Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Murmuring or Singing? (A Meditation on Numbers 14:1,2)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Meditation on Numbers 14: 1,2

Murmuring or Singing?

And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured...”

God’s people were standing at the border of Canaan, the promised land! This was a time for celebration and praise to the God who had delivered them from the bondage of Egypt and led them through the wilderness. They were right on the border of blessing. But they were faced with another crisis of faith. The twelve spies had returned from the land with vivid proof that the land was all God had promised it would be.

There was a majority report and a minority report. The majority report of the ten made no mention of God. Rather they reported: “The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitant thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

The minority report declared: “the land that we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it unto us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.”

Both reports acknowledged that the land will only be taken by fighting and conquest. Certainly, it would not be easy to conquer the land. It was not lying there vacant, ready to be taken. There were many and strong people there, and Israel could not simply walk in and possess it. They would have to fight. (In reality, there was no need for the spies to scout the land, but we read in Deuteronomy 1:21,22, when Moses set before the people the land that the LORD had promised them, they demanded of Moses to send men before them to search out the land. This was in itself an act of unbelief.) The first report was evil, because it was given with an evil purpose and great exaggeration. The report of the majority of the spies intended to impress one thing on the minds of the people. “We be not able to go up against the people” (Numb.13:3). It did not take into account the power of the unseen God. It did not remember the mighty deliverance out of Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the manna that fell from heaven, or the many deliverances the Lord had given them. The manna was still there, as was the cloud that still overshadows them by day or that blazes above them by night. We read that all the congregation cried, all of the people wept, all the children of Israel murmured. Theirs was the sin of self-pity, unbelief, and disobedience. They wish to die in the wilderness, or go back to the bondage of Egypt.

In contrast was the faith of men like Joshua and Caleb over against the unbelief of the rest of the children of Israel. We read “all the congregation cried” and “all the children of Israel murmured”. Of course, this does not refer to every individual. We know that there were those who did not murmur. There is always a small remnant such as those like Joshua and Caleb whose voices are drowned out by the noise of the whole. They speak of the glory and sureness of God’s promise and His help in the battles to come. For victory comes only by way of struggle and fighting. “They took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us…The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes” (Deut. 1:25,30). There was no need for fear or dismay, no reason to weep and wail. They were near the promised land. God was with them; he had fulfilled all his promises! Over against the lies of the ten spies, Caleb and Joshua bore witness to the truth. They warned the people not to rebel against the LORD. “The LORD is with us.”

Dear reader, do you today murmur in unbelief or sing praises in faith? What is your response when forced to stay home, or not able to work, or perhaps seeing your stock portfolio crumble? We are near the land of promise, heaven. Jesus is coming, coming soon. In the world, we can expect tribulation and trouble. The victory is gained not without a fight, the battle of faith. How are you dealing with the trial set before you? God is with His people. As He has so wonderfully delivered us in the past, led us all the way through our wilderness, do you cling and believe His promise? We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. We have a greater leader than Moses or Joshua. Our Lord Jesus has conquered sin, Satan, and death by His own death on the cross. He will give us the good land flowing with milk and honey! Sing and shout His praises. Stand firm in unwavering faith and hope. The LORD is with us: fear not! Not murmuring but singing!

Last modified on 11 May 2020
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Spriensma, Audred T.

Rev. Audred Spriensma (Wife: Alva)

Ordained: January 1981

Pastorates: Atwood, MI CRC - 1981; Bethany, S.Holland, IL CRC - 1984; Grandville, MI - 1992; Missionary to the Philippines - 2002; Kalamazoo, MI - 2007; Byron Center, MI - 2010; Home missionary (Byron Center PRC), 2017

Website: www.prca.org/missions/domestic

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