Read His Words Before Ours!
The cool night air of the desert has a distinct aroma to it. Like the sweetness of all things musty and earthy married with hints of animal and limestone rock. I breathe it in, trying to calm myself, shifting positions for the hundredth time in the last few minutes. I distract myself from my total inability to sleep, to the shadows on my tent wall. The moon, brilliantly lit, hangs directly above me and if I’m perfectly still, I can hear the patter of salamander feet against the crushed rock of the desert floor. Annoyed and aggravated, I throw off my blanket and stumble outside my tent, listening to the small critters scramble away from my heavy-treading feet.
“Ah, Lord God, your beauty catches me off guard again!” and for a few moments, I forget my gnawing fear and simply stare at that shining orb of pure light so high above me. The expanse is incredible and never ceases to amaze me. But those moments pass and my stomach knots again. I’m the chief of my tribe, but I can’t seem to shake this feeling that my leadership won’t be good enough to lead my tribe well this time.
My name is Hoshea, but you can call me Joshua if it’s easier on your tongue. In the last 3 years as I’ve watched Moses lead, I’ve learned more about God than I’d ever imagined. I’m beginning to understand that leading well is more about your relationship with the Almighty than your ability to speak loudly or even motivate people.
I was with Moses when God parted the sea, Egyptians hot on our trail, the salty roar licking my face. And it was Moses’ total trust in God as his own shepherd that gave him the bravery to stand atop that rock, holding out his staff as we passed through on dry land. I was with Moses as we stood before the Lord God and heard His voice shaking Mt. Sinai, God’s own finger emblazoning His words on stone tablets for His people. I remember the way my heart raged within me as Moses and I descended and saw the evil of the people as they had melded together gold to shape a calf to worship. Even now, my fist grips tightly at their arrogance! To think they could create their own god! To think they were better than Yahweh! To think their hands could craft anything remotely like the God I encountered on Sinai amidst the thunder and lightening!
I cannot forget who Yahweh is. His presence molded me as deeply as His finger had on those stone tablets.
Perhaps that’s what it is, this restlessness that’s been keeping me awake the last few nights. This is day 37 of our journey as spies in Canaan, and the beauty of this land is amazing! The soil is so rich, I would make my bed here in the dirt and be content all my days. The fruit of the land is more abundant than any I’ve ever known. Israel can prosper here and not even by the work of our hands! There are deep wells already built. Farmland already plowed. Home and cities ready for us to walk into and own.
This is the land the Lord has for us! I know it!
True, the Amalekites are here now, but who cares?
God has given us Canaan. It’s His promise. His word.
And trust me, the Almighty God I caught only a small glimpse of on Sinai is more than capable of delivering on His promise.
This is His gift, He will hand it over to us just as He said he would.
But the unrest continues to twist inside me. There are 12 spies here including myself, but 10 see the gift of Canaan differently.
Their view of God is much too small.
Sure, they agree that it’s priceless, plentiful, and beautiful beyond description, but the Amalekites are stopping them in their tracks. A snake slithers in front of me, just grazing my toes and my heart lurches as I stiffen. Fear. It’s my natural instinct. And my mind turns that over for a moment, before I see clearly, it isn’t the Amalekites closing down the dreams in the other spies, it’s fear.
Fear that what they dream is too big.
Fear of loss.
Fear of ridicule for believing the impossible.
Fear of the unknown.
I agree with them. There is much to fear, no doubt about it.
But I fear my God more than I fear the Amalekites.
His presence brings thunder. His rage would bring existence to dust. His power sweeps beyond those twinkling bits of light above me, now tinged with pink as the sun pushes away the darkness.
A sun that pushes away darkness. Like Yahweh pushes aside my fear, filling me with His awesome presence. My eyes glimpse a few leopards in the distance, but I know they’ll stay away. With the coming light, they fear us.
Peace flows through me, and I can’t help but grin as I watch the sky burn with brilliant hues of yellow and orange. I will fear none but Yahweh. He alone is worthy of my worship, and I will not grovel before the Amalekites in fear of mankind while knowing that this land is ours. This promise is ours!
Joshua and his friend Caleb believed God at His word, even when those around them didn’t. The majority ruled however, and because of their willingness to fear man instead of God, the Israelites wandered for another 37 years in the Desert of Sin. Worse, everyone of that generation except Joshua and Caleb died with sand in their shoes, having never touched even a blade of grass in the Promised Land. They had the opportunity for so much more, but they walked away from it out of fear. Is your view of God too small to let you live beyond your fear?
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