In his prayer, Hezekiah said, “Lord, I beseech Thee to remember how I have walked before Thee in truth,” and as man’s daily life or walk in part consists of what he says, the words he utters, let us ask, “What about your words?” What kind of a report are you bringing back by your words? When those spies returned, ten of them said, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched, unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”
These words were spoken publicly and mark well the result: “And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God, that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us into this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.” A whole nation was turned away from entering the promised land. Canaan, in the Bible, symbolizes the sanctified life. Here were just ten men who, by their actions and words, turned a whole nation back from entering that country to which they had been traveling; a country that God had long promised them; a country for which they had left all that was home to them; a country towards which they had been journeying with their families and all their possessions.
They were right on the border; they could go no further without entering; and they were waiting on the report of those sent on to spy out the land. All were anxious to enter and at last gain that for which they had long sought. But alas! upon their return the ten said, “It is no use; we cannot possess it. It is a goodly land, flowing with milk and honey, abounding with fruit and very pleasant; but we are not able to possess it.” Disappointed, defeated and discouraged, they all began murmuring. What a picture we have here of many places in this day and age. An awakening takes place and many are converted and set out toward that “goodly land.” God pardons the sinner of his sins, and regenerates his soul. What for? That that soul, born with a devilish “twist” or “prone-to-wander” nature in his bosom, called the carnal mind, might, by the consecration of all his redeemed faculties and self to God, through faith, be cleansed from that inward power, and, being made perfectly free, enter that “goodly land” of full salvation and serve God with all his heart.
Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and as the children of Israel had not reached their inheritance until they entered Canaan, so no soul has obtained that for which Jesus died until it is cleansed from all sin, and is made pure and holy in God’s sight. In due course of time they are led up to Kadesh-barnea, the border land, and are about to enter. Sometimes a whole congregation are right at the border, but all eyes turn upon some of the principal men in the church. If they go in, the whole congregation would soon be crowding the altars, seeking to enter in. But alas! with a lack of faith and trust in God, those few draw back. All they can see are the difficulties. They forget the God who has led them along the way, blessed them so many times, given them food and water, and protected them in a thousand ways. They forget His mighty power and His promises, and draw back and begin to talk against the experience, with the consequences that many, having come to the light, are influenced not to seek to enter into the experience, and backslide and lose all they had gained. God’s chosen leaders, seeing the awful results, cry out against it, and seek to urge the people not to retreat, but to mind God and walk in the light. But because they disobey and grieve Him, who had done so much for them, God withdraws His Holy Spirit, and they turn on these very leaders that were endeavoring to lead them into the greatest blessing God has for a human soul while it remains in the body.
A few, a very few, who believe God and see what turning back then would mean, rally to the leader’s assistance, and together try with might and main to persuade the church onward, but they become the butt of ridicule and sneers. That is exactly what happened with Israel. “Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. And Joshua, the son of Nun, and Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land which we passed through to search it is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us; their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us; fear them not. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones.”
What caused all this disaster and defeat? Just ten men! And we have seen nearly a whole church defeated and turned back in exactly the same manner. Sometimes it has been a pastor who, unwilling to pay the price himself, has influenced nearly his whole flock; sometimes it has been some of the principal men in the church.
We know of an instance where a godless Sunday School superintendent, by his words, turned as fine a lot of young people as ever lived away from holiness. They saw the light and some of them flocked about the altar as seekers when the superintendent got a few of them off to one side and influenced them against the doctrine, and today they are a godless, worldly set, on the devil’s toboggan-slide, slipping Hellward at an awful rate. He has damned them by his influence, by his words. They will wake up in Hell and curse him forever. We know of a number of such cases.
In some instances, if the pastor would get out of the way, his church would enter that “goodly land” of full salvation. Such a pastor will have the wrath of God poured on him forever and forever. He may fawn over and bow down to a worldly, godless set, or refuse to get out of that Christless lodge he is in, and go straight out for God, but the time will come when lie will pay dearly for his past in holding back his people. Of that class hear Jesus say: “Woe: unto you, scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” (Matt. 23:13)
Where the pastor takes his stand with God and His truth, sometimes a few prominent members hold back, and by the stand they take, refuse to enter themselves, and by speaking against the experience, keep many others out. That is exactly what those ten false spies did, and God said of them: “Because all those men which have seen My glory and My miracles, which I did in Egypt, and in the wilderness, have tempted Me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to My voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked Me see it.”
Friends, what about your public words? How many times men will discuss and argue, until those who believe will be influenced and turn away from God. It would have been better for that individual never to have been born. And you who have received light will walk in that light, regardless of what others may do, or you will lose all you have and backslide and fall into Hell. We warn you, you cannot refuse to walk in the light, nor speak against God’s truth, without bringing the wrath of God upon you. Listen to what He said: “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against Me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against Me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in Mine ears, so will I do to you. Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against Me. Doubtless ye shall not come into the land concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua, the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which he searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know My breach of promise. I, the Lord, have said, I will surely do it until all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against Me; in this wilderness they shall be consumed and there they shall die.”