A different spirit

A different spirit

My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully. – Numbers 14:24

Numbers 14:6-11

 6 Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua and Caleb, tore their clothing.

 7 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.

So Near and Yet So

I so often dream we might make a team But so wild a scheme I must banish

For each time I start to open my heart you vanish

My dear, I’ve a feeling you are so near and yet so far

You appear like a radiant star first so near, then again so far

Although the Father had performed remarkable miracles in the land of Egypt and at the Red Sea, the people were incongruously skeptical and untrusting. The Father faithfully led them to the promised land. They were on its outskirts, right at the border. But they were still faithless and clueless.

So the Father ordered Moses to choose twelve men, one from each of the twelve tribes, to enter and spy out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:2). All twelve of the spies went together. They all saw exactly the same things. But their observations and reactions could not have been more different. Their responses were swayed by their hearts

Ten of the spies saw things through the eyes of fear and doubt. Two of the spies saw things through the eyes of faith and trust, Caleb and Joshua.

When the twelve spies returned to the camp, they gave reports on what they saw. What were the quality of the land and the condition of the people living in it? The mission of the spies covered over 220 miles from the Negeb on the South to just north of Damascus (Numbers 1:1-16). They accomplished their mission and recounted their reflections.

But two different kinds of reports are given. One is an evil report. It focused on all of the obstacles. There were large, fortified cities and Giants (Nephilim). They concluded their report saying, “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. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers” (Numbers 13:31-33). What they saw with their eyes was filtered through their fearful, doubting hearts.

The other report was a good report. What Joshua and Caleb saw with their eyes was filtered through their faithful, trusting hearts.

Numbers 14:7-9

 7 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!”

But what did the people do? They believed the evil report!

Numbers 14:1-3

 1 The whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night.

 2 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!” they complained.

 3 “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! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?”

Numbers 14:10 The whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb.

We are tempted to say their response seems incredulous. But not so much when we realize that we might have done exactly the same thing.

The children of Israel were about to become toast, burnt, and crispy toast.

REFLECT & PRAY

The courage and faith of Joshua and Caleb were exemplary. What set them apart? It is quite simple. They took the Father at His Word. They believed all that the Father said and put their full confidence in Him. God assumes full responsibility for our needs when we obey Him wholeheartedly (Stanley).

Father I pray that I may have a different spirit, a spirit of faith, trust, and confidence in You.

INSIGHT

In the midst of all of this, how did the Father feel? He felt totally disrespected and unappreciated. His patience with their disobedience was about maxed out. He had just about enough and was ready to strike. What did the Father do next? If He were in the White House today, He would have picked up the Red Phone, and placed a person-to-person call to the Kremlin. The Father returned to the camp in His glorious splendor, takes Moses aside and says, “we need to talk!”

Numbers 14:11-12

 11 And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?

 12 I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!”

Moses intervened on behalf of the Jewish people and the Father’s anger abated. Moses words are well worth pondering and reflecting upon (Numbers 14:13-19).

The Father relented, and switched from Plan I, immediate death, to Plan S, slow death. Rather than striking the people immediately, the Father condemned them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years and die in it. They would never again see the promised land and certainly not enter into it.

The following is R-rated and not meant for young readers. Yet it is in the Torah, right in the middle of it in the book of Numbers.

Numbers 14:29-34

 29 You will all drop dead in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, every one of you who is twenty years old or older . . . Will die.

 30 You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb and Joshua.

 34 “‘Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years – a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins. Then you will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy.’

Ah, a teachable moment! The lesson is simple. It is far better to have the Father as your friend than as your enemy.

So how does the story end? Not too well for the children of Israel who were over 20 years of age. They all died in the wilderness. Only their children were allowed to enter the promised land. But Joshua became the commander-in-chief of the Army of Israel and successfully led them in battle, for the conquest of the promised land.

What about Caleb? What made him special? The Father singles Caleb out with great affection and admiration. He had a spirit of faith. He followed the Lord with his whole heart. Nothing was held back (Numbers 14:24). When we possess a spirit of faith, the Father enables us to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Time passed and it is now 45 years later. Caleb is 85 years old, undaunted in spirit and body ready to take on all challenges and all challengers.

Joshua 14:6-12

 6 Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the LORD said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea.

 7 I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the LORD, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and brought word back to him as it was in my heart.

 8 For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the LORD my God.

 9 So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the LORD my God.’

 10 “Now, as you can see, the LORD has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise– even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old.

 11 I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then.

 12 So give me the hill country that the LORD promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the LORD is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the LORD said.”

Because of his wholehearted faith and trust, Caleb knew that the Father had his back

And so He did.

One of descendants of Anak made a really big splash about 400 years later during King David’s time, his name was Goliath (Joshua 11:22). But that is a story for another day.

When we align ourselves with God and His will, the Lord takes the battle out of our hands and places it in His. Big enemies become small when God leads the charge (Stanley).

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