About 3,500 years ago, less than a dozen men determined the next four decades of a massive group of people, possibly over two million in number. It is highly likely that you will not know much about them, if anything at all. The Scriptures preserve their names, along with the names of their fathers in Numbers 13:1-16. These men were handpicked leaders, called by Moses to serve as men of vision who would formulate a strategy to take Israel into the place of their promised inheritance. They were not spectacular men, but they were appointed for a significant task and granted immense responsibility. Innumerable families waited on them to return from a reconnaissance mission into the land of Canaan whereupon they would share their insights about how Israel would claim the land which God had granted them. Their assignment was to report to Moses the layout of the land and what would be required to secure the victory.
Instead, these leaders came home with one message: We cannot overcome the obstacles ahead of us.
My bible preserves the names of these men forever as individuals who did not trust their God and, because of their unbelief, sentenced millions to an aimless wandering in a wilderness from which the majority of them never emerged. God had this to say of them and all those who listened to their faithless words, “How long will this people despise Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?” (Numbers 14:11)
I want to suggest that these were not morally evil men. These were not men who failed to acknowledge what God was able to do – they had personally crossed over from Egypt in the miraculous parting of the Red Sea. These were not men who did not wish to experience victory. These were ten men who had wives, children and some measure of leadership among God’s chosen. But their faith hit a ceiling when they spied out the Promised Land, and came back with their hearts more impacted by the intimidating giants than the impressive grapes. When they reported to Moses and Israel, they gave a token nod to all the good that they saw in the land, but their primary emphasis was on all the obstacles that would have to be overcome to claim their inheritance. The demand outweighed the delight and the end result was that their ten voices won the argument…and lost the blessing for everyone. Remember these names from Numbers 13 and what they represent:
These men’s testimonies are preserved in God’s Word in a state of eternal infamy. They were frightened leaders who took to nowhere the people who were entrusted to them. They influenced a newly delivered nation to doubt God. They said that God could not do what He had promised them to do. They were not immediately executed for their unbelief by the glorious God whom they distrusted. Something worse than that was their sentence. They wandered in an ongoing state of nothingness until they and all who followed them died.
I can personally think of nothing worse that might come from a leader in the Kingdom. To infect those who need our guidance and direction with the poison of fear and doubt is a nightmare scenario. Joshua and Caleb believed that God would give the victory in the land, but their two voices of trust were muzzled by ten voices of dread and unbelief. I read this account a few times each year and assess a couple of issues pertaining to Kingdom leadership:
- Is my trust in God increasing the longer I follow Him?
- Am I more willing now to step into a worthy challenge in order to lead people into the place of their inheritance than I was when I first began to follow Jesus?
- My voice is impacting those who follow me – am I emboldening them to press forward or am I teaching them that the obstacles should dictate the direction and the decision?
- If God was making a list today like He did in Numbers 13, would my name be the eleventh on the list of deadly doubters or the third on the list of triumphant trusters?
The list of doubters and deniers will always be longer than the list of those who are committed and convinced. Add your name to the short list. That’s how you will want to be remembered.