They were done! They had hit the wall! They were ready to tap out!
“Enough,” they said. “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt,” they said.
After forty days spying out the promised land the majority had voted: “Uh, uh! No way! No go!”
Sure, it really was a land full of bounty, but it was also a land full of bullies. Really, really big bullies–so big that the spies “seemed to ourselves like grasshopper.” (Num. 13:33). And they knew bullies liked to crush grasshoppers under their feet. So, they said, let’s go home.
They had a fear problem. They had a “let’s be realistic” problem. They had a “who are we compared to them” problem. But something Joshua and Caleb, the minority opinion, said in rebuttal reminds me that, ultimately, what they had was a faith problem.
And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.”
(Numbers 14:6-8 ESV)
I think they were all in agreement as to the facts. Fact: the land was exceedingly good. No disputing it flowed with milk and honey. If this was where they were to hang their hats, then the journey was worth it all.
Fact: God, by the very nature that He is God, was able to give them the land. An omnipotent God is no match for an oversized bully. A God who delivers from Egypt can deposit in Canaan. A God who parts the sea can tame the land.
So what was the problem? It was a faith problem. A “do I believe what I really say I believe” problem. It was an “if” problem . . . “If God delights in us.”
If He really takes pleasure in us . . . if He truly longs to incline Himself toward us . . . if He, for sure, desires us . . . then no problem that an all-powerful God can fulfill His covenental promise.
What they had was a faith problem. They didn’t, at a heart of heart level, believe that the Almighty God of creation delighted in them.
And I’m thinking that maybe that’s why we sometimes tap out because of fear. Or lose the drive to pursue the promise. Or head back to Egypt because it’s not working for us on the pilgrim way. We don’t really think that God delights in us. Sure, we’ll quote John 3:16 and how God so love the world, but we’re not really sure He so loved us . . . that He so loves us.
Maybe it’s because the accuser continually seeks to remind us of our failures and minimizes His forgiveness–that the blood of Christ really does “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1Jn. 1:9). Maybe it’s because we feel like we’ve been wandering in the wilderness so long that any anticipation of a promised land seems like pie-in-the-sky. Maybe it’s just because we’re weary, and weary people often don’t feel like people that someone else, much less the God of creation, is all that crazy about.
So maybe, just maybe, we need a renewed sense that God really does delight in His people. And know again, by faith, that we are His people.
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty One who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 ESV)
Because of grace. For His glory.