1) In both cases they distrust God’s word (Genesis 3:4-5; Numbers 14:8-10).
2) They trust their own abilities to examine and assess a situation more than they trust the truth of God’s word (Genesis 3:6; Numbers 13:31-33).
3) The death sentence is not fulfilled immediately (Genesis 3:15; Numbers 14:20, 29, 34).
4) In both cases they suffer a life of difficulties as punishment for their sins (Genesis 3:16-19; Numbers 14:33-34).
5) They are prohibited entrance into the land of blessing (Genesis 3:24; Numbers 14:40-45).
These characteristics suggest the common denominators to any sin of rebellion. But there also are noticeable differences between these two episodes:
1) Adam and Eve disobey a prohibition; the Israelites disobey a blessing.
2) Those who lead the people in rebellion die immediately (Numbers 14:36-37).
3) There is a remnant (Joshua and Caleb) who, by faith in Yahweh’s word, are spared the destruction that the others will suffer and who will enjoy the promised blessings (Numbers 14:24, 30, 38). In the midst of just judgment on all the rest, they will experience protection and salvation.
And just like Genesis 3, the reading of Numbers 13 – 14 tells us a lot about Yahweh:
1) He is just and severe, punishing sin in accordance with what it deserves. Those who said, “Would that we had died in this wilderness!” will die in the wilderness (Numbers 14:2, 28-29); those who feared that their children would be prey to the Canaanites will know that their children will receive the blessing that they despised (Numbers 14:3, 31).
2) While Yahweh is just and severe, He also is forgiving. Moses says, “‘And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, “The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.’ Then the LORD said, ‘I have pardoned, according to your word’” (Numbers 14:18-20).
3) He preserves a remnant who will enjoy His future blessings, in this case Joshua, Caleb and the whole generation of Israelites who were not counted in the census in Numbers 1.
Despite the sad rebellion in Numbers 13 – 14, there still is hope for the future.