Numbers 14:1-10 The children of Israel wept in fear over the inhabitants of the land of Canaan and complained to Moses and Aaron. They said they would have rather died in Egypt or in their travels then to face the giants in Canaan and be killed by the sword. They said that they should pick a different leader that would lead them back to Egypt. Moses and Aaron fell on their faces. Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes and tried to convince the people that God will give them victory and to not fear to go into the land and begged them not to rebel against God. But the people were about to stone Joshua and Caleb when the glory of the Lord appeared to them at the tent of meeting.
Numbers 14:11-19 The Lord asked Moses asked how long the people would despise Him and not believe after all He did for them. The Lord threatened to kill them all and said he would start all over again with Moses. Moses was trying to protect the Lord’s Name by telling God that the Egyptians won’t think He as strong as He claims if He didn’t keep His promise by bringing the children of Israel into the land He promised. Moses reminded the Lord that He said that He was slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression. Moses asked the Lord to forgive the sins of the people according to His love, just as He had forgiven them so far.
Notes: Thus God judged the leaders (who “died by the plague before the Lord”) because of the disastrous effect of their bad report (it made all the congregation grumble against Moses)—a dramatic reminder of the principle that God requires a higher level of accountability for those in leadership.
Numbers 14:20-38 The Lord forgave the people, but promised that none of the people that witnesses His power when taking them out of Egypt would live to enter the promised land of Canaan. The Lord promised that Caleb and his descendants shall possess it. (This would include Joshua, for he will take over and enter Canaan after Moses dies). The Lord then instructed Moses to lead the people back into the wilderness the following day. The Lord said that he will grant the people’s wish by allowing them to die in the wilderness, but would never send them back to Egypt. All those 20 years old and up will die in the wilderness and not enter Canaan, except for Caleb and Joshua. Even though the children would eventually enter Canaan, they would have to suffer wandering the wilderness for 40 years also, 1 year for each day the 12 spied out the land. The Lord then struck down the 10 spies with a plague who came back and grumbled to the people.
Numbers 14:39-45 When Moses passed on to the people what the Lord had said, they mourned, repented, and prepared themselves to go to Canaan. Moses warned them that they were again sinning against God by ignoring God’s command that they will not go into Canaan and would suffer the consequences if they attempted to go anyway for the Lord would not fight for them, and as a result, will die by the sword. Some of the people didn’t listen, and left the Moses and the ark of the covenant behind and went into the land of Canaan. They were defeated soundly.