Life-Study of Deuteronomy, by Witness Lee

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The children of Israel had a great failure at Kadesh-barnea (Deut. 1:19-46; 2:14-15). This failure caused "all the generation of the men of war" to be "consumed from the midst of the camp" (2:14).

A. Because of Their Unbelief
toward God and toward His Promise

The failure of the children of Israel at Kadesh-barnea was due to their unbelief toward God and toward His promise (1:32, 35). God is faithful, and His word, which is His promise, cannot fail. But the people believed neither in God nor in His promise. Their unbelief offended God.

B. In Spite of God’s Carrying Them

In 1:31 Moses said, "In the wilderness, where you have seen that Jehovah your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place." God had carried the people through the terrible wilderness from the mount of God to Kadesh-barnea. But in spite of God’s carrying them, the children of Israel did not believe in Him or in His promise.

C. All the Unbelieving Ones
Being Consumed in the Wilderness
in the Wandering of Thirty-eight Years

All the unbelieving ones were consumed in the wilderness in the wandering of thirty-eight years (2:14-15). This shows us that it is a terrible thing not to believe in God. We need to be careful concerning unbelief.

D. Only Caleb and Joshua Being Exceptions

All the men of war perished with the exception of only Caleb and Joshua (1:36-38).

E. Unbelief Causing Disobedience to God

In 1:41-45 we see that unbelief caused disobedience to God. The reason we do not obey God is that we do not believe in Him. Unbelief is the cause of our disobedience to God.

The New Testament ministry is a ministry of faith, and the New Testament word is a word of faith. Thus we begin our Christian life and church life by faith. Without faith we cannot live either the Christian life or the church life. Unbelief damages us and leads to tragedy.

With respect to believing in God we should forget our past, but with respect to knowing God and ourselves we should remember our past. A proper review of our past will help us to no longer trust ourselves but to put our trust absolutely in God. Through reviewing the past we may learn the lesson of not having any trust in ourselves. We are nothing more than an unbelieving self, and all we have is flesh. Therefore, we must learn to reject the self and the flesh and put our trust altogether in God, the One who is faithful and whose words can never fail.

(Life-Study of Deuteronomy, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)