Too Little, Too Late


volume 18, number 14, April 4, 2019

“Here we are; we have indeed sinned, but we will go up to the place which the Lord has promised.” -Numbers 14:40

Too Little, Too Late

God had long ago promised a land to His people through Abraham. Yahweh confirmed that promise through Isaac and Jacob. And after 430 years in Egyptian bondage, Yahweh delivered His people out of that bondage through His mighty hand. He demonstrated His power time after time, in the ten plagues on Pharaoh and Egypt, in the parting of the Red Sea, in the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, in providing daily for His people’s needs with manna and water. He warned them with fire coming down on the outskirts of the camp. He brought leprosy upon Miriam for a season, and He stooped to their weakness in granting their desire for spies to make sure the Promised Land was acceptable and could be taken from its inhabitants.[1]

When the twelve tribes returned after forty days, ten of the spies gave a negative report. They were overcome with unbelief. There were giants in the land. The cities were well fortified. They saw themselves as grasshoppers. How could they possibly defeat these huge, wicked, pagan people? Of course Joshua and Caleb, the two other spies, saw the situation completely different. They believed God would give them the land, that the protection these pagan people had enjoyed, was removed from them by Yahweh, Israel’s great God, Deliverer, Savior, and Provider. 

When Yahweh heard the declaration of unbelief from the ten spies and the consequent bedlam, chaos, panic, and pandemonium which ensued, He told Moses that He would wipe out these people and start over, making Moses the leader of a new, more faithful people. Moses interceded for the people, reminding Yahweh of His lovingkindness, willingness to forgive iniquity and transgressions, while also acknowledging His holiness and justice, noting that He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. Yahweh then said He would pardon the people but that none of them over the age of twenty, those who had engaged in their rebellion against Yahweh, would enter the land. Already the ten spies had died in a plague and all the others would follow their demise over the next forty years. Only those under the age of twenty would ever enter the Promised Land.

Now when the unfaithful people heard this sentence they immediately gained, what we might call “jailhouse religion.” They then vowed to go up and take the land which Yahweh had promised them. This is like the wayward, serial, adulterous husband who is served divorce papers by his wife and begins to realize how much money this divorce will cost him and how he has lost the respect of his children. He then asks, “What do I need to do to fix this?” Too little, too late. 

Yahweh told His rebellious people through Moses that they should not go up into the land, that He would certainly not go with them. They rebelled again and decided to go anyway. They seemed now “to get it.” In their bravado they would make up for their unbelief, pride, and rebellion and take the land once promised to them. It was an abject disaster. They were severely routed and apparently many died in the battle. They decided then to obey, to trust Yahweh, but it was too little, too late. 

My friends, could it be said of you, “Too little, too late?” Father, have you worked so hard, so many hours that you really do not connect with your children? Are you verbally abusive to them? In your frustration at your pubescent teenaged son for his lack of energy, drive, or commitment to his academic work, do you berate him, calling him unmentionable names, declaring that he will never amount to anything? Mother, do you coddle your children? Are you slack or inconsistent in your discipline? Do you play favorites? Are you emotionally embedded in your son’s life, especially if your husband, your son’s father, is remote, detached, or even verbally abusive to him? You may discover your error in your child’s senior year of high school when he no longer wants anything to do with either one of you, but it may be too little, too late. 

Perhaps you profess to be a Christian, but you simply cannot break your porn problem. At times you feel ashamed. At other times you feel remorse. You promise to get better, and for a season, a few months at a time, you do seem to get better. You have been clean several times for a few months at a time, but some trigger point in your life seems always to bring you back to your addiction. Now your wife is really fed up with you. She has told you several times that she has not the ability to compete with your sinful addiction to pornography. Your marriage has been strained for years, and she has all but cut off communication with you except to talk logistics about the children and your finances. You are still attending church regularly but you know your walk of faith is lifeless, devoid of any real joy or power. Finally, one day at your office you are served with divorce papers. You immediately call home, but no answer. When you get home your children are all crying and your wife is cold as ice. You beg her. You tell her you really mean business this time. You ask, “What do I need to do to fix this?” She, however, is not impressed. Too little, too late. 

You may have a friend from long ago who has always resisted the Christian faith. You always meant to talk with him about his spiritual condition, but you just never found the right time. Actually you have not seen him in many years but you recently found his contact information, and you thought you ought to reach out to him and reestablish your relationship from many years ago. So you connected through text messages and exchanged pleasantries about your family and work, and you really meant to send him some information about how to become a Christian or to address some of the objections to Christianity you remember him voicing many years ago. But you never quite got around to that either. Then you texted him several times but he never responded. Then you decided to call his second wife and she gave you the bad news. He died last week of a massive heart attack. You meant to call him but too little, too late.

Now Yahweh forgave His covenant people for their willful pride, unbelief, and rebellion, but He vowed they would never enter the Promised Land. They meant well after this woeful word, but it was too little, too late. 

Yes, God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and full of mercy, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. But sometimes the consequences of our sin, even though forgiven, will plague us to the very end of our lives. 

Is there anyone, a child, your spouse, a friend with whom you need to set the record straight? Do so now. Don’t be like the children of Israel in the wilderness. The sad banner over their lives was “Too Little, Too Late.” As always, go to Jesus, your rock and your Redeemer, the One in whom alone you can take refuge.   


1. Numbers 13:1,2 state that Yahweh directed Moses to appoint twelve spies to spy out the land of Canaan but Deuteronomy 1:21,22 says that Moses directed the people to go up and take the land, but they asked Moses for spies to go first into the land. So, it seems as though this is another example of Yahweh giving them what they asked for. Again we must be careful for what we ask God. He may give it to us. 

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