Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.CHAPTER 14
The Rebellion of the People, Moses’ Intercession and the Divine Sentence
1. The rebellion (Numbers 14:1-10)
2. The intercession of Moses (Numbers 14:11-25)
3. The divine sentence (Numbers 14:26-39)
4. The presumption of the people and the defeat (Numbers 14:40-45)
The words of unbelief of the ten spies yielded an awful harvest among the people. The camp was transformed into a camp of despair, weeping and crying during the night. Outspoken rebellion against Moses and Aaron was heard on all sides. Worse than that took place; they accused Jehovah of deception. Such is unbelief. They are ready to select a captain and march back to Egypt. Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb stand alone among the hundreds of thousands of murmuring, rebellious Israelites and the mixed multitude. They fell on their faces, no doubt in the attitude of prayer and worship, to tell the Lord. They tried to stem the swelling tide of rebellion. Read the supplementary words in Deuteronomy 1:29-31. “Jehovah is with us!” This was the word of cheer and comfort. Their answer was the stones with which they were ready to stone the servants of the Lord. Unbelief had robbed them of all reason, blinded their eyes and rushed them into despair and prompted them to become murderers. Beautiful is the scene of Moses’ intercession. He stands out as a striking type of our great Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jehovah’s offer to Moses to make a new start after destroying the rebels and to make Moses a greater nation, even than Israel, is rejected. He does not want glory for himself, but he is jealous for Jehovah’s name and glory. And in the intercession he reminds Jehovah of His own words He had spoken to him when on the mountain (Exodus 34:5-9). And upon this magnificent intercession Jehovah said, “I have pardoned according to thy word.” Another, our ever blessed Lord, has secured forgiveness for His shining people. Grace now reigns through righteousness. Connected with this forgiveness is the divine declaration that the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. The grace which has secured pardon will yet establish glory on this earth. In spite of Israel’s failure and the failure of man in this dispensation of grace, glory must ultimately cover this earth. This will be in the day when our Lord is revealed in all His glory. The measure of Israel’s sin is full. They had tempted the Lord ten times (Exod. 14:11-12; 15:23-24; 16:2; 16:20; 16:27; 17:1-3; 22; Numbers 11:1, Num_11:4, Num_14:2). The divine sentence is pronounced. “Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, and all that were numbered among you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me.” Only Caleb and Joshua are an exception. Up to now they had been pilgrims, but now they became wanderers (verse 33). The ten spies were carried away by the plague. Their unbelief resulted in the disaster which came upon all the people as they were the first witnesses of the divine displeasure. “They could not enter in because of unbelief’ (Hebrews 3:19). And Christendom in its failure to lay hold in faith of the heavenly calling and heavenly possession, has lost its pilgrim character and has become the wanderer, minding earthly things. Another failure follows. The divine sentence pronounced upon them resulted in mourning and a lip-confession, we have sinned.” True repentance and self-judgment there was not. They tried to make their error good in their own strength and they attempted to go up without the ark and without Moses. “Whereas at first they had refused to enter upon the conflict with the Canaanites through their unbelief in the might of the promise of God, now, through unbelief in the severity of the judgment of God, they resolved to engage in the conflict by their own power, and without the help of God, and to cancel the old sin of unbelieving despair through the new sin of presumptuous confidence” (Dr. F. Delitzsch). And Christendom, stripped of its power, tries to meet the giants of sin and wickedness in the same way, only to suffer defeat in all their attempts.