Numbers 13 & Joshua 2 – Lessons in Partnering with God

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In Numbers 13 we read about the 12 spies who went into the land and decided that tackling the promised land shouldn’t be on their agenda. Although the produce of the land was good and abundant, ten of the spies believed that land was too formidable for them to conquer. Right away you get a clue that their focus is in the wrong place, “They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.” – (Num 13:27). The problem is Moses didn’t send them. God did (Num 13:1). Their focus has already shifted from a God-initiated and promised activity to a man-initiated one. The next word they say was not what you want to hear at this point…”But” (13:28). Yep…the land is great. It’s just like God said. But. We are took weak. They are too strong. We can’t do it. We are afraid.

This is when Caleb and Joshua stepped up and put their faith in God’s promise into action saying, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” When C&J say “We” you can be their “We” is different than the “we” of the other ten spies who reply, “But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” It is pretty clear that Caleb and Joshua’s we included God and the ten’s did not. If that is true, both groups were right. The ten were right. Left without God in the picture and his power and wisdom they couldn’t do it. The two were right. With God fighting for them it could be done. The question for us is, are the things we doing inclusive of God? Or better yet, are we participating with God in what he is initiating and doing in the world today? or are we going it alone, attempting to find victory through our own power and ability? How you answer that question changes your perspective on what you do in life from “I can or can’t” to “We can”.

Fast forward forty years to Joshua 2. Joshua and the Israelites send two spies into the land saying to them, “”Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” (Joshua 2:1). Ever wonder if that number had anything to do with the last time they sent spies? This time they come back with a favorable report, “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.” (Joshua 2:24). What I find interesting about this report is that it doesn’t contain the things one might expect to hear from spies –  No chariot count, no report of the weaknesses of the city, when the gates open and shut, or what kind of weapons they have. Why such a favorable report lacking all the “relevant” military information? They weren’t there to spy out the strategy or strength of the land because their report would have reflected it. All they did was go in the city, talk to a prostitute, and run for their lives and yet they came back with a favorable report! They knew God had given them the land due to Rahab’s report. She confirmed everything God had told them – the land was theirs, the people were afraid, etc.

Sometimes, like the 10 spies in Numbers 13, I am looking for things that aren’t important or confirm the wrong things. If God wants to win a battle what are we looking for? Are we looking for our own strategy of how our power will bring down the walls or are we looking for confirmation of what God’s plan is and how he will do it when we partner with him. God could have said, “Give me thirty seconds and the land will be empty, all destroyed, and you can move in.” But he didn’t. He partnered with them, expected them to act in faith, and he did all that was necessary to win the battle. If our faith is going to grow we have to stop looking for how we are going to get it done and start to try and see how God is going to do it.

It is important for us to realize that we don’t get let in on all the details of what is going to happen or how and that is important because if we were there would be little reason for faith. For instance, ever wonder if the first time they sent spies that the people in the land were already afraid? Think about it, Rahab’s report of what God had done were events that happened forty years ago and yet those events still struck fear in the hearts of the people in the land. Don’t you think the inhabitants of Canaan were quaking in their boots back in Numbers? And yet the Israelites doubted and feared them. When God tells us to be strong and to not be afraid, don’t you think he already knows how it is going to work out? The battles might look impossible but not with God. In Christ the victory is already won. But still there are times we have to step up and march around the city walls and wait to see God bring them down.

0 Responses

  1. it’s amazing how joshua and caleb’s names have been memorialized over and over again through reuse in numerous cultures and languages.

    but when’s the last time you met someone named igal, palti, or nahbi…?

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