So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill. And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah. And ye returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you.
The people of Israel went up presumptuously—in bold defiance, pridefully, in willful disobedience—and got themselves into trouble. And they had to bear the consequences of that. At the edge of the promised land, the people had feared and trembled to face the giants of the land. They said, “No, we’re not going in there,” and disobeyed God. And as soon as they said that, God changed their destination. They would no longer go into the promised land, but would wander in the wilderness until that generation died there.
Sometimes there really are missed chances and there is no fixing or undoing that. There is no second chance or making up for it or changing the course. So it was not repentance but rebellion for them to now decide to go up to battle. It was further disobedience to the new command from God. In self-will, they charged forward, but doing that meant they went without God and were guaranteed failure. God would have no pity for what they’d gotten themselves into. He wouldn’t help them to disobey His command.
God is very gracious and patient with us. He is a loving God. But some situations are a one-shot deal. And when we shrink from that and let fear override us and refuse to trust God and go forward in obedience, we miss out. And in those cases, there is no fixing it, no second chance, no making it right and getting a do-over. There are just consequences to face and a new direction to move in absent of the blessings that could have been ours.
The truth is, God is not going to force us to do anything. He delights in our obedience and blesses us for that. But He is very serious about our disobedience, as well, and that does not make Him unkind or unfair. In reality, the consequences of our disobedience are our doing, not His. So how do we respond to these kinds of situations? One way is to simply move forward. There is no going back and changing things after they are done, but we can strive to be obedient next time. We can humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness and resubmit to the new path we must take.