Today's devotion from Numbers 13 and 14.
When the spies come back, they carry with them more than just a report of the land. They carry with them the hopes and dreams of the entire nation in the form of luscious fruit (vs.26). They carry with them the verification of God's word, "Indeed it is flowing with milk and honey." (vs. 27). They also carry the seed of the Enemy's lie.
As with almost everything Satan does, we see the statement is simultaneously a lie and the truth. The people of the land are, in fact, stronger than they are. However, when has any part of God's plan relied on Israel's strength? In fact, the miraculous aspect of the Exodus has been God's strength in glaring contrast to their weakness, frailty, and inability.
These men paid with their lives (vss. 36-37), but an entire generation would hear the most tragic words that could ever be heard: turn back. Could you imagine? There, on the threshold of God's promise, with the evidence of it in their hands, they allowed the faithless fear of ten men to rob them, an entire generation of Israelites, of the blessing of God.
All this was accomplished because the Enemy knows a secret: we would rather accept a half-truth than a full-faith. We talk about the rebellion of the people and their unwillingness to enter the Promised Land, but it is much worse than that. Read Numbers 14:5-10 again. The people were on their way to stone Moses and Aaron, men who had served them faithfully and been instrumental in their freedom and victories thus far, while they were praying for the people.
This is how quickly and resolutely fickle hearts can turn. Yet, even in this low moment God was gracious. His mercy was immeasurable, but it was not without its limits. Turn back tomorrow. They will have their way. They will die in the wilderness with the exceptions of a few.
This reveals the sad truth that sin is not a minor thing. It carries consequences that can last a lifetime. Yet, even in that the most merciful thing God could say to these people was, "Turn back tomorrow." Even though they had rebelled and deserved nothing from Him, He made a promise to their children. His plan would not be so easily thwarted.