Joshua Stevens, Faith Contributor, Valley Ag Voice
All scripture may flow from the simple phrase “But God.” However, it is held together by the knowledge that God will keep His promises. If we did not believe that God would be able to follow through and do the miraculous things He claims He is capable of, then we would not have scripture. In fact, we see such doubt throughout scripture.
“But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.’ Then, the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.’ So, they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, ‘The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.’” Numbers 13:30-33
Numbers 13 takes place after God had shown his power in setting the Israelites free from slavery. God led them out of Egypt and provided a way through the wilderness, and now Israel stands at the edge of the promised land (Numbers 13:1). Do these people who had just seen the Lord work in such marvelous ways continue to hold onto the promise that was given to them — that the Lord will deliver them this land?
No. Instead, they grow fearful of the Canaanites, and they begin to complain. Wishing to have stayed in Egypt or die on the way to the promise land rather than be killed by the people who inhabit it (Numbers 14:1). It is not that the Israelites are fearful for no reason either. It’s not as if there is a simple bump in the road or slight inconvenience that leads to this fear. No, they had been brought to a fertile land where they envisioned being able to live freely and prosper. Yet they find themselves having to displace mighty warriors who outnumber the small nomadic people of Israel (Numbers 13:33).
Still, even seeing this image first hand, Caleb attempts to rally the nation. To remind them of the promise a righteous and sovereign God had given them. Attempting to encourage the Israelites to trust in what God has given them. The nation, however, does not listen. Though Israel will eventually claim the promised land, it will be years later, and almost all who stood in the assembly that day would not live to see the promised inheritance.
While the story of Israel’s exodus is well known, we can sometimes miss the simple applications that affect our lives. In today’s world, we see tragedy after tragedy unfold: natural disasters, wars, disease, famine, drought, terror. It is nearly impossible to look around and not see the abject evil devouring everything in sight. Sometimes, it can feel hopeless, particularly when that evil hits close to home, or we feel powerless to help.
For many Israelites, we can imagine this is how they felt — being brought to a promised land by God who showed faithfulness time and again — then to send out strong and brave men only to hear reports of fear and trepidation from the promised land. Giving in to the voice of the many who despair is easy. It is important to remember the voice of the few who remind us of the promises so that we would have hope. We worship a sovereign God who does not allow evil to go unpunished. Instead, we have a God who continuously intervenes in our lives to give us every opportunity to be united with Him, and reminds us of His promises.
“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:26-28
Will you pray with me?
Lord, thank you for your steadfastness, the patience you have with us, and the love you continuously shower us with. Help us to fight despair with hope, keep our eyes on the kingdom to come, and the purpose you have for our lives. Let each of us be a light to those in our lives, and give us the courage to stand on the daily opportunities we have in our lives to share with others the good news of reconciliation with You.
In Jesus’ name,
Crossway Bibles. (2001). The Holy Bible English Standard Version. Wheaton: Good News Publishers.