ension filled the air. Israel stood waiting to hear the report of twelve men appointed by Moses to go on a forty-day reconnaissance trip to explore the land of Canaan that God had promised them. And the twelve were divided. Ten said the inhabitants were powerful, the cities fortified, and giants resided there (Num. 13:27–28). But two men, Caleb and Joshua, gave a different report. In a response briefer than that of the ten, these two leaders said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (v. 30). But the ten retorted, “We can’t” (v. 31). This story and its outcome reveal four truths.
The majority is sometimes wrong.
In the case of the negative report, the majority was wrong. The pessimistic assessment of the ten caused an entire generation of Israelites to die in the desert—everyone twenty-one years of age and older. Imagine the countless funerals to bury the thousands who questioned what God had promised. Sometimes the majority may be right, but not in this case. As William Penn said, “Right is always right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is always wrong, even if everyone is for it.”
God is bigger than circumstances.
Yes, we should consider our circumstances and our environment. But we should not let our circumstances take our eyes off the Lord. When a man asked his friend how he was doing, the response was, “I’m okay under the circumstances.” Then he realized, “What am I doing under there?” Keeping our eyes on the Lord can help us look beyond the circumstances to God’s character and promises.
God’s rewards often require waiting.
When Caleb spied the land, he was forty years old (Josh. 14:7). But he did not possess any of it till he was eighty-five years old (v. 10). Imagine having to wait forty-five years to see the fulfillment of God’s promise.
Waiting is difficult, but the Bible tells us this is what we must do. Twice in Psalm 27:14 the writer tells God’s people to wait on the Lord. And waiting for him is mentioned numerous other times in the Psalms (33:20; 37:7, 34; 38:15; 119:166; 130:5). God’s timing, although it calls for patience, is always best.
The LORD said, “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (Num. 14:24). Although God did not fulfill his promise immediately, the Lord did keep this word about Caleb.
God is our help.
Caleb and Joshua had determination and commitment, but they also placed their confidence in the Lord. In fact, Caleb said, “the LORD helping me, I will drive them [the Canaanites] out just as he [God] said” (Josh. 14:12). And he did. Caleb knew that without the Lord’s help he would fail. And like Caleb, we can carry out God’s will only with the Lord’s help and in his strength.
Are circumstances weighing you down? Do you feel like you are facing giants? Do you feel small as a grasshopper? Keep your eyes on the Lord. Remember that the majority is often wrong, that circumstances need not dictate our actions, that God is present even in delays, and that in all we do, God is our help.
Dr. Roy Zuck’s service to DTS spanned nearly four decades before his death in the spring of 2013. Many of his award-winning articles have appeared in Kindred Spirit.