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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. To-morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.”
Moses and Aaron were then directed to let the children of Israel know these purposes of God; to tell them that he had heard their murmurings, and would do unto them according to their own words, when they so wickedly cried out; "Would God we had died in this wilderness." 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 carcasses 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,
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
little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which
To this it was added, that their children should wander in the wilderness forty years, on account of the transgressions of their fathers; and that, after the number of the days in which they had searched the land, each day for a year, the Israelites should bear their iniquities. They would thus learn, by
their own sad experience, that having so often broken the covenant, the promises of God, (so far as they were concer
cerned,) would not be carried into effect, but his just judgments fall heavily upon them. "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.”
This was a fearful expression of the displeasure of God against the peculiar sins of the Israelites,unbelief and murmuring against him! For these sins they were cut off from admission into the land of promise. They could not enter in because of unbelief.”
A heavenly Canaan, a blessed land of rest in the presence of God, with all who are redeemed through the blood of Christ, is offered to those who believe in him. His sincere followers are approaching it daily. They may be on its very borders. The close of a short and uncertain life, will introduce them to its unspeakable joys! Let them wait, in cheerful expectation, for the coming of their Lord, and be ready to go up and take possession of the promised inheritance.
Are you ready, my young friend ?. Forget not. the exhortation of the apostle ;-" Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. Exhort one another daily while it is called to-day, lest
any you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.”
Many of the Israelites destroyed, while attacking the
Canaanites. They turn back into the wilderness.
Although the great body of the Israelites escaped, at this time, the judgment of God in their immediate destruction; a signal example was made of the ten spies, who, by their false reports, Lad led the people to murmur against him. They were struck dead on the spot; an awful exhibition of divine justice to the thousands that witnessed it, and of the guilt of those who, by treachery and deceit, had violated the momentous trust which was reposed in them. Joshua and Caleb, on the contrary, lived long afterwards to enjoy the divine favor, and be conspicuous among their countrymen ;
striking illustrations of the wisdom of exercising an unshaken confidence in God, and of adhering to the principles of truth and righteousness.
It must have been a season of dismay and sad ness throughout the camp of the Israelites. We are told, that when Moses made known to them the denunciations of Jehovah, they mourned greatly. Alas, there is too much reason to fear, that with most of them, it was a sorrow which was not accompanied with any true humiliation before God for their sins, or purposes of future obedience !
They hoped, however, that their mourning might avail to appease the displeasure of Jehovah, and produce a change of his sentence against them. Early the ensuing morning, they came to Moses, and acknowledging that they had sinned against the Lord, said, " We will go up and fight according to all that the Lord our God commanded us.” They girded on their weapons, and ascending the mountain which they would have to pass on their way, declared themselves ready to go on, and meet the enemies that might oppose them.
But the decree of the Almighty had gone forth, and was not to be reversed. Besides, it was a most presumptuous step on their part, thus to move forward without any divine direction to that effect. They were proceeding, too, in opposition to the express declaration of God, that they should never enter the promised land, and in violation of his orders, that on this very day they should turn back, and go again into the wilderness.
Moses immediately received a command from God, to say to the Israelites; "Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you;
be smitten before your enemies.” But they disregarded the injunction and the earnest expostulations of Moses. He himself remained in the camp, nor would he suffer the ark of the covenant to accompany them. They rushed madly forward ; and the Amorites who dwelt in the mountain, with the Amalekites, and the Canaanites, came upon them, and overcoming them, put great numbers of them to death. The remainder, fleeing before their enemies, returned in dismay and confusion to the camp. And, again, the people wept and mourned, and would fain endeavor by their lamentations to escape the punishment which had been pronounced upon them. They vainly hoped to be spared a return to the great and terrible wilderness, and the endurance of its hardships and dangers until it should become to them, one after another, the place of graves. But divine justice must take effect; and sad and sorrowing, the whole body of the Israelites were once more marshalled, and in motion towards the dreary regions which they had just left. Melancholy result of unbelief and disobedience! The object of their long and wearisome journeyings, as it were, in full view before them; and they obliged