So close and yet so far; and the difference was faith. Today’s reading is about the story of Israel’s failure to take the final step of faith into the promised land.
Israel was just south of Canaan, on the cusp of receiving what Abraham had been promised all those years ago! The Lord decided to send influential men from the 12tribes into the Promised Land to do some reconnaissance. They were to bring back some of the fruit of the land, bring back descriptions of the cities and fortresses, and get a general sense of the lay of the land. So the influential leaders spy things out for 40 days. Doubtlessly everyone was anxious to hear what they had to say.
The fruit the came back with was impressive. The reports of the land was that it was indeed a land of milk and honey. But there was a caveat: heavily fortified cities and giants in the land. The report of 10spies was that as good as the land was, it was too difficult to take. Caleb (interestingly, his name means “mad dog”) got up quickly, however, and made the case that despite the obstacles they needed to go in and takes the land, because God was with them. Joshua agreed with him, but the pessimists carried the day and the people got discouraged. They wanted to return to Egypt.
God got angry enough to destroy them all, but Moses interceded on their behalf for forgiveness. Nevertheless, God “sentenced” them to 40 years in the wilderness for the lack of faith in Him. So close!
Close enough that after they regained their senses, some among Israel wanted to go ahead and mount an attack on Canaan, even with out Moses or the Ark. But they are repelled.
Sometimes God is like that on matters of opportunity and steps of faith: Take the step or lose the opportunity perhaps forever. And sadly we are often too much like Israel; we just can’t quite convince ourselves to pull the trigger, even after God has given the green light or the command. We call it being realistic or rational or even responsible, but truthfully we’re just scared. But here’s a principle from the Bible, if ever there was one — if God says go, it’s the right decision to go, always. Yes, there could be complications, but the right thing to do is go! Heroes of faith all faced “complications”, but they went.
Evangelism. Service to someone that puts you out. Forgiving someone. Keeping pure. Staying honest. If He says “Go”, we should go.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.