Taking The Land

(Originally posted 6-15-17)

One of the passages God has been speaking through to me lately has been Numbers 13. For context, this is the account of the spies of Israel being sent into the Promised Land. If you recall the story, you remember that this was the point where Moses selected leaders from each of the 12 tribes to scout out the land of Canaan. Canaan was part of the inheritance; the land God said He would give to Israel. Each of these leaders were men we assume Moses selected because of their maturity and depth of faith and devotion to God. These men were the best of the best and chosen because they were dependable, reliable, and would do the job well. This journey into Canaan would be their opportunity to scout out the land and determine how Israel would go about taking it.

Well, if we read all of Numbers 13 and into 14, we realize a majority of these men were not so reliable and not so confident in the Lord’s power to deliver. In fact, of the 12 spies, 10 had a bad report about the land and deemed it too big and too difficult to conquer:
But the men who had gone up…responded, “We can’t go up against the people because they are stronger than we are!” So they gave a negative report to the Israelites about the land they had scouted: “The land we passed through to explore is one that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of great size.” Numbers 13:31,32
Only 2 spies, Joshua and Caleb, reported positively about the land. They admitted it had some giants to conquer but God would surely be with them:
Then Caleb quieted the people in the presence of Moses and said, “We must go up and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!” Numbers 13:30
In chapter 14, Joshua encouraged the assembly to rise up and take the land:
“The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us. Only don’t rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us. Don’t be afraid of them!” Numbers 14:7-9
Upon reading this account, I have to wonder what went wrong with the spies? Why did they refuse to believe God could take them into the Promised Land? They had seen first-hand many of His miraculous provisions: the 10 plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, God’s distribution of manna, a cloud guiding by day and a pillar of fire by night…the list goes on. Why did they doubt that He would bring them through these battles? I believe it was because the land involved a stretching of their faith that they were unwilling to go through. It was a step too far, too unknown, and too risky and the majority of people weren’t comfortable with it.
If we’re completely honest, the majority of us as Christians aren’t comfortable stepping out either. Sure the idea of being in the Promised Land sounds great. But the journey and the road it takes to get there does not. This is not a path for the faint of heart; following and pursuing Christ must stretch us at times to a point where God has to show up if we are to succeed (for further reading, see Faith Must Push Our Boundaries). If there are some lessons and principles we can gather from this passage, I believe it is the following:
1. Taking the land will always stretch our comfort level
Make no mistake, stepping out in faith is a place we don’t naturally go. We make plans for safety and security. We enjoy attaining a certain level of comfort and predictability. But the more I study Scripture, the more I understand God is with those who go out and boldly proclaim His Name…whether that is safe or unsafe. Stepping into the land comes first after getting a sense of God’s call. He burdens your heart for what He is planning for you to do. After embracing and starting to actualize the call in your head, the next step is simply to obey and go forward. It will stretch you and the thing God is calling you to do today might look bigger and riskier than what He called you to do yesterday, or last month, or last year. But I believe God gives us more as He deems us able to handle it. A deepening of our faith should always stretch us in some way or another.
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Luke 16:10
2. There is no room for fear to coexist with faith
“You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Those were the words of Jesus to Peter when Jesus rescues Peter from drowning in Matthew 14. Peter stepped out onto the water desiring to walk to Jesus. When he starts to notice the wind and waves, he begins to sink. Jesus addresses the very thing that held Peter back. It’s the same thing that held back 10 of the 12 spies. It’s what holds us back as well: fear, doubt, and anxiety. These are the things that can’t exist within a believer if he or she is truly desiring to follow after Christ. What it comes down to is a level of faith inspired by the Holy Spirit which then causes that faith to move towards trust. The trust we place in Jesus is built upon love; perfect love. It is this love that casts out our fear. There is no room for fear when you trust in perfect love. As you grow in love for the Lord, worry starts to melt and you realize He really can move mountains and conquer giants. At that point, it’s time to take the land!
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18
3. Disobedience can bring God’s judgement
This point could be taken with some controversy, but in no way is it meant to be. I simply believe that not following God’s will for our lives opens the door for disobedience in our hearts. With disobedience comes the potential for God’s judgement and correction. It was Israel’s disobedience to the Lord that led to 40 years of wandering in the desert. There was a direct correlation between their decision not to follow and God’s punishment which kept them from inheriting the land. I’ve come to the realization that sometimes the most natural thing we choose (i.e. staying safe and secure) is not the path God ultimately wants us to take. And by choosing the opposite route, we can incur some sort of punishment or at least a “wake up call” that is meant to realign us again to God’s will. God did this with Israel when they chose to listen to the 10 spies. He did this with Jonah when he chose not go to Ninevah. Even Jesus offers a rebuke to the disciples who did not believe He had truly risen: Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. Mark 16:14
I’m not sure how this looks for you and I don’t want to project any sort of belief here that an apparent circumstance you are going through is the direct result of disobedience. Suffice to say, I do see this pattern in Scripture which suggests that God holds us accountable for what we do (or not do) in this life. I believe we can bring about certain results by not obeying the very thing God tells us to do. At the very least, we may suffer His rebuke and correction for a wrong path we may find ourselves on. If you have questions about this specific point, I’d love to talk further.

In closing today’s entry, I will mention once again that what I write and share are the thoughts and feelings already going on within me. I’ve been wrestling lately with the idea of taking the land. God has shown me some things and has burdened my heart for certain opportunities. But I know they are big and appear as giants. How can they be conquered? How can I not feel like the 10 spies who dug in their heels and said “nope, not gonna do it"? If your spirit resonates with this topic, how can we pray for each other? I would love to do that and start the process of accountability. Through that, we can stop letting fear and lies hold us back from stepping into our God-ordained promise. The land is there and I believe if God has called us to it, it’s ours for the taking. Let’s go!

I love you guys! Be encouraged and be blessed.
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