Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Expedition of Futility and Faith

I think one of the most amazing passages of Scripture is found in Numbers 13 and 14 where God has Moses send the 12 scouts into Canaan to explore the land He was going to give them.

You could write an entire book about organization, leadership, faith, courage, and painful consequences of failure.

The tribes all picked representatives. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, ended up with the ‘muster’ and ‘moxie’ to make it to the end.

The sin of the others is well known. Not only did they have a negative report based on their view of the circumstances but they ‘spread discouraging reports’ to the Israelites. Their trumped up stories caused the people to weep and cry all night.

Caleb’s immediate report was so different: Numbers 13:30 ‘But Caleb tried to encourage the people as they stood before Moses. "Let's go at once to take the land," he said. "We can certainly conquer it!"

Later, Joshua and Caleb in tears and torn clothing cry out to the people- ‘ "The land we 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, and he will give it to us! 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! Don't be afraid of them!"

The saddest verse is the next one:

But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb.

Another hero in the story is Moses. He prays to God to not destroy the people in their rebellion, even though God was willing to start over. And Moses’ reason was the glory of the name of God Himself.

However, there were tragic consequences. This lack of faith caused forty years of failure. One year of punishment for each futile day of exploration. The faithless scouts were all struck dead.

What is bigger to you? God and His promises or your circumstances?
Do you spread words of hope or words of discouragement?
Do you lead in courage or stall in fear?

Lord, help me be a Joshua or a Caleb. It will make us unpopular.

Ecclesiastes 9 has two closing words:
There is hope only for the living. For as they say, "It is better to be a live dog than a dead lion!" verse 4

I have observed something else in this world of ours. The fastest runner doesn't always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn't always win the battle. The wise are often poor, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don't always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being at the right place at the right time. Verse 11

New day… Let’s take on the giants.

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