A different spirit ∙

A different spirit

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

Numbers 14:6-9

 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 wonderful!

 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!”

So Near and Yet So (Cole Porter)

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 of Israel were skeptical and mistrustful. The Father faithfully led them to the promised land. They were on its outskirts, right at the border. But they remained incongruously 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). The twelve spies went together, and all saw the same things. But their observations and reactions could not have been more different. The condition of their hearts predisposed their responses.

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

When the twelve spies returned to the camp, they reported what they saw. Two diametrically opposed reports were given. One was an evil report. It focused on all of the obstacles. There were large, fortified cities and giants (Nephilim). They concluded their report by 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 the fear and doubt in their hearts.

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

Numbers 14:8-9

 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!”

What did the people do? They believed the evil report!

Numbers 14:1-3, 10

 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?”

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

It is tempting to say their response seems unbelievable. But we might have done the same thing under similar circumstances. Fear can grab and dominate anyone’s heart.


The courage and faith of Joshua and Caleb were exemplary. What sets them apart? It is pretty simple. They took the Father at His Word. They believed all that the Father said and put their complete 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.


The people of Israel disrespected the Father. They snubbed Him. This was not a one-time act. Sadly, it was their standard operating procedure.

This is one of the rare moments in Scripture where the Father’s patience maxed out. He was furious. What did the Father do next? The Father returned to the camp in His glorious splendor. He takes Moses aside, and in so many words, He says, “We have to talk!”

Numbers 14:11 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?”

The potential for immediate death for the people of Israel loomed on the horizon. Moses intervened on their behalf, and the Father’s anger abated. Moses’ words are well worth reflecting upon (Numbers 14:13-19).

Entering the promised land was “off the table for that generation.” They did not want to enter the promised land, so the Father ensured they never would. They were doomed to remain in the wilderness. Rather than striking the people immediately, the Father condemned them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. They would die in it. They would never again see the promised land nor enter it. The Father switched from Plan I, immediate death, to Plan S, slow death.

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 . . ..

 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.

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? It did not end well for the children of Israel 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, successfully leading them in battle and conquering the promised land.

What about Caleb? The Father puts the spotlight on Caleb. What made him special?  He had a different spirit, a spirit of faith. He followed the Lord with his whole heart. Nothing was held back (Numbers 14:24). At age 85; he was undiminished in spirit and body. He was ready to take on all challenges and all challengers. Because of his convictions, he was fearless. Caleb was completely confident that the Father had his back. And so He did (Hebrews 11:1).

When we possess a spirit of faith, the Father enables us to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. “An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men” (Thomas Fuller).

“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).


One thought on “A different spirit ∙

  1. This story covers what we are experiencing in this world today…easily. Now more than ever, we need to cling to the rock of Jesus.


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