“When Moshe told these things to all the people of Israel, the people felt great remorse. They arose early the next morning, came up to the top of the mountain and said, “Here we are, and we did sin, but now we’ll go up to the place Adonai promised.” Moshe answered, “Why are you opposing what Adonai said? You won’t succeed! Don’t go up there, because Adonai isn’t with you. If you do, your enemies will defeat you.”-Numbers 14:39-42
Let me ask you this.
When you were a kid, have your parents ever ordered you to do something that you initially refused but then later after thinking it over decided to obey after all?
Maybe you were ordered to clean your room, do your homework, or do the dishes or whatever.
At first you said “No” and then gave some lame excuse as to why you weren’t going to obey.
Maybe you said you were tired or that you’d do it later or maybe you’d even outright lied and said you had already finished whatever task you were commanded to do.
Whatever reason you gave for disobeying, deep down inside you knew your excuse was BS.
And as a result, that little voice of guilt living inside you kept tormenting your conscience until you finally repented and then after some time passed you finally went ahead and did what you were originally commanded to do.
Afterwards, your parents were happy and praised you for being such a good son or daughter.
Now this is kind of similar to the situation we’re dealing with in the closing verses of Numbers Chapter 14.
But notice I said “kind of” similar.
Because in a very important way it is NOT similar.
The people of Israel had rebelled against the Lord’s command to take Canaan.
As punishment for their lack of trust and defiance, the Lord told the people they would now be barred from entering the Promised Land.
Feeling guilty and remorseful, the people decided to go ahead and do what the Lord originally commanded them to do anyway.
Even Moses warned them: “You won’t succeed! Don’t go up there, because Adonai isn’t with you.”
Here’s the problem.
God never gave the people alternative options.
And He’s not a human like our parents who when seeing that we had decided to obey after all would welcome us back with open arms, not for this specific opportunity anyway.
What the people needed to fully understand is that when God declares something, that’s it.
There is no going back.
There is no wishy-washiness in His decisions.
Has the Lord ever presented an opportunity to you and you responded by saying “I’ll do it tomorrow“.
Don’t do it.
Because the great lesson we need to takeaway from this is that an opportunity the Lord presents to us that is rejected will NOT be presented again.
It kind of reminds me of that scene from The Godfather, where the godfather’s consigliere Tom Hagen tries to explain to a big shot movie producer that the godfather “never asks a second favor when he’s been refused the first“.
Along the same lines, when we refuse to take advantage of divine opportunities being presented to us, the doors to those opportunities will close and once closed, that’s it.
Only God knows how many mountains of blessings we may have passed over.
This is a lesson the people had yet to learn because we’re told they ignored God and went ahead with an attempted attack on Canaan anyway.
Israel was thoroughly trounced.
Again, you’ve got to understand that it’s one thing to go forward on a mission with God’s blessing and it’s quite another to attempt the same mission when the window of opportunity has closed.
Again, God is NOT a man and He will NOT change His mind, period.
Don’t try to pry open a window that God had opened for you but has now closed due to your faithlessness and lack of trust.
Don’t say, let me just commit this sin just one last time and then from tomorrow I won’t do it anymore.
Don’t say I’ll give money for this project when my financial situation is a bit more stable.
The Israelites tried to pry open a window of opportunity that God had already closed and boy did they pay a big price for their reckless behavior.
Let’s try to learn from their mistakes.