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Pointers along the way #26

Will we receive the promises?
- Jacob Ninan

The story in the Old Testament of the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt to Canaan is well known. It started with the promise of God to take them from slavery to the promised land "flowing with milk and honey." The entire episode is marked with miraculous interventions from God, first in obtaining release from Pharaoh's tyranny in Egypt and then in overcoming what looked like many insurmountable obstacles along the way to Canaan. Finally only two out of the multitude of people who left Egypt entered Canaan. What made the difference?

In Numbers 13 and 14 we read of Israel standing just outside Canaan and sending out twelve spies into Canaan to bring back a report on the situation there. All twelve agreed in reporting that the land was really one flowing with milk and honey, and all twelve reported that there were giants in the land. It was a really good place to go to, but nobody denied that there was real danger facing them if they tried to get in there. The difference came up in their approach to the danger.

Ten of the spies backed out saying that it was too dangerous to go in. They would rather go back to Egypt. All the crowd agreed with them except Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who finally entered Canaan. Their logic was simple. God had promised to take them in. So far He had brought them miraculously through several obstacles. He would do something this time also to fulfil His promise.

God made a judgment that day that divided Joshua and Caleb from the rest of the crowd. He said that because the people refused to trust Him even after having experienced miracle after miracle in the past, they would not be allowed to enter the promised land (Nu.14:11). It was a matter of trust.

Why don't we trust in God, that He will fulfil what He has promised us? Our own faithfulness is important, but that is not the issue here. The question here is whether we would consider God to be trustworthy. If we murmur and complain, it demonstrates exactly the opposite. If we don't believe what He says, or doubt His love, power or wisdom, we would be like the ten spies and the crowd who lost out.

It is not that we pretend that there are no obstacles, or that we believe we can manage quite easily by ourselves. No, sometimes there are some real insurmountable obstacles along the way. It is possible that we look like grasshoppers in front of those giant obstacles, like the ten spies felt. But does that change the fact that God is able to do what He has promised? Let us trust Him.

We are not unrealistic to think that once we trust in Jesus He would just wave away any trouble that comes our way. There would be battles like the ones Joshua and the others discovered once they entered Canaan. But they believed that God was with them, and as they did what God told them to do they came to enjoy more and more peace and rest in the land.