When It's All About God

MOSES sent twelve men to spy out the land that was promised by God to the children of Israel. Ten came back and gave their report, which started out well but then suddenly turned dark: 

We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large ... We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we ... The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours it inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants ... and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight. (Numbers 13:27-28, 31-33)

The children of Israel—not a few, but the whole congregation—were exceedingly fearful when they heard this. They cried out against Moses and Aaron, and wished that they had never been brought out of Egypt in the first place, or else that they had perished along the way in the wilderness.

Only two spies came back with any good news, and they were bristling with confidence. One was Caleb, of the tribe of Judah. His name means “forcible.” He tried to rally the people, firmly declaring, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30).

The other one was Hoshea, son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim. Moses called him Joshua, “The Lord is Salvation.” When Joshua observed the great trepidation of the people and heard their venomous complaints, he and Caleb tore their garments and again tried to calm the fear and awaken faith and courage in the people: 

The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into the land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them” (Numbers 14:7-9).     

The congregation, however, would have none of it. “Stone them with stones,” they cried. 

WHY was there such a huge difference between the report of Joshua and Caleb and that of the other ten spies? They all saw the same things. They were all working with the same set of facts. Yet, ten looked at the situation and called it completely impossible, while Joshua and Caleb, seeing the exact same things, declared that victory was imminently doable.

The difference was in the orientation of their hearts. You see, there is no such thing as an uninterpreted fact. Though they all saw the same things, they looked at them in very different ways. They all had the same facts, but they perceived them from radically different perspectives, and it was the orientation of their hearts that determined their perceptions.

The difference in their orientations was in the difference of priority, of focus, and how they answered the question, Who is this all about? The ten spies looked at the situation as if it was all about them, their resources, their abilities, their strength. They looked in the natural and saw the people of Canaan as giants and themselves as grasshoppers. They looked at the natural world through natural eyes because that was the orientation of their hearts. They were leaning on their own understanding instead of trusting in the Lord with all their hearts (Proverbs 3:5).

The ten spies looked only with their natural eyes and then proceeded to say what they saw with those eyes, so they spoke out of a heart that thought this was all about them. “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” They saw the problem (giants in the land) and they saw themselves as grasshoppers, totally unequal to the challenge.

Contrast that with Joshua and Caleb, who looked in the spirit and viewed the natural through spiritual eyes. What did they see? They saw God, and the people of Canaan looked like grasshoppers before Him. They saw the same facts that the other ten saw, only they understood the truth about what they were seeing—that this was about God—and then they spoke according to what they saw: “We are well able to overcome ... The Lord is with us.”

Now, notice that Joshua and Caleb didn’t deny that there was a problem. In fact, they freely acknowledged it, but they were unmoved by it: “Do not fear these people—they are our bread, and they have no protection.” The orientation of their hearts was toward God. They saw that they were well able to overcome the problem because God was with them. 

WHEN its all about God there is nothing to fear. Moses understood this long before he sent out the spies. He learned it when God first called him to deliver the children of Israel. Moses hesitated. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” as if any of this was about him and his abilities.

But God corrected his defective understanding. “I will certainly be with you” (Exodus 3:11-12). This was not about Moses, but about God, and would, therefore, certainly come to pass. That is why Moses was in no way dissuaded by the negative report of the ten spies. He agreed with the report of Joshua and Caleb because he knew as well as they that God would be with them. But God now pressed Moses’ understanding even further. When the congregation called for Joshua and Caleb to be stoned, the Bible says, “the Glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel” (Numbers 14:10). Of course, this was not a good thing for the ten spies and the congregation, for whom God was not the priority. But set that aside for a moment and listen to what the Lord had to say to Moses: 

How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they. (Numbers 14:11-12)

This was a test: How much did Moses really understand concerning who this was all about. “Shall I destroy these people and make of you a greater nation, Moses?” But Moses was far past thinking it was about him, or even wanting it to be about Him. He quickly answered the Lord: 

Then the Egyptians will hear it, for by Your might You brought these people up from among them, and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, Lord, are among these people; that You, Lord, are seen face to face and Your cloud stands above them, and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if You kill these people as one man, then the nations which have heard of Your fame will speak, saying, “Because the Lord was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness.” (Numbers 14:13-16, emphasis added). 

Moses passed the test. His spiritual vision was 20/20. He knew exactly who this was all about—the Lord God of Israel. God’s name, God’s power, God’s glory, God’s people. Then Moses appealed to God’s mercy and asked Him to pardon the iniquity of the people for thinking it was about them. The Lord answered, 

I have pardoned, according to your word; but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord—because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. (Numbers 14:20-23) 

Then of Caleb, whose heart was toward the Lord, He said,

But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it. (v. 24).

Then the Lord had Moses deliver this message to the congregation:

Just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you; The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunnah and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. (vv. 28-30)

Notice that everyone received exactly what they had spoken: The congregation said, “Better we should die in the wilderness.” And so they did. The ten spies said, “We are not able to go up against the people of Canaan.” And so they never did go up against them, but died of a plague in the wilderness. Joshua and Caleb said, “We are well able to overcome ... The Lord is with us.” And in time they entered and took possession of the Promised Land (read about it in the book of Joshua).

They each got what they expected. They each experienced what they focused on. They each received according to how they saw, whether in the natural or in the Spirit. And they each obtained whatever they spoke, whether it was a good report or an evil report.

Who is this life all about? Those who think it is all about themselves walk in fear of every problem and situation that is bigger than them, and they will perish in the wilderness. Those who know it is all about God walk in faith, knowing that God is much bigger than any and every problem. They go on to enjoy victory in the Promised Land.

When you encounter giants in your life, problems that seem like they are much bigger than you, remember that it is no longer about you but about God. Take these steps: 


© 2004 by Jeff Doles.
All Rights Reserved.

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“JEFF DOLES is a Christian author, blogger and Bible teacher. His books include The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth: Keys to the Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Matthew and Praying With Fire: Change Your World with the Powerful Prayers of the Apostles. He and his wife, Suzanne, are the founders of Walking Barefoot Ministries. Visit their website at www.walkingbarefoot.com.”

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