My Bible reading plan has me in the book of Numbers. On Wednesday, I was in Numbers 13 and 14, the story of the spies going into the Promised Land and the rebellion of the people against God because of the negative report of ten of the spies. Amid the people plotting to return to Egypt, Joshua and Caleb, the other two of the spies, speak these words in Numbers 14:8-9: If they Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. (9) Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.
To people who had seen God do incredible things like he parting of the Red Sea, providing manna every day, not to mention the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, Joshua and Caleb are underlying in verse 9 how God is with the people of Israel. The God who took down the superpower of the day, Egypt, is on their side. And yet, the people of Israel are fearing the Canaanites. The people from whom God has removed His protection. The people who are bread to Israel. Joshua and Caleb are declaring that God will move Israel through the Promised Land and its current inhabitants like a high school football team through the buffet at Pizza Ranch. Joshua and Caleb are confident in God’s victory because they are confident in God. Unfortunately, the rest of the spies and people are not. Verse 9 is a verse that seems to cut my soul in two directions. It shines a light on how to live a life of faith – walk in obedience to the God who is with us. But it also reminds me that I can fear something other than God, like people, and I end up walking in rebellion against God.
As we finish this week and prepare to come together to worship on Sunday, maybe we need to take a few moments and ask, “which way am I going in verse 9?” That might be a good question to ask regularly. The people moved toward rebellion because they forgot what God had done for them in the past and what He was promising in the future. Simply asking the question might help bring clarity to my soul about God’s faithfulness in the past and His promises in the future.