Have you ever noticed that in Deuteronomy chapter two when Moses is giving a summary of Israel’s wonderings, that the LORD had taken His people on a circuit of examples of His ability to give them the land? Forty years earlier the Israelites had rebelled against the Lord’s command to posses the land by lacking the faith and giving into the fear of the possibility of being defeated by the men of renown. As a result, the Lord swore in His wrath that that generation would not enter His rest in Canaan, but would be assigned to wondering the wilderness until they had died off. Rather than being courageous enough (like Caleb and Joshua) to take the good land they shrank back in fear and doubted the Lord. Rather than resting they had to wonder restlessly for forty years.
As Moses was recounting the journey in chapter two, notice that there is a pattern of God demonstrating His faithfulness and might to Isreal as He gave the land of the giants to the other nations in times past. As God led Israel to each of these locations He did not permit them to take anything from those people because He had given them their own portion. Interestingly enough, each of these nations displaced the mighty men of renown. Esau took Mt. Seir, the Moabites took Ar, and the Ammonites displaced the Avim and Caphtorim. All of these displaced people were the mighty men of renown which Israel was afraid of. It was as if God was saying, “You doubt My ability to give you Canaan? Look at all the times I defeated the giants in these places. Is it too hard for Me to do the same for you in Canaan?” Thankfully the next generation was courageous to obey God’s word, as they took up the command to defeat King Sihon and King Og. It was a prelude of their conquest of Canaan.
On a side note, back when Israel had realized they sinned in not wanting to take Canaan, they came to Moses and said they changed their mind and that they were ready to take the land. But God was not with them this time. Moses told them not to go to war because God was not going to give them victory. Nevertheless, the stubborn people girded themselves for war and attempted to fight the Amorites. Just as Moses had said, they tucked tail in a shameful defeat. He described the pitiful event as the Amorites chasing them as bees do a man. If God had been with them it would have been the other way around.
So what can we learn from all of this? We learn that is foolish, and sometimes fatal, to doubt God’s might and His faithfulness to give us the victory when He has commanded it. If we take our eyes off of our circumstances and the things that cause fear within us, and place our eyes on God’s faithful character and infinite might then we will be courageous like Caleb and Joshua to defeat the “giants” in our lives. Conversely, if we choose to dwell on the might of the enemy and our finite strength then defeat awaits us. Furthermore, if we try claim victory over our sin and the enemy in our own strength then we will taste bitter defeat just as the presumptuous Israelites did. If we remain in His will then we are shielded by His power and possess the ability to be victorious, but if we remove ourselves from His provision then we will experience frustrating defeat.
So what is God’s rest? The book of Hebrews teaches that Jesus Christ is God’s rest for us. It is in Him that we experience rest from being His enemy, the weariness of un-forgiveness, the bitterness of sin, and the work of salvation. If people fail to believe God that Jesus is His way of salvation then, sadly, they will not enter His rest. In like manner, if the believer has a lapse of faith in whatever way then he or she will miss out on the benefits of Christ. It is the repentant and contrite heart that enters God’s rest.
So then, which person will we be? Will we be a Joshua or Caleb who had great faith, or will we be of the generation who perished in the wilderness for a lack of faith? I choose to be a Caleb.
I hope to make these word’s of Caleb and Joshua a constant prayer of mine in this walk of faith, for with God all things are possible.
Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. 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. 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.
And don’t forget, walking in this kind of faith does not always yield favorable results because the next verse says the people took up stones to kill them for saying these words. I pray I never fear man more than God.
Featured photo credit: https://www.ou.org/life/inspiration/you-gotta-have-faith-faith-faith-why-emunah-is-a-choice-and-not-a-leap/