Thursday, May 14, 2009
milk and honey
Two nights ago, for a Will and Annie bedtime story I read about the twelve spies who went into Canaan. ...ten were bad and two were good... Caleb and Joshua were the fearless minority who considered it worth the risk. They were excited to see what God had for his people.
I can remember reading this before and thinking of Caleb and Joshua as faithful, adventurous, courageous, obedient and righteous in their attitude toward the task. The others always seemed like wet blankets. Cowards.
This time when I read it, I seemed to hear ten reasonable voices concerned about the feasibility of a plan, the numbers and dimensions of the enemies, and the strength of the strongholds. Joshua and Caleb seemed like goofy little kids saying, "Yeah, but look at the size of these grapes! Moses can we go, can we can we can we, PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE!?" And it sounded reasonable to think about not going. And it sounded ridiculous to risk your neck for a taste of milk and honey. And I realized that I have become a coward.
Numbers 13:27 They gave Moses this account: "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."31But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are."32And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size."
They saw the same things, and there is nothing to indicate that they differed on their assessment of the problem, only on their assessment of the risk. Caleb and Joshua had seen the soldiers and the terrain and the fortifications. But they also saw God's promise as a tangible security, and they breathed richly of the blessings of his plans. I suspect that for Joshua and Caleb, the time in Canaan was an amazing experience, a vibrant and overwhelming exposure to God's provisions for his people, an invigorating and reassuring security. Their comrades on the same trip slept in the same hills, walked on the same paths, crossed the same rivers, ate the same fruit and paced the same valleys to survive a terrifying foray into enemy land. No, they didn't see different things. Joshua and Caleb simply knew the value of milk and honey.
God, please grant me courage to pursue your blessings.