Ingratitude and a National Crisis of Imagination

Numbers 13:1-3, 25-33 (NIV)

1     The Lord said to Moses,

2     “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

3     So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites.

25   At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.

26   They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.

27   They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.

28   But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.

29   The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

30   Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

31   But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”

32   And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.

33   We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Numbers 14:1-4, 11 NIV

1     That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.

2     All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert!

3     Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

4     And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

11   The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?

  1. God can want better for a nation than they want for themselves
  2. By rejecting God’s best, a nation chooses to bring bad things on themselves
  3. Ingratitude impairs people’s ability to imagine new possibilities in the face of new challenges.
  4. National and/or social failure is a crisis of imagination; a distorted and dangerous form of group thinking controlled or stirred up by a small number of people

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