30 November, 2012
A Lesson from the Children of Israel
Most of us know the story of the children of Israel when they came to the edge of the promised land and they sent in the 12 spies. We are familiar with the part where the spies go in, spy out the land and come back with their glowing reports that the land is everything that God had promised it would be. And we know the part where 10 of the spies chose to focus on the fact that there were giants in the land and that they felt like they could not defeat the giants, even though God had already told them that He had already given them the land and that no enemy could stand against them. They were so consumed with fear and believing what they saw, rather than what God said, that they refused to go into the land. They could not see that this land was legally and rightfully theirs and that God was telling them to go in and possess what was rightfully theirs. But fear caused them to surrender what belonged to them and hand it over to their enemy. (The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy). Two spies encouraged the people that with the help of God, they were well able to drive these trespassers out of their land, but the people listened to and gave into the naysayers who spoke and birthed fear in their hearts. Somehow they forgot that this was the same God who delivered them out of Egypt, carrying with them the wealth of Egypt. They forgot how God opened the Red Sea allowing them to cross over on dry land and then closed up the sea killing those that tried to oppose them. Over and over God did the miraculous for them, yet on the verge of their crossing over and living in the fullness of God's blessing, they allowed fear to blind their eyes and cloud their minds.
As a result of their lack of faith and disobedience, God told them that they were trading their destiny of promise and taking in it's place a life time of living in wilderness. I've often thought about how terrible that had to be. For the next 40 years they wandered the wilderness with an entire generation dying in that wilderness. The worst part is that they were never more than a few days journey from that promised land, but they could never enter into it, because they refused to go forward when God told them to go. When they heard that God was going to take them back into the wilderness and they'd never enter the promised land, they said, "Oh... wait a minute God... we've changed our minds! We'll go in now. But God said "no!" They tried to go into the land on their own, and they were beaten soundly by an army they should have easily beat. That's what happens when we try to do things out of God's will and timing. It may have been God's plan for you 2 months ago, but when you refused His plan and did things your way, you lost the right to enter into the blessing that should have been yours. When you hear and know the mind of God, yet choose another way because it sounds good to you and your own wisdom, you invite the calamity upon yourself. We need always remember that if we try to do what God wants us to do, when God wants us to, he will certainly help us. But when we try to do things our own way, we are doomed to fail. We may feel really good about ourselves and our plan for a season... but sooner or later we will learn that we would have been much better off if we had obeyed God. Sadly, we often forfeit the right to the fullness of God's blessing because we are stiff necked people. It is important to note, God still loved them. God still provided for them. But they never fulfilled their destiny nor ate of the fruit of promise... because they chose what was wise in their own eyes rather than what God was asking them to do.
Sadly, people and churches miss this all the time. That younger guy sure seems to be the wise choice as pastor... but when we don't follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, we curse the entire "tribe" to wander the wilderness and we miss out on what God was ready to do in our midst. And just as it was with the children of Israel, once we've made up our mind to rebel against God's plan, it's too late. He'll still love us, care for us and provide for us... but we forfeit the promise that was ours for the taking.