That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” (Numbers 14:1-4)
This was the situation Moses faced as he appealed to the Israelites to obey God and follow him into Canaan. The spies he had sent in had come back with a fearful report of how big and dangerous the Canaanites were. The people refused to trust God, so He told them that indeed they would die in the wilderness over the next 40 years and the sons and daughters they feared would be killed would be the ones to successfully lead the invasion.
What should Canaan represent to us? It has often been a symbol of heaven, and crossing the River Jordan a symbol of dying. But Canaan should be a symbol of any challenge God wants us to engage in to further His kingdom. If we remember His promise in Genesis 3:15 that there will be enmity between us and the devil, an attempt to destroy God’s rule on earth, but that God will cause us to bruise the serpent’s head, a surety of the victory of His rule, then we see all such conflict as an opportunity to further the kingdom rule of God on earth.
We will recognize such opportunities by the following characteristics:
- We will see gross misrepresentations of God’s love and beauty taking place that bring destruction into people’s lives. This is what was happening in Canaan and God was ready to bring it to an end. As Bill Hybels has labeled it, this is a Popeye moment for us, as well. With God we see an intolerable situation and He puts it on our hearts to end it. As Popeye was so want to say, “That’s all I can stands and I can’t stands no more.” We recognize that God’s rule is sorely lacking in this situation.
- We are terrified with the prospect of entering the fray. Like the Israelites the obstacles to our seeing God’s kingdom make inroads will seem too big and too scary. We will have any number of excuses for disobeying God’s command to go in and do something powerful. We will feel powerless.
- It will require faith in a God who does the miraculous. There will be no way for us to accomplish this task by ourselves. But God will want to use us and fight for us and demonstrate His power at work in and through us. He will get the credit for what is accomplished, and yet He will be willing to share it with us as His co-laborers and fellow soldiers.
What is your Canaan today? Is it a neighborhood that has gone down and is in need of revitalization because of all the evil that is being perpetuated in it? Is it an individual who needs the witness of Christ? Is it a career change that frees you to accomplish something great for God? Is it a church that needs revitalizing? Don’t be disobedient like the Israelites were. Don’t think of Canaan as the place you go to die.
- Did the Old Testament teach about heaven after death? (askthepastors.wordpress.com)