“And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:” Numbers 14:20-23
Ten times! I was struck this morning by the nature of God’s accounting. It is specific. It is detailed. It is exacting. His records are complete, and those who stand before His judgment are without excuse. He knows all things.
The context of this declaration is the occasion when the 12 spies, having been sent into the Promised Land to prepare the way for Israel’s entrance, gave two conflicting reports of what they saw. Ten saw the giants in the land and concluded that the challenges were greater than the blessings, provoking fear in all the brethren; two saw the end of God’s promise and enthusiastically encouraged their brethren to proceed in faith. So, like all of us, the children of Israel had a choice: faith or fear. They chose fear, which is to say they rejected God and His promises in favor of the counsel of unbelieving men. In fact, their rejection of God was so complete that they attempted to stone God’s messengers, the two faithful spies who had encouraged them to trust in the LORD, Joshua and Caleb.
It is at this point that God tells Moses, “I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them….” (14:12) and Moses intercedes for the people by reminding Him of the glory He had shown to Moses when He had placed him in the cleft in the rock: “The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and [but] by no means clearing the guilty, ….” (14:18) True to His word, the Lord promises to pardon Israel according to Moses’ intercession, i.e., not bring on the people the pestilence of judgment, AND to not clear the guilty. Israel’s reaping for its sowing disobedience and unbelief: exclusion from the Promised Land and death in the wilderness.
But what of the “ten times?” Some commentators believe they can count 10 actual times Israel tempted God by disregarding His word and refusing to trust in Him. Others believe that the number 10 represents a “complete” work, i.e., they had “fully” tempted God, had brought Him to the end of His “patience.” However, there may be another way to view this which will make it even more personal.
One might consider the possibility that the “ten times” is also referring specifically to the ten spies, i.e., that God accounted their ten denials of His grace not as a “consensus” denial of the group, but as ten individual denials, ten individual sins. This view brings us face to face with the sober reality that God’s records are complete and detailed. That mankind is not under some sort of “generalized heavenly watch” which might allow individuals to somehow “hide” from God’s omniscience among the myriads of humans walking about in sins and trespasses. Rather, this would make even clearer the humbling truth that each of us is being observed and examined individually in preparation for our final judgment: the Believer before the judgment seat of Christ upon the rapture of the Church, and the unbeliever at the “great white throne” judgment which will follow the great tribulation period at the end of this present age.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which was in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” Revelation 20:12, 13
If you are a true born gain Believer, are you ready to stand before your Savior? Are you abiding in Him so that, as the apostle John exhorts us, “when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28)? If not, then claim the promise given through this same apostle, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Are you religious? Do you claim Christ as Lord with your lips, yet your life still reflects a love for the world with its attractions and lusts? “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Corinthians 13:5a). Being religious is not enough. You must be saved. Don’t get caught in the deceit of putting your hope in personal, external reformation or man-centered religion. If there has been no life-changing transformation of your life, you are at risk of standing before the Lord without hope.
True salvation results in new life, internally and externally.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Mere religious profession and practice without saving, God-honoring faith is vain, an offense to God, and a demeaning of the finished work His Son completed on the cross.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21-23
If you clearly do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, consider your end. If even the sincerely religious-but-lost of the world cannot stand before the Lord, how will you? When the book that contains the specific details of the sinful works of your life is brought to the Judge and each one is judged by the standard of His holy righteousness, when you are required to answer for “every idle word” you have spoken in unbelief (Matthew 12:36), what will you say? I know what you’ll say: nothing! You will be silent, without excuse.
It doesn’t have to be like that. Today is the day of salvation. Today God offers you His mercy and grace though belief, that is, sincere trust in the cross work of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God “who taketh away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29
Do you hear the Spirit calling you? Then come. Trust in the Savior today. He is your only hope to escape the wrath to come. But He is a sure hope, an everlasting hope. Come to Him today. He will not turn you away.
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