Wow. There is so much in the book of Numbers. The theme that kept coming back to me again and again though was fear. God’s people at that time lived with so much fear and that fear kept them from God’s best. I’m pretty sure we’re not any different today.
In the introduction to the book of Numbers I shared part of the story about how 12 spies went to check out the amazing land of Canaan that God had promised His people. When they returned, they were overcome with fear and were able to convince what is likely millions people (603,550 males over 20 years of age plus women and children) to abandon God’s plan and live in fear as well. They told the Israelites about how big the people are, how strong the city walls were, and that is just wouldn’t work.
Caleb and Joshua, the other two spies, can’t quite comprehend what’s going on. They saw all the same things, but trusted that when God said they should go, they should go. They were convinced they could conquer… but they couldn’t convince the people and almost ended up being stoned in the process.
The rest of the chapter (14) describes the Israelites complaining that they should have just stayed as slaves in Egypt, God getting mad, Moses pleading to God’s gracious, loving character, God relenting and pardoning, but making it clear that those in that generation would not get to enter the land. There were still consequences of their rebellion.
Two main things came to mind as I reflected on this story. The first is the courage it took for Caleb and Joshua to stand up in the face of all that and trust God. As I heard a teacher once say: they literally were called to be “one in a million”… one voice choosing to follow Christ. Which leads to my second thought: They made this choice of obedience and trust even with all the same data points as the other 10 who chose fear.
A song lyric a new song by Passion (coming out in February) spoke to this concept:
“Fear doesn’t get to sit on Your throne
No, You won’t share your glory.”
This seems to capture what’s happening in Numbers 13 and 14. For 10 of the spies, FEAR became their God… and God wasn’t a fan. He had this huge beautiful gift waiting for them. Yes, it would take some work. Yes, it was scary, but God was calling them to trust. Caleb and Joshua… they understood God’s power and were confident that God was still on His throne and would come through in big ways. They couldn’t wait to see the glory of God and enthusiastically prepared to follow.
What in your life today are you letting sit on God’s throne? Maybe it’s fear… or maybe it’s something different: pride, greed, the approval of others, success, yourself. What could happen in your life and our world today if that idol was dethroned and we let God have his rightful place? What freedom and joy might we experience if we choose to keep our eyes on Jesus? What would it look like to be “one in a million”, courageous in the face opposition?
As another popular song says:
“I’m no longer a slave to fear;
No I am a child of God!”
Let’s live in the promise of that freedom today and be one in a million!