Moses Part 20

Moses, the man of God

A study

Part 20

Bitter disappointment at Kadesh-barnea

Numbers 13 & 14, Deut.1: 19 – 46

About one and one half years after being redeemed from the bondage of Egypt, the children of Israel arrived at Kadesh-barnea, which is on the borders of the land of Canaan. The end of an era was at hand. Till then the descendants of Abraham were “strangers” in relation to this Land. (Gen.17: 8, 28: 4, Exo.6: 4) But now their sojourn was about to end, and they were ready to enter in and take possession of the Land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

MATURITY and IMMATURITY of faith at the END of the Journey

Twelve spies were sent into the Land to obtain a report concerning the Land and its inhabitants. After traversing the Land for forty days and forty nights they appeared before Moses, Aaron and the congregation of Israel to give their report. Their report contained positive and negative aspects. The Land was truly a land flowing with “milk and honey,” but the inhabitants were strong and they dwelled in walled cities. Then Caleb stilled the people and said, “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Num.13: 30) Within Caleb and Joshua’s thinking concerning the matter, the strength of the Land’s inhabitants was not the issue. Rather that which God had promised and God’s faithfulness to carry out His promises through His strength was the only issue with them. They believed that God will bring them into the Land and give it to them (Numb.14: 8), ultimately effecting the fulfillment of Gen.12: 2, 3. The other ten spies presented an opposing report. They said, “We will not be able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we (Num.13: 31-33) They were in essence saying that God would be unable to complete His dealings with Israel through bringing this nation into a realisation of their calling. The people of Israel chose to believe the ten spies and their evil report. This national apostasy resulted in the nation being overthrown in the wilderness. The entire accountable generation, twenty years and above, except Caleb and Joshua, was caused to wander in the wilderness for another 38½ years, until every individual in that generation had died. (Deut.2: 14,15, Jude 5, Heb.3: 19)


To properly understand the significance of this event, which occurred at the END of their journey, we must compare it with the BEGINNING of their journey, and also their WALK through the wilderness. This journey of the Israelites is used in the New Testament to teach important lessons for us. (1Cor.10: 5,6,11)

Let us look at the three parts of their journey, 1) The BEGINNING of their journey, 2) The actual JOURNEY through the wilderness and 3) The END of their journey. Before they began their journey, the Israelites were suffering helplessly as slaves under Pharaoh in Egypt. Pharaoh, king of Egypt did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with heavy burdens and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage. God heard the groanings of the children of Israel, and He promised three things to them through Moses. (1) I am the Lord and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I WILL REDEEM YOU with an outstretched arm and with great judgements (2) And I WILL TAKE YOU to me for a people, and I will be to you a God (3) And I WILL BRING YOU IN UNTO THE LAND, concerning which I did swear to give to Abraham, to Issac and to Jacob; I am the Lord. (Exo.6: 6-8)

The first part of the above promise of the Lord to the Israelites relates to the starting point of their wilderness journey. It was the day on which, by SIMPLE FAITH, they killed the Passover Lamb, applied the blood and were brought out of the bondage of Egypt. Here God did not look into their life but was fully satisfied with the Lamb, which was killed instead of them as their substitute. (Exo.12: 12,13)

The second part relates to their actual journey through the wilderness. God was with them throughout this journey, caring for them, protecting and guiding them. They had the opportunity to EXERCISE THEIR FAITH. They were expected to hear His voice and be obedient to Him. They were to understand His will and yield to Him. Though they disobeyed and provoked Him many times, God bore with them and forgave them and restored His fellowship with them whenever they repented and cried unto Him. (Psa.78: 38)

And the third part relates to the end of their wilderness journey. This is described by the events that took place at Kadesh-barnea. All those who did not properly exercise their faith during their journey, did not possess a MATURE FAITH, and were found to be unfit to enter into their Promised Land. (Numb.32: 11) Only Caleb and Joshua were allowed to enter their Promised Land, because they possessed “another spirit” and they “wholly followed” the Lord throughout their journey. (Numb.32: 12, Duet.1: 36, Josh.14: 8,9,14)


These three parts of their journey correspond to the three distinct aspects of salvation, which the Lord wants to accomplish in you and me today. To understand these aspects, let us carefully examine (1) the point of our salvation (2) our subsequent pilgrim walk and finally (3) our future entry into the kingdom of the heavens. God deals on entirely different principles on each of these three sections.

At (1) the point of our salvation we believed that the Lord Jesus Christ bore our punishment and died in our place as our perfect substitute. (John 3: 16, Eph.2: 8,9) God honored our SIMPLE FAITH and redeemed us. He did not find any goodness or worthiness in us, but He delivered us from the bondage of sin and Satan. God saw only one thing, the precious blood of the Lamb of God, and was fully satisfied.

Immediately after this (2) our pilgrim walk began. God took us to be His own people and started to lead us and guide us, through His Spirit and His Word. We have all the opportunities to EXERCISE OUR FAITH. But, on the contrary, many a times we neglect His Word and disobey Him, because we want to go by the wisdom of this world. We don’t want to suffer for Him. We often fear the people around us because of the lack of our faith on Him. We do not do those things, which are pleasing to Him, because we want to fulfill our own desires. Consequently we remain immature in our faith, and our nature does not undergo any transformation. Only those who are always obedient to Him, paying the cost, grow on to maturity and be transformed into His image. (Matt.7: 21, Eph.4: 30, James 2: 17,20,26)

Finally when we appear before our Lord, we will be seeing Him as the King of kings, in all His power and great glory. That will be the day of (3) our future entry into the Kingdom of the Heavens. (Matt.16: 27, 2Cor.5: 10, Rom.14: 10,12, Rev.22: 12) If we had not been exercising our faith, during our pilgrim walk after our salvation, we will remain immature and unfit to enter into His Kingdom and partake in His power and glory in the coming Millennial Era. (Rom.8: 17, 2Tim.2: 12, Rev.3: 21) Though the Israelites had been delivered from the bondage of Egypt, they were unfit to enter into Canaan. Similarly, though we are delivered from eternal condemnation, we will be unfit to enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens.


Thus the bitter disappointment of the Children of Israel at Kadesh-barnea is a very great warning for you and me. We should constantly look forward to the imminent glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ, and always wholeheartedly love Him and obey Him during our present pilgrim walk on the earth.

The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” (Rev.3: 11)

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