Numbers 14.27-34 – Fear of the Lord
Posted: 8 July 2010 in Numbers

How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. 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 carcases 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. Doubtless ye 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 your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.

The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. That is not a thought which tends to play an overly large part in religious thinking today. But we should not lose site of the fact that the Bible reveals God as both the merciful Father who brings undeserving sinners to salvation, and also as the sovereign Lord who insists upon his transcendent holiness.

After spies had returned from scouting out the land of Canaan, and had brought a generally good report, the Israelites decided that they would nevertheless prefer not to obey God, but would instead prefer to return to Egypt. The above passage gives God’s response, and we are left in no doubt that disobedience has consequences so far as God is concerned.

Without that knowledge, any sense of awe in the presence of God would quickly evaporate, and with it the reverence which must be at the heart of all valid worship. Being the sinful creatures that we are, if sin did not have the potential for unpleasant consequences, we would soon adopt a lackadaisical attitude towards God, and more or less do as we liked; paying God little more than lip service, and perhaps not even that.

As much as we may deplore the fact that we cannot be sufficiently motivated by love for God, unless there is also a fear of God, it nevertheless remains a fact that we are fallen creatures.

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