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their own sad experience, that having so often broken the covenant, the promises of God, (so far as they were concerned,) would not be carried into effect, but his just judgments fall heavily upon them. "I the Lord have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.”
This was a fearful expression of the displeasure of God against the peculiar sins of the Israelites,-unbelief and murmuring against him! For these sins they were cut off from admission into the land of promise." They could not enter in because of unbelief.”
A heavenly Canaan, a blessed land of rest in the presence of God, with all who are redeemed through the blood of Christ, is offered to those who believe in him. His sincere followers are approaching it daily. They may be on its very borders. The close of a short and uncertain life, will introduce them to its unspeakable joys! Let them wait, in cheerful expectation, for the coming of their Lord, and be ready to go up and take possession of the promised inheritance.
Are you ready, my young friend ? Forget not the exhortation of the apostle ;—"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. Exhort one another daily while it is called to-day, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."
Many of the Israelites destroyed, while attacking the
Canaanites. They turn back into the wilderness.
Although the great body of the Israelites escaped, at this time, the judgment of God in their immediate destruction; a signal example was made of the ten spies, who, by their false reports, had led the people to murmur against him. They were struck dead on the spot; an awful exhibition of divine justice to the thousands that witnessed it, and of the guilt of those who, by treachery and deceit, had violated the momentous trust which was reposed in them. Joshua and Caleb, on the contrary, lived long afterwards to enjoy the divine favor, and be conspicuous among their countrymen; striking illustrations of the wisdom of exercising an unshaken confidence in God, and of adhering to the principles of truth and righteousness.
It must have been a season of dismay and sad. ness throughout the camp of the Israelites. We are told, that when Moses made known to them the denunciations of Jehovah, they mourned greatly. Also, there is too much reason to fear, that with most of them, it was a sorrow which was not ac: companied with any true humiliation before God for their sins, or purposes of future obedience !
They hoped, however, that their mourning might avail to appease the displeasure of Jehovah, and produce a change of his sentence against them. Early the ensuing morning, they came to Moses, and acknowledging that they had sinned against the, Lord, said, “ We will go up and fight according to all that the Lord our God commanded us." They girded on their weapons, and ascending the mountain which they would have to pass on their way, declared themselves ready to go on, and meet the enemies that might oppose them.
But the decree of the Almighty had gone forth, and was not to be reversed. Besides, it was a most presumptuous step on their part, thus to move forward without any divine direction to that effect. They were proceeding, too, in opposition to the express declaration of God, that they should never, enter the promised land, and in violation of his or.
ders, that on this very day they should turn back, and go again into the wilderness.
Moses immediately received a command from God, to say to the Israelites; Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you ; lest ye be smitten before your enemies." But they disregarded the injunction and the earnest expostulations of Moses. He himself remained in the camp, nor would he suffer the ark of the covenant to accompany them. They rushed madly forward ; and the Amorites who dwelt in the mountain, with the Amalekites, and the Canaanites, came upon them, and overcoming them, put great numbers of them to death. The remainder, fleeing before their enemies, returned in dismay and confusion to the camp. And, again, the people wept and mourned, and would fain endeavor by their lamentations to escape the punishment which had been pronounced upon them. They vainly hoped to be spared a return to the great and terrible wilderness, and the endurance of its hardships and dangers until it should become to them, one after another, the place of graves. But divine justice must take effect; and sad and to take their last look of the land of promise with its anticipated blessings,-and then abandon it for ever!
For more than thirty-seven years, they traversed parts of the vast deserts which lie between Palestine and the peninsula of Sinai ; moving from place to place, and often, doubtless, retracing their steps, to find the best spots for water and pasturage. They probably sojourned, at tiines, in the great valley of the Ghor and Araba itself; extending their removals in the latter to its southern extremity, from mount Hor, (in Arabia Petræa, on the confines of Idumea,) to Ezion-Gaber, which was at the northern end of the Elanitic Gulf, near Akaba. Hence they removed northward, until, at last, in the first month of the fortieth year from their departure out of Egypt, they arrived again at Kadesh.
In the thirty-third chapter of Numbers, a list is given of various stations where the Israelites encamped during this long period of time; but the location of only two can be determined : that of Moseroth, adjacent to mount Hor, and of EzionGaber, near Akaba. We have, also, a very limited account of the transactions of the same period. Some ordinances were given respecting the offer ings and ceremonials of religion, the duties of the priests and Levites, the portion allowed them, the sacrifice of the red heifer, and the ways in which uncleanness might be contracted. A few occur