The caravan stretched for miles as it headed toward the border. Parents led their children hundreds of miles, driven by promises for a brighter and more prosperous future to the north of where they once lived. They had every reason to be hopeful, for they were propelled by an invitation, actually a command to enter. But they did not enter. Although God had promised the Israelites this land flowing with milk and honey, there was a crisis at the border – a crisis of faith.
As they approached the border, the Israelites were immediately confronted by armies with military superiority, defensive advantages (walled cities) and intimidating size (giants in the land). God’s people would have to trust Him in order to drive out their enemies and claim the territory promised. But they allowed fear for their personal security to dishearten them and said, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt” (Num 14:4 ESV).
In addition to concern for personal safety, the Israelites faced an identity crisis. Although they were God’s chosen people, they instead began to see themselves as they believed others saw them: “We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them” (Num 13:33 ESV). But was this actually true? Did the Canaanites see them as small enemies they could easily crush? Rahab said otherwise to the Hebrew spies: “I know the LORD is handing this land over to you. We are absolutely terrified of you, and all who live in the land are cringing before you” (Jos 2:9 NET).
Wall vs. No Wall
The Israelites were dwelling in tents, making them vulnerable and essentially helpless should enemies launch attacks against them. They had no defensive barriers to hide behind. But they had a Defender who would tell them more than once that He would fight for them (Deu 1:30; 3:22). Should they choose to trust His promises, the walled cities of their enemies would collapse before their eyes (Jos 6:20).
Unfortunately, unbelief won the day, or lost it. Heeding the advice in the spies’ majority report against the recommendation of Joshua and Caleb, the people falsely concluded, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are” (Num 13:31 ESV). It was the culmination of a continual unbelieving heart (Heb 3:12) manifest in God’s people that disqualified that entire generation from entering the Promised Land. The Lord’s verdict was “they shall not see the land” (Num 14:23).
This Land is Your Land
As God’s people today (1Pe 2:10), to whom have been given “exceeding great and precious promises” (2Pe 1:4), are we not often guilty of the same unbelieving heart? God’s promises to us in the Christian life include forgiveness, answers to prayer, His abiding presence, His unlimited power, supply for our needs, help in temptation and many others. Indeed, “the land is before us” and the only wall barricading us from the enjoyment of these blessings is a wall of our making – unbelief. Remember who you are, and that you are forever secure in God’s hand. Don’t allow a personal border crisis of faith to keep you from living the life God intends for His people.