Pride and punishment

Numbers 14.26-45

This note was originally published on Friday 4 February 2022.

So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say...’


It isn’t easy to read Bible passages about God’s judgement. Spend a few moments focusing on the cross of Christ, and give thanks that Jesus died in our place, taking the punishment we deserve.


Numbers 14.26-45


I was in my car, whining because I was stuck in a queue, late for a meeting, and in a foul mood. I honked my horn, twice. Imagine my horror when I turned the corner and saw the reason for the queue: a hearse bringing a coffin to church for a funeral!

The consequence of those angry honks hit me immediately, like the faithless spies’ punishment (v 37). But sometimes the consequences of our actions take time to be worked out, like the people’s punishment of forty years’ wandering in the wilderness (v 34).

The people ‘mourned bitterly’ that night (v 39), but had learned the wrong lesson; it wasn’t ‘you can win’, but ‘listen to the Lord your God’. Moses begged them not to go (v 41) – why? Because the people of the land were too strong for the Israelites (see 13:31) so they would lose without God fighting for them – and so they did (v 44,45). To listen to God and do what he says is a hard lesson to learn for proud people. That doesn’t include us though, does it?


Hebrews encourages us to heed the warning of the rebellion of these people& (Hebrews 3,4). Ask God to help you see if and how you have been ignoring something he’s been telling you to do or to stop.