Faithful in the Wilderness

I’ve recently been going through the Bible and reading all of the scriptures about Caleb in the Bible. This led me to reading and meditating upon Numbers 13-14. Here Joshua and Caleb go out with the rest of the spies that God commands to scout the promised to bring a report back. Joshua and Caleb bring back a report of faith, encouraging the people to follow God into the land, and promptly! They were eager to go because of their faith, they were excited to go into the land, into the promise God had for them and His people.

The rest of the spies saw the land through eyes that lacked faith in God. They scared the people into not wanting to enter the land. In fact their report is described as “evil”. To discourage or detract others from God’s will is evil. One of the footnotes in the Amplified Classic version describes it best, “God is what makes the difference between cowards and Calebs”…You see if God is with you and if you are walking in obedience with Him, then who can be against you?

However, the majority of the people were not in-tune with God, they lacked faith because they lacked a devotion to God. The best way to build faith, to build devotion is to devote time in prayer and to cherish time spent in the study of His word. To wait upon the Lord. Shockingly they became so consumed in their fears and self-justified in their way instead of God’s way that they sought to stone Joshua and Caleb after Caleb pled with them to not rebel, but to trust and obey God instead. Not only that, but the crowd decided it would be best to throw Moses and Aaron out of leadership so that they could get a leader that would take them back to Egypt…back into bondage, away from what they perceived to be impending disaster via sword in Canaan.

As many of us know the consequence of this was that they had to wonder 40 more years in the wilderness and every adult besides Joshua and Caleb would perish during that time. Did you ever notice though that it wasn’t just the rebellious ones that suffered? Their children suffered too. In Number 14:32-33 God tells them:

“But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness.

And your children shall be wanderers and shepherds in the wilderness for forty years and shall suffer for your whoredoms (your infidelity to your espoused God), until your corpses are consumed in the wilderness.

After the number of the days in which you spied out the land [of Canaan], even forty days, for each day a year shall you bear and suffer for your iniquities, even for forty years, and you shall know My displeasure [the revoking of My promise and My estrangement].”

We don’t sin in a vacuum. Our sin hurts others. Our sin hurts our children. There are real consequences for listening to the lies of fear and the reasoning of our own hearts rather than living by faith according to God’s commandments and Word.

The children weren’t the only ones to suffer though, so did Joshua and Caleb. So did the members of the congregation that were fully devoted and on-board with God’s plan to enter the promised land. They had to wander the wilderness too, for 40 more years of their life because of the sin of others. They hadn’t done anything wrong! Wouldn’t you be tempted in a situation like that to think “Hey wait a minute, I get that they have to be punished, but why me, I want to obey You, I want to enter the land…” Would you be tempted to leave, to give up on those that tried to stone you and oust God’s ordained leaders? Would you be tempted to test God and question His inclusion of you in the corporate consequences? Joshua and Caleb remained faithful to God though, even as they wondered the wilderness for 40 more years, their children and their families with them.

God is calling each of us to be wholly and fully devoted to Him and to remain faithful to Him, even if we are suffering because of the sins of others. Whether that sin be the sin of our parents or sin within a corporate body that you belong to. Think about our nation. We will suffer consequences as a nation for the decisions of the majority, for the decisions of leaders. In the midst of it all, God call those that are His to remain faithful to Him. To keep our eyes fixed on Him.

Caleb and Joshua did end up entering the promised land. Caleb was 85 years old when he finally got to go into battle for the portion of the land that was his inheritance:

“Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in.” Joshua 15:10-11

God blessed Caleb with strength to fight still, even when he was 85, He was faithful and good to Caleb because Caleb had remained faithful to Him even when he had lost 45 years of his life to the wilderness because of corporate sin…The question is will you and I remain faithful to God in similar situations?

The Israelites are recorded over and over again as grumblers and complainers in the wilderness…grumbling against God. But Caleb is described as a man that was fully devoted to God and Joshua declared that as for him and his house they would serve the Lord. Although the people had wanted to stone them in Numbers 13 and 14, God protected them and these to men of courage didn’t give up because of discouragement, they remained in the places of leadership where God had placed them.

We each have a decision to make. Will we grumble and complain when the sins of others sweep us into a wilderness, a wilderness that is a consequence of another’s sin? Or will we stay steadfast in our trust and obedience to God? Making sure our heart is right, our mouth is pure before the Lord. We are each accountable for our own heart. We must remain faithful, devoted and focused on God, on His blessings and provision…whether or not we are in the wilderness or the promised land.

But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. Numbers 14:24

Lord please help me to have a different spirit than the one that seeks to rule in my flesh. Please fill me with your Spirit. Lord please help me to walk according to the new heart and the new creation that I am in Jesus Christ, as a slave to righteousness instead of as a slave to sin. Lord please help me to remain devoted to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Lord please help me to remain devoted to You and to follow you fully whether it is in the wilderness or in the promised land.