The Promise Land Debacle:
Where did they go wrong and what can we learn from it as an example?
While there are many lessons that can be learned from this tragic ending to a glorious opportunity for God's people before the land of Canaan, I have yet another to share. The Hebrews were delivered from Egyptian slavery and saw with their own eyes the many miracles of God's handiwork throughout their deliverance. In the wilderness journey they experienced the provisions of God right on up to the promise ot the land with milk and honey. But something went wrong and the Spirit speaks to my heart about more food for thought on this key event in the ancient Hebrew people.
Moses had all the creditability and faith he needed to lay hold of the promise that God laid before them from the beginning to enter into the land of milk and honey in Deut 1:20-21. However, the people interjected and thought it best to send spies to search out the land and determine which way to go. Moses took this appeal to God and God gave guidance to Moses.
At this point, it is particularly challenging for any of us as leaders to demand an approach based on faith only ( God said it ....let's take it) versus the people demand for more facts (let's see what the reality or numbers add up to ...logically speaking). Moses yielded to the peoples approach. What if he hadn't? Would he be seen as an over ruling dictator who declares my way or the highway!!
The spies go in and search the land challenging the substance of God's promise to deliver. In Numbers 13:1-2 the Lord gives instruction to Moses how best to address the desire of the people to search the Land. God does not force anything and even if we the people do something different than God has directed, God will still offer sound advice for aiding you in your decision making process. Clearly Moses perhaps did not take the stand to support the faith principle by giving in to the people but still he's only human. God isn't angry....yet!!
Now here is where the plot thickens, to make the long story short we know that the spies report was 10 voted against going in because there were giants in the land and 2 spies voted(joshua & Caleb) that we will take the Land by faith....saying the Lord has delivered us this far surely we will be protected and blessed! What did the people do? They choose information based on facts (current conditions) and rejected the faith principle declared by Joshua & Caleb. They went with majority rule and such is the first truly published act of democracy at work in it's ancient history. And it demonstrates it's potential to be in opposition to what God wanted to do for his people. In this case, God is ready to deliver on His Promise at last.
The Hebrews may have still been murmuring, and tired and many may have been doubtful of the God that brought them out of Egypt and done so much in the wilderness to bring them to the entry gate of his promise. Despite their behavior God was ready to bless them. Their discontent did not keep them out of the Promised Land. What kept them out was their unbelief in God's promise to deliver His Promise! The Spirit tells me that is an affront to very God we are called to serve and this is where an angry God steps in and declare they shall not enter into it. Scripture reveals they tried to enter the Land after God’s decree was issued and failed miserably!! It is written "As ye have spoken in my ear (the Lord) so shall it be unto you." See Numbers CH 14. Basically they got what they choose to believe.
To magnify this spiritual wisdom and insight and apply it to our journey to the Kingdom to Come we can learn from this debacle. I believe, because of our democratic society, it has much to offer for securing our faithfulness in these turbulent times and for believers at large. Democracy, as good as it is when compared to other forms of governance still has it's limits for application in the House of the Lord. We cannot control what the majority rule may be in church or outside of it. But we better be steadfast and unmovable in having faith in God's Promised land for us.
There are many challenging "issues" affecting the church community in our generation and it is particularly impacting our way of living! But let us remember God promise to the Church for a Kingdom to Come and Christ is it’s King and Judge. Let’s not confuse ourselves. It is not the American dream of home ownership worthy though the goal may be for human comfort and financial stability. The greater foundation and the greater house built is built on Christ words and hope.
In closing, with all we are made to see, God's promise of a New Jerusalem is about to be delivered at last and Christ is looking for his Joshua & Caleb's. God's promises to us as a body of believers is just as real for us as it was to them and so are it’s “giants”. The Hebrews made the mistake of looking back at the blessings they had received and missed having them. Are those, who are Christians, doing the same and looking back at what was lost? Unfortunately a majority of them do seem to be doing just that. They want the good ole days. Why is that and is it because they have failed to consider by faith the Promise of God's deliverance.
It seems paradoxical that our intellect and our democracy, good as it has been to us, could get in the way of the power of faith and cost us to lose sight of the high calling and it’s reward for our hope in Christ and in looking for his appearing. To the Joshua's and Caleb's who hold up the faith principle God will yet reward you as he did so for them. For they went in the Promised Land at last and received the promised. If they so receive so can you. But you must keep the faith and remember the Promise of God. And it is written in Hebrew 4:9-11 “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that entered into his rest, he also will ceased from his own works as God did from his. Let us therefore labor to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
The deeper issue is having the faith to still believe in the promise when so many don’t. Only to have to wait another generation before you get the promise fulfilled in victory. How many of us would have waited like Joshua & Caleb that long and under the stress of being in the wilderness with those who did not have the faith? Let's be honest, it is easy to see the faith of these men but can you live the faith like they had to in the midst of unbelief and suffering in the same "wilderness" through no fault of their own.
When revisiting this event, most of us are responding to a conclusion but not really understanding the endurance test of their faith. There is so much more to be brought out in this event than a victory lap because most of us today would fail to believe just like the Hebrews did back then given the same obstacles. How do you convince your followers against the fear of being a grasshopper in the midst of giants? We are not doing a very good job in our generation of change! Where is your love for those who live in fear and doubt in the same camp? Joshua and Caleb greatest faith is found in staying with the people and securing them in their predicament due to their lack of faith. God needed them to bring up the next generation of believers in faith in order to take the promise. But Joshua and Caleb had to give up going into the land of Canaan until then and still love them despite the delay in receiving the Promise of God.
The two men choose not to abandon ship due to their awesome faith but used it to build up the faith of next generation. That is what the apostle Paul calls enduring faith and that is the foreknowledge and power of God at work among men needed to protect us and promote His purposes before the earth!!
In the today’s perilous times in which we live there appears to be many christians ready to go with majority rule, when in fact, God may not be blessing us in that direction? Clearly, with the Jews return as a nation in May 1948, God may indeed preparing the New Jerusalem which is spoken of in the Book of Revelations. But first there is the rebirthing of the old Jerusalem physically and literally before us which scripture prophesies. The city is full of strife and under constant attack from many sides especially politically and militarily. Despite this, Christians should be seeing those “giants” about to be put down because of the promise of a new hope and victory which is to be led by Jesus Christ.
Let the Church not make the same mistake Israel made and fail to believe in the return of Christ for our deliverance and Israel’s. Despite the changing world system and the majority rule and a christianity that as Apostle Paul says in 2 Thess 2:3 “Let know man decieve you for the day of Christ shall not come except there come a falling away first and then the man of sin shall be revealed...etc”. Certainly in our generation we are seeing unprecedented doubt and disregard for sound biblical beliefs in our own wilderness. But remember God’s promise is to he that overcomes! It’s very personal, God will not be saving a denomination but individuals who have a love for Him and look for his appearing. The debacle in the promised land ought to be an example to us that majority rule does not rule God and to be encouraged by our faith and know the promise that God gives is the promise we ought not doubt.
Copyright@ 2012 Gregory A Booker
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