Leadership: Joshua and Caleb (part 1 of 4)

Posted on February 13, 2012 by


We will be looking at Numbers 13:25 – 14:4 over the next 4 days.

This text talks about leadership.  But my hope is that although it may be a text that has something to say about us as leaders in the context of who and how we lead, it will also say something to you personally about principles that apply to us as we follow Christ… how we will respond to His calling on our lives and whether or not we will walk in obedience.

This text describes a huge moment for Israel.  Moses has led Israel out of Egyptian captivity, and they are now on a journey to the land of promise that God has pledged to Israel.  We can’t overstate the significance of this moment.  Can you imagine?  They stand on the brink of entering this land flowing with milk and honey, and entering into God’s rest – the peace and prosperity that He promised is soon to be a reality.  Moses has sent out 12 spies, leaders from each of the tribes of Israel, with a commission which we see early in chapter 13.  They return and give a report.  How did they decide what they were to do?  It looks pretty clear cut – All in favor, say aye.  10 against 2.  A clear victory for the majority.  But there’s much more to the story than that.

The first thing I’d like to consider is this: The difference between an obstacle and an opportunity has only to do with God’s plan.

Why did 10 say no?  Maybe the 10 saw a different situation than Joshua and Caleb.  Maybe they saw the giants and Joshua and Caleb didn’t!  NO, both Joshua and Caleb saw the inhabitants of the land.  They were aware of the obstacles.  Verses 26-29 of chapter 13 contain a common report, brought by all 12 men.  But in the end, only Joshua and Caleb encourage the people to go and posses the land.  12 men see the same situation, 10 decide it’s hopeless and 2 decide they should go.  It’s a difference in perspective.

Joshua and Caleb knew that God wanted them to take the land.  They knew what their job was.  They were sent to scout out the land, and they were to be sent to posses it.  It was God who determined whether or not they should go.  It wasn’t their decision, and they knew it!  Why didn’t God make it obvious to the other 10?  Why wasn’t the land inhabited by midgets, rather than by giants?  Then it would have been no decision – a no brainer.  We don’t know why.  I would guess that it has something to do with the fact that it would be easy for Israel to get the credit if they’d defeated a nation of dwarfs, rather than giants.  God gets the glory when giants are slain.

And here’s a principle:  God doesn’t always provide us with an obvious and a clear path every time he presents us with a decision.  That’s where we need the eyes of faith.  In fact, I’d ask you, what are you doing right now that you can only do by faith?  There’s a theme of self-preservation in this text that starts getting developed right here.  God says move & the people decide it’s not in their best interest.   But it should not surprise you that God would call you to do something that doesn’t seem in your best interest.  It happens all the time!  Biblical characters like Noah, Abraham, etc.  Or saints of the church like Luther, Wm Carey, etc.

You and I are confronted by obstacles and opportunities every day.  We’re obviously not to regard every difficult situation as God’s will for our lives.  Sometimes He throws up roadblocks to stop us and protect us.  But other times He stretches our faith by making sure that we can’t accomplish a task on our own strength.  How do you know the difference?  I wish I had an easy answer for that one. But the key difference between an obstacle, a closed door which God does not intend you to enter – and a real opportunity for the Lord to demonstrate His power and faithfulness, may only be known through prayer and being in intimate communication daily with the Lord.