Summary: To the children of Israel, the Promised Land represented their future. And God gave them the opportunity to go in & make it their own. (Powerpoints Available - #364)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(REVISED - 2019)
(Powerpoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #364.)
A. I want to call your attention to the 13th chapter of the Book of Numbers. This chapter tells about a crucial event in the history of Israel. And I believe it is relevant to us because the way they reacted is too often the way we react today.
This is the story of Moses & the people of Israel as God freed them from their slavery in Egypt & led them to the border of the Promised Land. When they arrive, God gives the command, & Moses tells the people, "It is time for us to go in & take the land which God has given us."
But first, he chooses 12 men - one from each tribe - & tells them, "Go & spy out the land. Observe the people, their cities & fortifications, & their produce. Then come back & tell us what the land is like."
B. So these 12 men take off & spend 40 days spying out the land. When they come back they reported, “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit." (Numbers 13:27)
That sounds great! This first part of their report was unanimous & very positive. "We looked at the land & it is exactly what God said it would be. It is a land flowing with milk & honey." And they brought back a huge cluster of grapes & pomegranates & figs as evidence of its fertility.
C. But from that point on, their report was no longer unanimous. They were divided 10 to 2, & the majority begins the rest of its report with the word, "But".
APPL. Have you ever noticed how often the word, "But," is used when you're discussing plans for the future? No matter what is suggested, there are almost always those who think it cannot be done, & therefore it shouldn't even be tried.
That is exactly what was happening here. Follow along with me as I read from vs's 28-33 where their report continues. "But the people who live there are powerful, & the cities are fortified & very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.
"The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites & Amorites live in the hill country; & the Canaanites live near the sea & along the Jordan.
"Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses & said, 'We should go up & take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.'
"But the men who had gone up with him said, 'We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are.' . . . 'All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there. . .'
'We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, & we looked the same to them.'"
Oh, oh, the majority is recommending they disobey God. Why? "Because," they said, "the people who live there are powerful, & the cities are fortified & very large."
ILL. That reminds me of a story about Rufus & Clarence, two old geezers living in the backwoods. They lived on opposite sides of the river & they hated each other.
Every morning Rufus & Clarence would go down to their respective sides of the river & yell at each other. "Rufus!" Clarence would shout, "You better thank your lucky stars that I can’t swim, or I’d swim this river & whup you!"
"Clarence!" Rufus would holler back, "You better thank YOUR lucky stars that I can’t swim, or I’d swim this river & whup YOU!" This became almost a daily ritual - every morning, every day, for 20 years.
Then one day the Army Corps of Engineers built a bridge across the river. But they continued shouting insults every morning, every day for another 5 years.
Finally, Rufus’ wife had had enough. "Rufus!" she squallered one day, "I can’t take no more! Every day for 25 years you’ve been threatenin’ to whup Clarence. Well, thar’s the bridge! Have at it!"
Rufus thought on it for a moment, chewed his bottom lip for another moment, & then "Woman!" he declared, "I’m gonna whup Clarence!"
He walked out the door, down to the river, came to the bridge, stepped up onto it, walked about halfway across the bridge, then stopped, turned tail & ran back to the house, slammed the door, bolted the windows, grabbed his shotgun & dove under the bed.
"Rufus!" cried the missus. "I thought you was gonna whup Clarence!" "I was, woman, I was!" he whispered. "Then what in tarnation is the matter?"