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The Dreadful Cost of Rebellion

(Numbers 13:30 - 14:12)

Lesson 10 -- second quarter 2009
August 9, 2009

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2009

Introductory questions to chew

"We are well able to overcome it" -- How may I be a better encourager?

"We were in our own sight" -- What can I do to improve another's focus (or my own!)?

"And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land?" -- How ungrateful am I toward God?

"Let us return into Egypt" -- What effect does rebellious peer pressure have on me?

"If the LORD delight in us" -- How do I delight God?

"How long will it be ere they believe me?" -- Might God so lament about me?

Stuck with rebels, whiners, and malcontents

God had promised Israel a land flowing with milk and honey. They had been through a lot; could it possibly be that they were now finally on its borders? The spies testified of the land they had toured, "Surely it floweth with milk and honey." They had virtually arrived at the land of promise. The dreams and hopes of generations were on the threshold of fulfillment!

And the majority chose to back away from the threshold! Imagine! They refused to possess what they had earnestly desired for so long. Why? Rebellion. Yes, rebellion! The primary issue was not fear, although that certainly was a factor in the Israelites' response. The Israelites were just outright refusing to do God's bidding; they were deliberately despising God's power, God's word, and God's gift.

Caleb didn't say, "Let us go up at once, and see if we can possess it." No, this man firmly believed that with God at their side they could ably overcome and possess this Promised Land. I am sure he recognized Israel's limitations against these Canaanites, but that was not a matter to be considered since Israel's God knew no limitations against the Canaanites. But the majority could see only their apparent impotence, and refused to move ahead. And with two exceptions, that entire generation had to leave their bones in the wilderness and the hopes and dreams of Israel had to be extended through yet one more generation. What a waste, a needless, tragic waste!

Joshua and Caleb stood up to a desperate, despairing mob. They were vastly outnumbered. And they almost died under a barrage of stones for their obedience, faith, and courage. But they stood fast for God, and God stood for them. And when the time at last came, forty years late, to conquer the land, they were the sole, surviving Patriarchs at the head of the mighty Jewish nation.

The right stuff

Of what were these amazing men made? The answer is not found in their personality nor in their physique. I doubt whether they were extraordinarily stubborn or unusually muscular. Sure, Joshua was Israel's top general, but that should have only made him aware of their military inferiority. So, what were these men made of? Well, that is entirely the wrong question! What did these men have? That is the real question, and the answer has already been given: obedience, faith, courage. They were unflinchingly committed to God and His plans. To them, God's promises were a done deal. They saw their duty as simply following through and accepting the inevitable: victory and possession. With all that in them, standing for God was the only natural thing to do. Backing down against overwhelming opposition was unthinkable.

What do you have? The church is not in critical need of physical strength, intellectual brilliance or blind mule-headedness. And God isn't looking for these traits either. In the face of massive apostasy and end-time rebellion, God and His church need men and women (young or otherwise) who will plant their feet solidly and immovably on the Rock. This generation needs individuals who will live and carry forth God's message and plan without regard to the stones. Let us develop our commitment, obedience, faith, and courage. Stand for the Truth; never sell out! We can live with or die by the stones as long as we are founded on the Rock.

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