It was time to reclaim the promise.
The Israelites had been walking around in the wilderness for forty long years. The time had come to enter the promised land. A journey that was supposed to take only a few weeks turned into forty long years. For many in the group, they had not been alive when Moses received the instruction from God to leave Egypt and pursue the promised land. Their lives began along the journey. While they did not know what oppression looked like, they did know what wilderness living looked like, and for them, it was normal — not Joshua and Caleb. They had been part of the first group of men to spy out the land, and they lived and breathed the promise. Do you remember the story? After leaving Egypt, Moses led the people toward this new land that had been promised by God.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers, you shall send a man, every one a leader among them. Numbers 13: 1-2 NKJ
As you can see, THE LORD gave the instructions to Moses, which he obeyed. Gathering twelve men, one appropriately from each tribe, he sent them off to scout out this land. This wasn’t an “overnight” trip. Forty days had gone by when they returned. While visiting this new land, the men were instructed to look for specific things. In Numbers 13, verses 17-20, you can read what they were looking for. Here are a few key markers that they were to inquire about:
- Were the people who lived there strong or weak?
- Were cities like camps or strongholds?
- Was the soil in this new territory rich or poor for growing crops?
Moses told the men to be strong, instructing them to bring back some of the fruit of the land if it was good! On their journey, they saw large clusters of grapes, so they cut down a branch and carried it between two men on a pole. Along with the grapes, they brought some pomegranates and figs. This land seemed to be not only amazing but fruitful! Joshua and Caleb couldn’t wait to get back and report to Moses. However, their anticipated report didn’t go as planned.
The twelve men arrived back to where they had started their expedition. Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites gathered at the Wilderness of Para to hear their report. Before Joshua and Caleb had a chance to speak, the other ten spies spoke up and gave this report:
“We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless, the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.” Numbers 13:27-29 (NKJV)
Caleb, hearing this report, tried to turn the conversation to the positive side by saying,
“Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” Numbers 13:30 (NKJV)
But it was too late. Fear had already taken hold of those within listening range and spread like wildfire through the crowd. Fear has a way of doing that. The chapter ends with these words:
“They gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land.”
When you read on, you will find that this report changed everything. This defining moment led the Israelites to wander forty long years in the wilderness. What’s more, all of the men who gave the bad report, and those who believed them, that were older than twenty years, were told they would not see the promised land. However, there was one exception, Joshua and Caleb. They would live to see the Promised Land, BUT would have to live through the forty years like everyone else.
Fast forward, forty years. (If only that were possible) Joshua is now the leader, and the Israelites have entered the Promised Land. The time has now come to divide the land between the twelve tribes, so each tribe leader came to Joshua to receive their inheritance. Remember, ten men, representing their ten tribes, had not seen the vastness of the area yet. However, two men had, Joshua and Caleb. Caleb is now eighty-five years old when he steps forward to RECLAIM his portion for his tribe, the Tribe of Judah. You can read it in Joshua 14.
Caleb says to Joshua, “Give me the land that the Lord spoke about forty years ago. I am ready.” Forty years had passed, and Caleb had lived through every trial and hardship right along with everyone else, and yet his resolve remained. He also learned many lessons and saw the hand of God provide for their needs. God wasted nothing.
Our theme for 2020 is based on this truth. Our hearts and resolve should be positioned in such a manner that we are ready to RECLAIM those promises God has spoken to our hearts. I don’t know God’s timing for your life, and certainly not for my life, but I do know that God is a promise keeper. I also know that we have to keep living our lives faithfully for Him while we wait. There is a song that came out in 2017 called “Take Courage,” by Bethel Music. I have a love/hate relationship with this song, or at least the words. Read or listen to the song here
For most of us, waiting isn’t what we do best. We live in a time where everything can seem almost immediate. We search online for something we need or want, and then expect it to arrive the next day or at the worst two or three days later. God doesn’t work that way. Could it be that our journey is as important as the destination? Based on how Caleb lived while he waited, I want to share three words with you, that I hope will become a part of who you are this year.
Caleb was bold in his approach to Joshua. He knew what God has said to him. For forty years, he has been rehearsing the promise. What has God said to you? Don’t forget what God has told you. Keep bold in your faith and be bold with God.
“Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
Being brave doesn’t mean you are not afraid. Bravery means you have the strength to face danger, even if you are scared. Caleb knew that if God was with him, he could face a threat ahead.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1 (NKJV)
JOY is not based on our present circumstances. Joy is based on hope. Hope is the ability to see what is not yet in front of you. The saying, “You have to SEE it, before you SEE it,” rings true. God wants you to live joyfully, and you can, because we serve a GOD OF HOPE.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NKJV)
PRAYER: This year, we will RECLAIM the promises that have not been fulfilled in our lives. As we wait, Jesus, help us to boldly approach you, bravely pursue you, and joyfully live like your daughter. Amen.
Welcome to 2020! Let’s Chase Truth together this year and RECLAIM God’s best for our lives!