What If You Can’t See What You Believed For?
Has the pain, abuse, and unfairness of your life erased God’s promises to you? You believed, but where are they? Instead of your Promised Land, all you see for miles around is desert. This post is for you. Caleb, through no fault of his own, finds himself in exactly the same situation. Check this out.
Chaos on the Verge of Victory
The Israelites had been miraculously delivered from Egypt. They’d seen God’s wonders and his glory over and over again in the desert. They tasted the sweetness of his faithfulness, and also the sting of his discipline at their rebellion (more than once).
But now, all that is just about to pay off. They’re at the borders of the Promised Land and just about to enter their inheritance. And that’s when it gets insane. All chaos breaks loose. The insanity in your life means God wants to break in and do something.
First, there’s internal attack. Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ co-leaders, more than that, his siblings, his own family, start bad-mouthing him (Numbers 12). It’s the struggle of religion vs God’s heart, the very same struggle that nailed Jesus to the cross. Miriam and Aaron don’t think Moses is following the rules properly. Actually, he is, but not according to their understanding. In fact, their case against Moses is really thinly veiled jealousy. The Lord has none of it and comes to Moses’ defense. God settles it quickly by turning Miriam leprous for a week.
Do you struggle with internal chaos, internal condemnation no matter what you do? God is on the verge of a breakthrough in your life.
Then there’s external attack. Moses sends twelve spies to explore the Promised Land (Numbers 13). They all come back with the same report. The land is awesome, it’s flowing with milk and honey just like the Lord said. They bring back some of the fruit, huge grapes and other goodies. Oh, and by the way, the land’s filled with giants who are much stronger than we are. We looked like grasshoppers to them. The external obstacles are insurmountable.
Although they all agree on the state of the land, it’s inhabitants, and what they found, the twelve spies have two opposing recommended courses of action. Ten of the spies are terrified and say there’s no way we can do this. We’ll get slaughtered.
Men of Faith
But the other two, Joshua and Caleb, are all for taking the land. They have a promise from God that he’ll be with them and they can do it. So I imagine it goes down something like this:
Ten Spies: “The people in the land are huge giants, infinitely bigger and stronger and more powerful than us!”
Joshua and Caleb: “I know, right! It’s going to be exhilarating beating those guys! I can’t wait, let’s go! This is going to be so epic! They’ll sing songs about us for centuries! We have a promise from God, we can’t lose! Stinks to be them. Let’s go do this!”
But the other ten convince the people not to trust God and rebel. They talk about stoning Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, heading back to Egypt, and just forgetting the whole thing. Quitting. This is not what we thought it would be. It’s just too hard. Time to cut and run.
Are you going to quit on the promise of God in your life?
When life gets impossible, God’s promise is on the verge of fulfillment. Just like with the Israelites, the hardest struggles, both internally and externally, are on the borders of our Promised Land.
And you know the scariest part about this? God honors your choice. The people rejected God’s promise and chose to believe in their fear instead. And you could say they benefitted from it. They lived out their lives in safety, not having to take the risks that God’s promises required. But it was a hard, meaningless, bland life in the desert, on the border of God’s rejected promises. Nothing horrifically bad happened. But nothing amazingly good happened either. Like a ship chained to the dock, or a Lamborghini that never sees the light of day outside the garage, they all died in the desert of complacency. How sad. Don’t let this be your tragedy.
Was It Worth the Wait?
I think the saddest part is, Joshua and Caleb also waited 40 years. That’s the part that seems really unfair to me. Even though they had nothing to do with it, they were caught in the consequences of their unbelieving community. They were ready to grab God’s promises with both hands, but they had to wait 40 years too.
But it was worth it! They did eventually see the fulfillment of God’s promises in their lives. And this is the most amazing part of the story — how Caleb finally entered the Promised Land. Think about this.
It would have been easy for his passion to grow cold through the pain of life. He could’ve turned bitter over the unfairness of it all. 40 years in the desert? Are you kidding me?!? Many of us turn bitter in the desert. Do you know someone who has? Have you?
But Caleb didn’t. He just became more and more determined to seize God’s promises when he finally got the chance. Listen to him talk to Joshua, who had seceded Moses as leader, when the people are finally ready, 40 years later, to enter the Promised Land, really this time.
Keep in mind reading this that in war, you want the high ground. So the “hill country” Caleb’s talking about here is where the enemies have the high ground. It’s the hardest land to take by far. There are only two types of people who would even attempt it. Soon to be dead fools who don’t have a lick of common sense, or soon to be victorious recipients of a promise from God.
Caleb to Joshua: “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was 40 years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’
“Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for 45 years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, 85 years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites [the giants] were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” (Joshua 14:6b-12)
The guy was 85 and wanting to go take the hardest part of the land! And this time, he would not be put off. He had yet another promise from God he was believing. I could see people saying, “But dude, you’re 85! How about you plan the battle, but we’ll go do the heavy lifting on this one.”
Caleb: “Don’t you ‘but dude’ me! I’ve been waiting 45 years for this, and I’m going giant-whomping!”
The Wait Magnified the Blessing
And you know what? The “unfair” delay really wasn’t. It made Caleb’s character shine all the more brightly and made his victory all the more spectacular. The promises of God triumph over the pain and unfairness of life.
God didn’t forget about Caleb. And he hasn’t forgotten you.
Do you know God wants to talk to you? Yes, you!
Visit Dave at IdentityWholeness.com.