“But they presumed to go up unto the mountaintop: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and Moses, departed not out of the camp. Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites who dwelt in that hill country, and struck them, and routed them, even unto Hormah.” Numbers 14:44 – 45
Here is an “eth” for you. You can read about it in Numbers 14. Joshua and Caleb returned from spying out the land with a great report. However, there compatriots held a different, fear based view and convinced the children of Israel that despite the fact that the land was indeed good, it was not the “eth” of God. They were after all outnumbered, outgunned and out-trained in matters of war.
But you see, as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 9:11, the battle is not to the strong. There’s a game changer called “time and chance”, referring to the “eth” of God. That carries more weight than all the skill, all the strength and all the smarts. Just getting in on the “eth” of God, (the timing) will make all the difference. When would you want to go to war? When God was leading the charge or when He was someplace else?
So here’s what happened… the children of Israel decided to pass. They turned down the “eth” of God. Most likely they didn’t see it or just wouldn’t believe it, but they turned it down. They let it pass. So Moses informs them that because of their decision, the men who brought the bad report would die on the spot of a plague and those who believed their report would be denied entrance into the Promised Land and would die in the desert. Pretty sobering words. And those words had great effect.
The children of Israel who refused to enter the land, repented. They had a change of heart and they decided to go ahead and attack the Canaanites and Amelekites who were in the land. After all, it was only a delay of a day. What could have changed? Wouldn’t God be merciful and forgive? Well, God does forgive when we repent, but that didn’t change the fact that the “eth” had come and gone.
They would enter the land in their own strength, without the aid of God. And they got whooped! It wasn’t that God was mean. The “eth” had passed and in their case, there would never be another one for them to enter the Promised Land. Does this mean that when we miss the “eth” of God, that that’s it? That we’ll never get another chance? Well, as much as I’d like to tell you that there will always be a second chance because God is a God of the second chance, the truth is that some things only come around once.
God is gracious and full of mercy and will make a way for you, but it won’t be the same. It could still be something marvelous and better than you could have imagined, but I think it would benefit us all if we took the “eth” of God more seriously. I say that not as a word of judgment, but for our encouragement. We are missing way too many opportunities because we can’t discern the “eth” of God, nor recognize its signs.