And every one of you came near to me and said, “Let us send men before us, and let them search out the land for us, and bring back word to us of the way by which we should go up, and of the cities into which we shall come.” (Deuteronomy 1:22)
I think it is important to remember that Moses is speaking to the next generation of Israelites as they prepare to go into the land of Canaan. Yet he speaks to them as if they were the generation that left Egypt, walked through the sea and committed so many of the errors he is reflecting upon. Notice that he says, “You came near to me” indicating that he includes the present generation with those of the past because they were part of the same nation. In other words, he was speaking to Israel, at large, past, present and future. Consequently, anyone who calls upon the name of the LORD should take note of what is being spoken.
Moses spoke this way because God speaks to His people in the same manner. Certain individuals may not have participated in a specific issue that was addressed, nevertheless, God commonly spoke to the nation as a whole without necessarily distinguishing the innocent from the guilty. In a manner of speaking, He responded as rain that “falls on the just and the unjust.” As for the just, they recognize this and respond accordingly.
For example, as the Babylonian captivity was nearing its end, Daniel prayed to God in acknowledgement of why the Jews were in Babylon to start with — “we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled” (Daniel 9:5). As far as we know, Daniel was a righteous man and did not participate in these sins, and yet, he doesn’t deflect and place the responsibility on others — he includes himself in the “we.”
So the point is, the mistakes made by those of old and the reproof given to them should not be considered merely as ancient history. We should not think that the impact of what happened can and should be deflected off of us and onto others simply because we weren’t there. To the contrary, the Bible is clear that these things were written down for the admonition of God’s people at large. In short, the instructions and warnings given to those of long ago should be received by those of this generation. Moreover, we should learn from the mistakes of the past generation and strive not to repeat them that we might be a generation that “possesses the land” and advances the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessings and Shalom,