Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "We Gather Together"1 (Lyrics)
Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (ESV)
Joshua and Caleb have profoundly influenced my life with their faith and optimism. As two of the twelve spies sent forth to give an account of the promised land, they alone returned with a positive report, in stark contrast to the negative report given by ten of their peers.
When I reflect upon this story, as told in Numbers 13 and 14, I wonder how doubt and pessimism appear to triumph over faith and optimism. Hadn't God freed them from the clutches of Pharaoh, parted the Red Sea (which swallowed their adversaries), fed them with manna, and led them with a highly visible cloud like a flawless GPS? God's faithful, protective presence was with them, loving, leading, and guiding them through their journey.
How, then, does that equate to ten negative reports versus two good reports? The spies had even brought back such a substantial cluster of grapes that it took two men to carry them, among other fruits of the land. Yet, ten were not able to see what Joshua and Caleb were able to see.
When I initially read this story, I needed to identify what the ten spies were missing. Where did they go amiss? I was compelled to do so, because I could relate more to the ten than the two. For me, it boiled down to faith, focus, and follow.
Faith – Joshua and Caleb had great faith, not in themselves or their own abilities, but in God: how He had previously worked in their lives and how He would continue to work in their lives when they trusted and obeyed Him. The ten naysayers had more faith in their opposition than they did in God.
Focus – The ten spies with negative reports were self-focused, rather than God-focused. They viewed the battle as one between themselves like little grasshoppers and their opponents as mighty giants. For the ten, God was altogether missing:
Numbers 13:33 – And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, who come of the giants. And we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. (KJ21)
Follow – The ten followed God through the wilderness, but when faced with this crossroad, they quickly assumed the leadership role, in contrast to Joshua and Caleb, who urged:
Numbers 14:7-9 – 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. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them. (ESV)
Each time I read this story, I am reminded to ask myself, Where am I placing my faith and focus? Am I presently following God?
Prayer: Loving Father, thank You for Your faithful love and fellowship. As we draw near to You in faith, reward us with Your divine guidance and Your presence for all of our days. In Jesus' name, we pray.