God has a great plan for His people. You included.
As I read the account of Israel’s first freed generation on the banks of the Jordan, I am overwhelmed with regret on their behalf. God was longing to give them this land flowing with “milk and honey,” but their eyes were consumed with giants rather than God’s great plan for their lives. They were so hardened in their hearts that they were ready to kill their leaders in order toreturn to an Egyptian slavery. Insanity!
In the midst of this crazy chaos, Joshua and Caleb demonstrate radical faith:
They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! 8 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. 9 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!” 10 But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. Numbers 14:7-10.
Notice some important realities in these verses:
- Joshua and Caleb are gripped with the character of God more than the obstacles before them – “…if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us.”
- These two returned with a vision for how clearly God’s glory could be seen by defeating the giants in their way – “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!”
- Joshua and Caleb are filled with courage rather than overwhelmed by fear — “Don’t be afraid of them!”
These two standout spies demonstrate authentic faith–a faith that is willing to die for the God they love and serve (v.10a)
“And then, the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to ALL the Israelites at the Tabernacle.” Why now rather than earlier? Because God calls us to live by faith! As Hebrews 11 clearly states, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Yet, all around us are Christians that seek a sign, who want to see God’s miraculous hand at every turn, who believe that God needs to show Himself every time they ask. This passage would not support it. God shows Himself AFTER the “sides” have made their stand. The verdict is drawn. The stage is set. The message is, “Trust and risk your life on the character of God, not on the demonstrations of God.” Even after Israel had seen the most amazing miracles, their hearts were still hard. They faltered in their faith.
Except for a few.
Consider these three closing Biblical truths that emerge from this text:
- God honors and protects those who live by faith. When Joshua and Caleb were in danger of death for their defiant faith, God shows up in an undeniable way. We NEVER lose when we trust in God.
- Hard faithless people stubbornly reject the best that God longs to provide. Though the land flowing with “milk and honey” is their’s for the taking, they cannot conceive of a God who would actually help them get it. They are sentenced to life of aimless wandering in the wilderness of despair.
- Following radically after God often creates intense conflict with others. Even among those that claim to be God-followers.
Radical faith can never be manufactured. Rather, it is forged in the daily disciplines of meeting with God, knowing Him intimately, and obeying Him in the small things of every day life. A long obedience in the small things produces a radical faith for the big things.