land) it.” (14:23, NLT).
6. Reward is tied to obedience. “The only exceptions will be Caleb . . . and Joshua” (14:30, NLT).
7. Immediate consequences. “The ten men Moses sent . . . were struck dead with a plague” (14:36, NLT).
E. 7 LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE BACKSLIDING OF OTHERS
1. Don’t test God’s patience, at least 10 times.
2. The majority are not always right.
3. Don’t quit when in sight of the goal.
4. The desert experience makes some stronger and eliminates others.
5. Track record. God expects us to make decisions for the future, based on His past guidance.
6. Look at your problems through God’s eyes.
If you have never really accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, would you do it right now? Do not delay or put it off. If you would like to receive Christ by faith, pray this simple prayer in your heart:
Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I believe Jesus died for my sins on the cross, and rose again the third day. I repent of my sins. By faith I receive the Lord Jesus as my Savior. You promised to save me, and I believe You, because You are God and cannot lie. I believe right now that the Lord Jesus is my personal Savior, and that all my sins are forgiven through His precious blood. I thank You, dear Lord, for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.