When we feel these emotions welling up inside, we need to stop and take a look at Caleb and Joshua. If anyone had any justification for anger and bitterness it was those two.
Caleb and Joshua were two of the twelve spies sent into the Promise Land to scout it out for Moses and the Israelites. Ten of the spies came back with a bad report.
“The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours it inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.” Numbers 13:32
Caleb and Joshua countered, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. . . and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” Numbers 14:7,9
But Israel didn’t believe it. You see, fear had overcome them. Even though they had seen God hurl plagues on the Egyptians (Exodus 7-13), even though they had seen God part the Red Sea (Exodus 14), even though they had seen Pharaoh drown (Exodus 14), even though they had been fed manna from heaven (Exodus 16), even though they had seen water pour forth from the rock (Exodus 17), the ten spies said the Promised Land was full of giants. I mean, surely they couldn’t fight giants!
Caleb and Joshue tore their clothes. “No, no!” They cried. “Remember the Lord!” What were they saying? Don’t you remember what God has already done for you!?
The people wouldn’t listen. They FEARED the people of the land. They just KNEW they would be killed and their children would become prey if they tried to conquer it!
God was angry.
“Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Eqypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to my voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it.” Numbers 14:22-23
God says the unbelieving people would not enter the land because of their fear. Caleb and Joshua are singled out. They would enter the land. But here is the kicker. They would have to wait until all the people who had “spurned” God were dead.
God explains the children of those unbelieving people, Joshau, and Caleb had to be “shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for [the unbelieving Israelites] unfaithfulness, until [the unbelieving Israelites] corpses lie in the wilderness.” Numbers 14:33 (explaination mine).
Joshua and Caleb were ready to go into the land but they had to wait, in the wilderness, until all their fellow unbelieving Isrealites perished.
Hot-freakin’-dog! That is quite something isn’t it? I mean, can you say GRUDGE. BITTERNESS. RESENTMENT!
We don’t hear about any type of grudge on Caleb and Joshua’s part. We only see quiet acceptance. I just don’t know if I would have it in me. I would be jumping up and down in a fit of rage. What! WHAT!
I would be hotter than a firecracker if I had to wait FORTY YEARS!
I think sometimes we get our panties in a wad because of things out of our control: someone in our family needs help, our car breaks down, we are laid off from the job we knew would help us “make it.” I mean it wasn’t in the PLAN. We think, “This is NOT what we expected or asked for. This is not RIGHT!”
If you can relate, think of Caleb and Joshua. Think of living with the very people who caused you forty years of banishment.
But maybe Joshua and Caleb’s time of waiting, maybe our times of waiting, are God’s way of getting us BACK TO THE BARN. Maybe those seasons of “going nowhere but in circles” are teaching us something.
Maybe they are teaching us faith.
Do you remember what Jesus said? “According to your faith it will be done to you.” (Matthew 9:29). If those unbelieving Jews had tried to enter the Promised Land with the faith they had they would have been slaughtered. They were still – unfathomabley – relying on their own strength and not on God’s strength. They had seen the miracles and still thought it was “them” that had to conquer the Promised Land. Can you fathom it?
Of course you can. We do it all the time.
One minute we are believing God and the next we assume that He has taken a vacation and we need to do it ourselves. It is a daily battle. Isn’t it?
I mean, the Israelites thought they had to fight the battle themselves. They didn’t understand that it was their FAITH in the One who could CRUSH the enemy with the breath from His nostrils (Psalm 18:15).
According to your faith it will be done to you.
That doesn’t mean things will always happen the way you like if you have faith. There have been countless petitions to the throne of grace with full faith and humility and still a loved one dies, a job is lost, a child is sick. But what it does mean is that the faith you have determines the heights that you can achieve.
According to your faith it will be done to you.
The Isaelites in the wilderness didn’t have the faith of a mustard seed. I hope they gained their faith back before the were “corpses in the wilderness.”
Joshua and Caleb could have wallowed in bitterness for 40 years, but Joshua and Caleb’s faith only increased as they were sharpening their battle axes.
And the children of those unbelievers? They grew in the faith, and they sharpened their battle axes with them.
“Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” (Matthew 7:20)
Mountains in scripture represent kingdoms (Isaiah 2:2, Daniel 2:35). Jesus was telling His disciples, if you just have the faith of a mustard seed kingdoms will move for you.
The next generation of those unbelieving Israelites had that faith, and kingdoms moved for them as they entered the Promised Land.
If you feel like you are going nowhere – make this a season of faith-building. If you are battling bitterness, study Joshua and Caleb and learn from their strength.
God is into faith-building because the bigger the faith, the greater the heights you can achieve. Not by earthly standards, but by kingdom standards. Your faith can move “mountains.”
Just think, Jesus preached “the kingdom of heaven” everywhere He want. And mountains (kingdoms) moved. Soon they all will topple (Daniel 2:.35)
All it takes is a little bit of faith.
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