Vol.XIV No.II Pg.3
April 1977

A Time For Weeping

Dan S. Shipley

"And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night." (Num. 14:1) God's people have come to the threshold of the promised land. A little earlier, while giving Moses instructions concerning the sending of men to spy out Canaan, the Lord had reaffirmed His promise to give this great land to the children of Israel (13:2). You'd expect great rejoicing, yet we hear weeping. Why? Have they suffered defeat at the hands of enemies? Has the Lord just chastised them? Has He forsaken them? No, none of these. They have just heard the report of the spies returning from Canaan. They ignore the encouraging report from Caleb but are much impressed with what the fearful spies have to say about the enemies' strength, giants and grasshoppers. It truly was a sad time for God's people. But they were sad for the wrong reasons. Their weeping should have been over their own wretched condition and lack of faith.

It is a sad time when the people of God lose their faith; when they no longer trust the Lord. It is a sad time when men place more confidence in what men say than what God says. "And we see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief." (Heb. 3:19). What kept these Israelites out of the promised land can keep us out! "Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God...." (Heb. 3:12). Incredible as it may seem, many still do not believe what God says about many things--such as obedience, baptism, worship, the church, hell and other subjects. It is truly a time for weeping in Kadesh - Barnea, in our home towns or anywhere else when God's people don't care what He says; when they won't trust Him nor obey His will.

Also, it is a sad time when God's people despise faithful brethren. As they had done before, the Israelites began to murmur against Moses (14:2). When Joshua and Caleb sought to admonish their brethren, the were threatened with stoning (14:10. They learned what Moses already knew: that those who turn their backs on God may have little regard for those who will not. How deceitful is -sin when the sinner only despises those who want to help. Paul evidently recognizes this disposition when he asks, "am I become your enemy by telling you the truth?" (Gal. 4:16). It is a time for weeping when false teachers are honored and faithful preachers resented. We need to know what can keep us out of the promised land! Faithful men who will tell us our sins deserve our appreciation, not our wrath.

It is a sad time when God's people are overcome with discouragement. In hearing of the enemy as being greater and taller and having walled cities, the Israelites confessed, "our brethren have discouraged our heart" (Deut. 1:28). They had what some have called a "grasshopper" complex. Like their modern counterparts, they concluded, .,we can't succeed"; "we can't do it"; ..not even with God on our side." In many ways, we stand where they stood. We cannot be more than a few heartbeats from the promised land. Let's not be discouraged and turn back now! "If God be for us..."