“You will all drop dead in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, every one of you who is twenty years old or older and was included in the registration will die. You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.” Numbers 14:29-30
Nothing like a warm-hearted verse to start your day out right! Yes–this is one of those passages in Scripture that fail to give us warm fuzzies, but it does present some powerful biblical truth.
God makes the above statement to the first generation of Israelites right after they refused to cross the Jordan River and inherit the Land. These are the ones who saw God’s mighty hand, powerful plagues, unmatched compassion, and unrelenting providence. Yet, as they stand on the eastern bank of the Jordan, they refuse to believe that God will give them what He swore to give them.
Twenty years old. Interesting.
A quick study of that age in the Old Testament reveals:
- This is the age when they were considered men — it was time for them to contribute to the social and spiritual life of the nation.
- This is the age when they became warriors, armed for battle.
- This is the age when Levites were supposed to start their service in the tabernacle and temple.
In Numbers 14:29, we also realize that this is the age that God holds someone personally accountable for what decisions they make and what they do with their life. Everyone twenty years and older will die in the wilderness because they failed to honor God by stepping out in faith. Only Joshua and Caleb did this. No one else–and they will ALL be held accountable.
God has high expectations for us early in life.
Enough of sowing of “wild oats.” Away with the excesses of young adult-hood. Forget the excuses of inexperience and unrestrained compulsions. God has high expectations for us early in life.
For me, way past the age of twenty, this is a kick in the butt! It shouts at me saying, “Your life matters! Your decisions matter! God is to be honored! Live it now!” If God has high expectations for twenty year olds, He must have even higher ones for fifty-somethings. Yikes!
Don’t get me wrong. God isn’t standing over any of us with a club ready to whack us when we get out of line. Our God is characterized by grace, love, compassion, and understanding. BUT–let’s not take that too far. He expects us to honor Him. He has a right to demand this. The price paid for us is stunning–Jesus Himself as our payment. The same God who inflicted judgement on hard-hearted, faithless, and dishonoring Israelites long ago is the same God who says to us today, “Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, ‘Life is not pleasant anymore,'” Ecclesiastes 12:1-2.
God has high expectations for us early in life…and later in life, too.