Considering the Old Testament readings from March 16th and 17th; I want to explore the certainty that risk is woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. Because we often delude ourselves into thinking we hold sway over the outcome of unfolding events, we wrongly ascribe a false sense of security to our realm of control. What happens when we do not escape from the enchantment of this fallacy? What happens if we live in this mirage of safety?
Less than three years after the people of Israel came out of Egypt by the Hand of God, they found themselves on the border of the Promised Land. In Numbers 13:2 the Lord says to Moses, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel.” Moses sends Joshua, Caleb, and ten other men.
After 40 days they return with a huge cluster of grapes hung on a pole between two men, illustrating the abundance and blessing of the land. In Numbers 13:30 Caleb, after quieting the people, exclaims, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.” Yet in verse 31, excluding Joshua, the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.”
Caleb was unable to explode the myth of safety within the other spies and those that followed them. The people were gripped by the enchantment of security. They murmured against Moses and Aaron in Numbers 14:2 and longed for the “safety” of Egypt; even death in the wilderness! This of course was nothing more than an imagined fantasy.
Consequently, Joshua joins in the attempt to free the Israelites from their invented refuge, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it to us– a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they shall be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:7-9)
Yet not even Joshua could explode their myth of safety. The people were misdirected in their fear for an imagined sense of security. This attitude displayed itself in their heinous desire to stone Joshua and Caleb! Such behavior, of course, is wrong.
It is wrong not to take risks for the cause of God. Paul told young Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7). In fact, we have no control over future events, only God does; and true safety is rooted in His righteous promises and power.
Followers of Christ live life in the realm of faith and not in the dominion of perceived circumstances. Regardless of the apparent obstacles in front of them, the preeminent attention of Joshua and Caleb was upon pleasing God and trusting His promises of a land. The Israelites who relied on the assessment of the other 10 spies were deceived by faulty, fleshly judgment rooted in artificial security; which resulted in wandering for 40 years and fulfilling their wish of dying in the wilderness!
I pray this word will be “food for faith.”