In this particular passage the spies have returned and given their reports and you have the 10 bad and the 2 good. The people, due to the bad spies report, decide not to proceed into the land. The taking of Canaan was an opportunity for God to show Himself very strong on behalf of His people, but they refused to go and so God’s wrath was kindled.
God decides to destroy the children of Israel and give Moses another people to lead. Moses however brings up the question of what his action will communicate to the rest of the world. They will say God couldn’t take them to the land He wanted so He destroyed them.
God wanted to destroy His people a number of times for the same reason that He sparred them; His testimony. God had been good to the children of Israel. He delivered them from circumstances that they had no power to overcome. He provided for them in a supernatural ways like making their clothes grow and last longer, making food come from a number of places, and providing water out of a rock. He protected them. He destroyed the Egyptians. He defended them in battle a number of times. He guided them as a pillar of cloud by day and as a pillar of fire by night. While God was leading them the children of Israel really had no legitimate concerns! God had shown Himself faithful and mighty. Yet often throughout the accounts of the Old Testament we find them complaining! Why? They were a self-centered people. God took care of them His way not their way and somehow that made all He had done and all He had been on their behalf null and void or at least you would think so to hear them complain as they did.
I wonder what that kind of attitude would have communicated about God to the world around them, which is the point and the problem. It certainly wasn’t the representation God was worthy of. Think about it. All the children of Israel did was complain. They walked around in doubt and fear and uncertainty. If you didn’t know better you would think that God was a harder task master than the Egyptians. God deserved no such witness.
God is still concerned about His testimony before the world today. I wonder, based on what people see and hear in you and I, what impression they get of our God. Do you complain constantly? Are you constantly worrying about things? How might your attitude throughout the day affect the purpose God has for you as a witness? Will people draw the conclusion that your God is good and having Him in your life is a real benefit by watching your attitude?
God is concerned about His testimony. He is good. Do our attitudes and actions communicate that? We need to consider that as we go out and witness for Him. Do our lives and our attitudes reflect what is in agreement with reality in regards to the goodness of our God?