But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” – Numbers 13:30 (NLT)
Last week I visited a church in my area and the pastor was discussing a theme centered around the tolerance of sin. He then posed the following question: is our fear of what others think greater than the fear of what God thinks ? He was discussing this in the context of the book of Revelation (which unfortunately I haven’t read fully yet). But after thinking about this, I remembered back to the situation in the book of Numbers and the 12 men that were sent to spy the land of Canaan.
God spoke to Moses at the beginning of Numbers 13 and had him send these twelve spies to scout the area of Canaan, which he promised to the Israelites. But after forty days, ten of the twelve spies returned with discouraging news. The people of Canaan were too powerful and the cities were too fortified to be attacked, said these ten men. They basically threw cold water on God’s plan. But two men set themselves apart from the others. Caleb and Joshua spoke up and said, “The LORD is with us and has defeated the gods who protected them; so don’t be afraid.” (Numbers 14:9, GNT). God was so displeased with the reports from the other ten men that he struck them all with a fatal disease. The remainder of the Israelites who listened to these ten men tried going into battle anyway – but God was not with them, and they were defeated. And they were sentenced to forty years of wandering in the wilderness – one year for each day they spent spying in Canaan. But by standing up to their weak counterparts, Caleb and Joshua found favor with God, and he allowed them both to enter the promised land. Joshua would in fact take command of the people after Moses’ death and lead Israel to great military victories in the land that God promised to his people.
The point I’m just now getting to is, that by their words and actions, Caleb and Joshua proved their loyalty and gave firm answers to the earlier question of: is our fear of what others think greater than what God thinks ? For most of my life, I’ve really struggled with fear over what others think… “maybe I shouldn’t have said that”, “I wonder how this will look to everyone”, “I don’t want to offend anyone”. And as a result, in an effort to please others, I’ve sidestepped what God thinks.
I pray that going forward, I can recall these two strong-willed men, Caleb and Joshua, and remember that what God thinks is all that counts.