Reading through the book of Numbers, there is a story that keeps playing in my mind reel.
Moses and his scouting team. He sent twelve leaders from the Israelite community to check out the land the Lord had promised them and bring back a report. What kind of food grows there? What is the soil like? Who lives there? How many? What are the towns like?...
Well, ten came back saying one thing... But two came back saying something entirely different.
This is what the ten had to say:
"We can't go up against them! They are stronger than we are! The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there… Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that's what they thought, too!"
But here is what Caleb and Joshua said to the community:
"Let's go at once to take the land. We can certainly conquer it! ... The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don't be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us!"
How do you think the community responded? Were they filled with hope, trust and faith like Caleb and Joshua? I mean, the Lord had performed miracle upon miracle for the Israelites since he led them out of Egypt, providing for their every need: parting the Red Sea, leading them by a cloud and by fire, water from wood and then a rock, manna to eat, defeating enemies they encountered… Well…
"The whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron, "If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness! Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder!"
The Israelites then plotted to choose a new leader and head back to Egypt and discussed stoning Joshua and Caleb.
Isn't this interesting? The Lord had kept all his promises and showed himself faithful and yet…
But, as much as I'd love to shake my head in disgust at these faithless Israelites, I see some reflection of me in their souls.
The shifting of my eyes off of God and onto the problem. Letting fear cover me so completely like knightly armor--immobilizing, heavy, dark. And then letting the problem grow bigger in my mind, sometimes more than it is in reality, inflating a balloon with every thought, reaching saturation, ready to explode... Kind of like the ten: "devoured…All the people were huge…we felt like grasshopers...they thought that too!"
And when I've embraced this lack of faith like a beaver to a log, and spoken it, how has this affected those around me? We can't underestimate this! Ten men influenced a community that consisted of over 600,000 soldiers alone, not counting women, elderly, priests, or children. A tsunami littered with lack of faith rolled out of a very small opening of ten heads, and the consequences were devastating: the Israelite community, 20 years and older, never saw this beautiful promised land the Lord had for them. Except for faith-filled Caleb and Joshua. The others wandered the wilderness for forty years where they all perished. (Numbers 13 and 14.)
My dear Father, as I commune with you, read your Word, listen for your voice, and seek your guidance, may I walk in faith, trust, and obedience like Caleb, Joshua, and ultimately your Son. May I say boldly in faith, "Because the Lord is with me, I will certainly conquer this!"
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