Monday after Exaudi
Scripture: Numbers 14:26-45 (NKJV)
26 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 27 “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. 28 Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the LORD, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: 29 The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. 30 Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. 31 But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. 32 But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection. 35 I the LORD have spoken this; I will surely do so to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.'”
36 Now the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation complain against him by bringing a bad report of the land, 37 those very men who brought the evil report about the land, died by the plague before the LORD. 38 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive, of the men who went to spy out the land. 39 Then Moses told these words to all the children of Israel, and the people mourned greatly.
40 And they rose early in the morning and went up to the top of the mountain, saying, “Here we are, and we will go up to the place which the LORD has promised, for we have sinned!” 41 And Moses said, “Now why do you transgress the command of the LORD? For this will not succeed. 42 Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies, for the LORD is not among you. 43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you shall fall by the sword; because you have turned away from the LORD, the LORD will not be with you.” 44 But they presumed to go up to the mountaintop; nevertheless, neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses departed from the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that mountain came down and attacked them, and drove them back as far as Hormah.
Simply saying “I have sinned” does not cause the gates of Heaven to swing open to you. It is not the mere speaking of the proper words that makes a true confession. This is why Moses pronounces God’s enduring judgment against the evil members of the congregation of Israel, even though they have spoken the words “We have sinned!” While these words spoke truth, the people did not speak truly. For it is not just the words that make a true confession, but the spirit in which the words are spoken.
The words of confession are true words of power when spoken in truth by the Spirit of Truth. The true Christian does not merely speak the words, but speaks the truth by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, who dwells within the heart of each believer. “I have sinned. I am heartily sorry for my sins, and sincerely repent of them. I earnestly desire to amend my sinful life, for so Your Holy Spirit leads me. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Who died for all sins and was raised to justify all who believe in Him, be gracious and merciful to me!” Such words, inspired in us by God Himself, open the very heart of God to pour out forgiveness, life, and salvation upon His true children. In Holy Baptism, at the Holy Supper, and in Holy Absolution He says, “I forgive you all your sins. Sin no more. Depart in peace!”