God has given us so many promises in His word. I’m sure if you have been living for Him any length of time you have seen Him make good on His promises. In dealing with God’s promises we often find ourselves in different seasons of waiting on our promises. What promises are you waiting to see fulfilled in your life? What are you doing right now to insure that they will come to pass? Are you losing hope in waiting for your promise? Are you doubting that it will come true? Or perhaps you are afraid of the work it is going to take to see it come to pass. Whatever stage you are in, waiting, losing hope, or even scared to move into the promise, don’t lose hope. God will come through to help you in his timing.
These past two years have been a time of financial waiting for Ross and I. I truly believed that God was going to come through for us and I felt Him confirm that for me right before we had Owen. Now Owen is almost a year and a half and I am blessed to say that in the last two months God came through in a powerful and big way! Way bigger than if I had imagined it myself. There were times when I lost faith. There were times where things were very tight and I doubted, but God was always working in the background. We still have a long journey ahead of becoming debt free but it now feels possible. I have learned so much in the process of waiting for our promise and I really feel that I need to share these lessons with you through a powerful lesson we can learn from Joshua, Caleb, and the Isralites.
Our story takes place in Numbers 13 and 14. Through this story we can learn how to handle the promises of God and how not to. The Israelites were in bondage in Egypt for many years until they were finally freed. They left Egypt and traveled to a land that God had promised them. When they finally got to the edge of the promise land they sent in spies to scope out the new land. The spies in Numbers 13:27-28 came back and gave a report of the land, “We went into the land where you sent us. Indeed it is flowing with milk and honey, and here is some of its fruit. However, the people living in the land are strong, and the cities are large and fortified.” Numbers 13:31 continues their report by saying, “We can’t attack the people because they are stronger than we are!” There were two spies however, Joshua and Caleb, who saw the promise land a little differently. They reported in Numbers 13:30, “Let’s go up now and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!” They knew that the God who brought them miraculously out of Egypt could bring them into the land that was promised them. God was wanting to bless them by giving them a land that He had prepared for them! Was it going to be easy? No, but He would guide them and deliver them just like he had in Egypt. Why were the other Isralites too blind to see that?
The first lesson we can learn from this story on how to handle God’s promises is to keep a hopeful attitude. The Israelites had already made it up in their mind that God’s promise land was too difficult to obtain. They had already chosen a defeatist attitude even before trying! However, Joshua and Caleb chose to believe that God was going to deliver them just like He did in Egypt. They chose to have hope. Hope is a powerful word. Just a small amount of hope can change someone's life. Hope allows us to see what the future could be like. Hope allows us to see our promises fulfilled. We must continue to keep a hopeful outlook that God will fulfill His promises and trust that He will in his timing. We must remember how He has come through for us in the past and have faith that He will do it again!
The second lesson we can learn from this story in Numbers is to see with eyes of faith. The Israelites seemed to have forgotten all the provision God had provided for them before they arrived at the edge of the promise land. In addition to that, they were looking at the promise land with limited eyesight. Through their limited eyesight they saw the negative details of the promise land and it scared them. They were thinking of how they difficult it was going to be to conquer the land themselves. Their limited eyesight put the fulfillment of their promise in their hands and not God’s hands. This way of thinking only leads to fear. They were not looking with eyes of faith. If you look at your promise with eyes of faith, you can allow God to do the work. This type of eyesight does not forget what God can do and does not limit Him from doing His work. Ask God to open your eyes to see with eyes of faith!
The third lesson we can learn is to be willing to work for our promise. All promises take work. The Israelites were lazy. They didn't want to have to work for it. The Israelites were impatient. They did not want to have to fight their way through the promise land. Instead they wanted God to just hand it to them. My friend, keep pursuing God! Don't give up because it is hard. God may be holding back your promise to see if you will put in the effort and work to fight for it and see it fulfilled. Joshua and Caleb were not afraid to work to possess the land. Ask God today what he wants you to do to see your promise fulfilled? Maybe He is waiting for you to clean up some things in your life before He can move you into the next chapter. Those who really want to see their promise fulfilled will do whatever it takes to see it come to pass. Even if that means getting rid of some things or someone in our lives that are pulling us away from our promise. Many of us are in danger of losing our promises because we are not willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to possess them. Because of his faithfulness, Joshua was able to lead the people into the promise land years later. If he would have said it was too hard like the other Israelites, then there would have been no one else to take the Israelites into the promise land. Most of the time our blessings from God will not be simply handed to us. It takes time and intentional effort on our part to seek after our promises to see them fulfilled.
The fourth lesson to learn, and probably the one that is the hardest to accept, is to be willing to step into the unknown. The Isralites were afraid. They were afraid of leaving their comfort zone. They had gotten comfortable with the life that they had. They were used to God’s provision and when God was calling them to a greater promise they were hesitant because it was unknown. They even started to appoint a leader to lead them back to Egypt in Numbers 13:4! They would rather go back to being slaves in Egypt than take on the promise God had given them! They knew they could survive Egypt because it was familiar, even if they were in bondage. Their fear of the unknown hindered them from the fulfillment of their promise.
Much like us, we get comfortable in a place in our lives. When God calls us to something greater, we become uneasy at times. We feel this way, because moving into God’s promise may require that we have to go into a land that is uncertain or unfamiliar to us. Don’t get too comfortable with the present and don’t default back to your past because it is familiar. Be willing to trust God with the present and the future! Let go of the past and be willing to give up present comforts if necessary to move forward. You can look back at the past as a reminder of where God brought you, but do not let the past hinder you from moving forward! Don’t let your present comforts keep you stationary.
I wish I could say that the Israelites learned the lessons above and were able to live in the promise land. However, because of their unwillingness to possess the promise through hope, eyes of faith, willingness to work, and willingness to step into the unknown, they will wander the wilderness for forty years. Only two will be able to see God’s promise fulfilled. Will you believe in God’s promises like Joshua and Caleb? Or will you be like the rest of the Israelites and never be able to see the beautiful blessings He has in store for you?