HOW LONG ERE YOU BELIEVE
Numbers 14:11 And the Lord said unto Moses, how long will this people provoke Me? And how long will it be ere they believe Me, for all the signs which I have showed among them?
This discourse took place as the Israelites journeyed toward the Promised Land after coming out of Egyptian bondage. They had been wondering in the wilderness for approximately one year and were currently in an area known as the Wilderness of Paran. The Lord told Moses to select one man from every tribe of Israel and send them to search out the land of Canaan. They were to bring back information about what kind of land it was - how it was situated, its terrain, its natural advantages or disadvantages. They were to also observe the people of the land - whether they were strong or weak. Also they were to notice the soil of the country - was it rich or poor and what kind of trees and crops were growing on it? For proof, they were to bring back samples of the fruits of the land. Also, were the cities made up of tents for habitation or were their cities fortified with strong holds?
When the spies of the land returned, they brought back much fruit that attested to the good agricultural nature of the land. Their comment about the land of Canaan was, surely it floweth with milk and honey(Numbers 13:27). However, the spies reported that the land was inhabited with giants and much stronger then they were. Compared to them, they were as grasshoppers (Numbers 13:33).
This report caused the Israelites to cry out against Moses and Aaron for bringing them out of Egypt to, what they considered to be, a sure death by the hands of the giants of Canaan. However, two of the twelve spies, Joshua and Caleb, encouraged Israel to proceed into Canaan. They assured them that the Lord would bring Israel safely into this land that flowed with milk and honey. They told Israel not to fear the people that inhabited the land. They were told, the Lord is with us, fear them not (Numbers 14:9). At this point Israel rebelled and would have stoned Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb had not the Lord intervened. Here the Lord asks the question noted in the text, how long will it be ere they believe Me?
At this time God wanted them to go into and possess the land of Canaan - the land He promised to them. But they rebelled, saying, that it would be sure death to go into the land. God is saying believe in Me. But the Israelites lacked faith that God would guide and protect them in their conquest of the land of Canaan.
These are the same people that cried out to God while they were in oppressive Egyptian bondage - the same people whose voice God heard and brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs and with wonders (Deuteronomy 26:8). This is the same God that destroyed the earth with a great flood; that also destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. This is the same God that parted the Red Sea and allowed Israel to pass safely to the other side and slew their pursuers; that sent ten plagues on Egypt; that fed them with manna during their wilderness wonderings.
Bible scholars today shake their heads and say, "With all these signs and wonders, why didn't the Israelites believe in God?" "They say that if we were them, we would have believed in God's protection, guidance and salvation."
Yet, today, the world, in general, refuses to trust in God and to believe in His word. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Do you believe that Jesus was sent to earth to offer all people of the world the remission of sins and to fulfill God's plan of salvation? Do you believe that if you are obedient to the will of God that you will be given an eternal home in Heaven? Do you believe that if you are disobedient, you will be condemned to eternal punishment? Do you believe that you must love God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself?
If not, God is asking you today, as he asked the children of Israel, How long will it be ere you believe?