Numbers 13:26-30; 14:6-10, 21-24
Tim Riordan, pastor
SonRise Baptist Church, Newnan
We jumped out of the car after dark as the rain pelted the windshield. Circumstances hindered us from getting to the campground sooner. My wife and three daughters held up the tarp while I tied it to trees, and then we all worked together to set up the tent under the protection of the tarp. In no time, I was congratulating my girls for such great teamwork.
Working as a team is a blessing, but what if your team is not willing to work with you?
Joshua and Caleb experienced this dilemma when they joined ten others to spy out the Promised Land. Even though the Lord guided the Israelites to this new land and delivered them from numerous challenges, they were now afraid to enter Canaan because of giants and fortified cities.
These two stood alone against Israel and would not waver in their resolve to follow the Lord. Caleb’s leadership shows us three important principles to follow in overcoming circumstances that could lead us to rebel against God.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by negative circumstances and miss God’s direction for our lives. Even in the midst of opposition, Caleb challenged his people to take possession of the land.
Caleb never hesitated in his resolve. He said they should by all means go up to this new land. He strongly believed that nothing should keep them from following the Lord. This kind of tenacity comes from unwavering focus on one’s mission.
Focus is an important element to success and obedience to God’s leadership, but it is easy for us to be distracted and discouraged by our circumstances. Amidst the noise of overwhelming circumstances and the crowd of naysayers around us, the voice of God seems to grow dimmer. Satan uses the crowds to bring confusion and our circumstances to cause doubt.
Caleb demonstrated great focus on the will of God because the Promised Land was their objective. He refused to allow the dangers ahead or the fears of his people to cause him to falter in his resolve to follow the Lord.
We should also demonstrate laser-beam focus on the will of God. When our hearts are set on obedience, the voices around us become minimal and our circumstances have no effect on our determination.
We have all trusted things not worthy of trust – frayed ropes, weak boards, or undependable cars. When God speaks, however, we can always trust His way to be right.
One reason Caleb insisted on moving into the Promised Land was because it was the Lord who led them there from the beginning. Caleb trusted God and knew without doubt that God’s way was always right. He implored the people to follow the Lord, “If the Lord is pleased with us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us.” Caleb was confident that the Lord was with his people and they should not fear anyone.
Where is your faith? In whom have you placed your trust? Psalm 20:7 states, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
Our faith in the Lord must be unwavering. Circumstances often turn and people vacillate, so we cannot allow anything to determine our steps, except the Lord. Faith is essential to our spiritual victory. The writer of Hebrews said that we cannot please God without it (Heb 11:6). In Fresh Faith, Jim Cymbala defined faith as “total dependence upon God that becomes supernatural in its working.” Caleb demonstrated total dependence upon God, and God worked supernaturally in his life.
The final ingredient to Caleb’s spiritual success was a tireless pursuit of God’s best for his life. He pleaded with the Israelites not to rebel against God. Even to the point of being stoned for his insistence upon following the Lord, Caleb would not budge on his position.
In the end, God honored Caleb for his faithfulness because he had a different spirit and followed God completely. While all of Israel were banned from the Promised Land, Caleb and Joshua were allowed to enter because of their persistent faith.
Throughout the Scriptures, God challenges his children to persist. Proverbs 24:16 says the righteous fall and get back up. Paul told the Thessalonians not to grow weary in well doing (2 Thess. 3:13) while the Hebrews writer challenged us to run with endurance (Heb. 12:1). It was the persistence of the ant that God honored (Prov. 6:6) and the insistence of the friend at night that led to a response (Luke 11:5ff).
John Wesley wrote about his ministry challenges in his diary from May 5 through June 2. He began his entry on Sunday morning, May 5, with these words, “Preached in St. Ann’s and was asked not to come back.” The next seven entries speak to being run off and kicked out of various places. His entry for Sunday afternoon, June 2, however, read, “Afternoon service, preached in a pasture. 10,000 came to hear me.”
God works through persistent people to reveal his power and his ways. God will be honored in us as we continue fulfilling our purpose and his will regardless of the circumstances.
Focus, trust, and perseverance are key qualities for us to emulate if we are going to claim our own land of promise. Whether our struggles come from the voices of cynics, the challenges of parenting, or difficulties with our careers, God wants to work in our lives to show his steadfast love. Even as Caleb experienced a great blessing from the Lord for his faithfulness, we, too, can enjoy the Lord’s favor by always choosing to serve him.