But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
The Israelites who left Egypt never trusted God and didn't ever wanted to leave Egypt. They in fact loved Egypt to the point that they missed Egypt and tried many times to go back. The only reason they left Egypt was because the Egyptians thrust them out. The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. "For otherwise," they said, "we will all die!" Exodus 12:33.
Even God knew that they would turn their backs at the tiniest obstacle and didn't let them take the shortcut (When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." Exodus 13:17).
Even in Exodus 14, when they were at the red sea they murdered saying "Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. Exodus 14:12. If you read Exodus carefully you will notice time and again that the Israelites never wanted to leave Egypt. They never valued God’s promise to Abraham. They never wanted to be God's people. That's why at this juncture God didn't give them a choice or ask them to do anything. Instead He told them to be still and do nothing. God achieved their victory that day and they would never see these Egyptians again in their life (even if they wanted to).
Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD...The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. Exodus 14:13, 14.
I am really amazed at these people. They saw the great hand of God when God punished the Egyptians but instead of praising God and trusting Him and marching on boldly, they failed at every step.
During the next two years, God led them miraculously in the wilderness but still despite all those miracles they never really trusted God. Finally, at Kadesh Barnea they sided with the ten spies who instilled fear in them. God expected them to take a step of faith and cross the Jordan river. However, God knew that they were not ready. That's why God made them travel the wilderness 40 years until that whole adult generation who left Egypt, perished in the wilderness. It was the next generation together with Joshua and Caleb who crossed the Jordan river. This generation crossed the Jordan willingly and even willingly obeyed God's plan for the conquest of Jericho. Imagine how the previous generation would have responded if all of them were asked to be circumcised (which could allow an enemy to destroy then easily like what happened in Genesis 34) or to walk around Jericho once for six days and seven times the seventh day. They would have never done that. But the new generation did exactly what God asked them to do and pleased God.
God made sure that His promise to Abraham was fulfilled. However, the Israelites who left Egypt lost the opportunity to be a part of the fulfillment of that promise. What a great loss! However, God was willing to wait until there was a generation who was ready to obey Him. The stratergy used by God to conquer Jericho seemed foolish and impractical. But this young generation believed in God's promise. I am pretty sure that if this generation had found themselves at the Red Sea they would have sang praises to God and waited for God to part the Red Sea and willingly crossed the Red Sea. Indeed they did just that at Jordan.
It is the same even with us today. God will always keep His promises. He doe not work like we expect Him to work and His ideas are literally out of this world. The question is whether we are willing to trust Him and obey Him. Remember what Jesus' earthly mother told the servants? (His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." John 2:5). If I did just that, I will definitely become part of the fulfillment of His precious promises.
Please don't be like the Israelites who had such short memories. One day they praised God and the next day they cursed and denied God. They denied God to the extent that they created an idol and worshiped this idol. They even claimed that this idol was their God who brought them out of Egypt. Isn't that just plain insane? Such behavior is unexplainable and unfathomable. But we often fall into this same category.