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The Discipline and Mercy of God

    When it came time to move from Sinai toward the promised land, God’s people followed wherever his cloud led them. But before long, their praise of God turned to a spirit of ingratitude. When they reached the southern edge of Canaan, a team of twelve men was sent on a forty-day mission to gather information about the land and its inhabitants. They returned with a mixed report. The land held bounty beyond their hopes but also powerful inhabitants. Ten of the twelve men saw certain defeat. Following their lead, the people cowered in fear, ready to kill Moses and return to Egypt. It was like slapping God in the face.

Then Moses said to the LORD, “...The LORD doesn’t become angry quickly, but he has great love. He forgives sin and law breaking. But the LORD never forgets to punish guilty people....’ By your great love, forgive these people’s sin, just as you have forgiven them from the time they left Egypt until now.”

The LORD answered, “I have forgiven them as you asked. But, as surely as I live and as surely as my glory fills the whole earth, I make this promise: All these men saw my glory and the miracles I did in Egypt and in the desert, but they disobeyed me and tested me ten times. So not one of them will see the land I promised to their ancestors. No one who rejected me will see that land.”
NUMBERS 14:15, 18-23

    God was ready to destroy these self-centered, unfaithful people, but Moses intervened. He appealed to God on their behalf, and God was moved. Instead of destroying his people, he disciplined them severely. Because of their lack of trust in him, they were banned from the Promised Land and confined to the desert for forty years, giving them lots of time to think about their rejection of God. Because of their sin, God kept them in the desert long enough to bury the generation who had lived in Egypt. Then he led their sons and daughters into the promised homeland.

Reflection: The people possibly never knew the times Moses saved them from God’s judgment. Moses’ relationship with God, like Abraham’s, allowed him to speak one-on-one with the Almighty and seek a change in his plans. Although God seldom rescues his people from the consequences of their behavior, he never fails to forgive their guilt when they turn back to him. He is the perfect image of a Father who disciplines, Forgives, and accepts his children with a tender, understanding heart, and he is always available to those who listen to his call and his claim on their lives.

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Related Heartlight Resources:
A Tale of Two Grasshoppers
Praying with Paul, April 15
Related External Pages:
Faith in Families

About the Author...
Ron Rose is a noted author and Director of Faith in Families. For more details, click here.

Title: "The Discipline and Mercy of God"
Author: Ron Rose
Publication Date: May 9, 2000



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