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Disobedience has consequences. Raising our four children I often think of the hymn, “Trust and Obey.” The refrain says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.” Our 4-year-old knows these lyrics well, as he’s often reminded, “If you disobey then there will be a consequence. We’re always happier when we choose to obey.” Sometimes the consequences of disobedience can be painful. A friend tells of a family vacation to Florida. Her daughter wanted to come back home with a perfect bronze tan, but the vacation was only a few days long. Against her mom’s clear advice, the girl decided to skip the sunscreen and spent the entire first day on the beach under a cloudless sky. Of course, that’s all it took for her to get a sunburn that kept her in agony for days. “I tried to tell her,” my friend said to me, “but sometimes you just have to learn the hard way.”
During the Israelites’ trek through the wilderness, they went through repeated cycles of disobedience, followed by God’s anger being stirred and Moses intervening on behalf of the people. Over and over again God was merciful, withholding the punishment they clearly deserved. But when we come to Numbers 14, God has had enough and declares judgment. “But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it” (Numbers...
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