This title of this article is based on an idiom in the Romanian language. Basically, it means that the true heroes fight while the danger is present. After the danger is over, the rest come out with signs of bravado, even though they were hiding when the danger was present. This is a perfect picture of what we see in the children of Israel in Numbers 13 and Numbers 14.
God chose the spies to search out the land and give an accurate report on what was before them. The people needed to interpret the data through the prism of the power of God. Two of the 12 spies were named Caleb and Joshua. Caleb was a man from the tribe of Judah, a leader among the people. He already proved his worth as a leader. He was Moses’ disciple. Caleb learned how to lead from a top notch leader. Joshua became the man that he was because Moses taught him how to be that way. Joshua was mentored by Moses for about 40 years. While being mentored, Joshua learned how to serve, which prepared the way for him to be a great leader, a servant leader. Moses, Caleb, and Joshua are heroes who were ready to fight when the danger was present. The other spies who went with Joshua and Caleb were the heroes who appeared once the danger was over.
I. Rebellious Hearts
The text tells us that the people were rebellious because they did not believe. They spurned the Lord every chance that they had. To spurn, in English, means to reject, disdain, to refuse. The people claimed to be followers of God but, with their actions, they rejected Him. In the original Hebrew, the idea was that the people despised God and they blasphemed against Him. They attributed incorrect characteristics to the nature of who God is. God calls this action on behalf of the people a lack of faith. He also equates it with disobedience. God calls the entirety of the children of Israel an evil congregation. They show their evil hearts in their grumbling against their spiritual leader Moses, which is the same as grumbling against God. They complain night an day, thinking that God does not hear them, yet, He does and knows all about it. Do you see yourself in any of this? You should because you have the same sin nature that the children of Israel had. I have that same sin nature. My heart is inclined to rebellion. Grumbling and complaining comes naturally to me. At our core, we all have rebellious hearts and that is why we need a Rescuer, someone who will rescue us from our greatest enemy, ourselves.
When it was time to go in the land and conquer, the majority of the spies were afraid and did not want to obey God. They convinced the people to rebel against Moses and his two disciples; Joshua and Caleb. They rejected God so, God turned around and rejected them. After this rejection, the heroes who talked everyone out of obeying God wanted to further disobey God by attacking the land when God said NO. They rallied up support and went out on their own. It did not end well for them or for the people who followed them. They were the heroes who appeared after the danger was over. The problem was, they walked right into the danger and paid a heavy price for it. They also made an entire generation pay the price of their cowardice and unbelief. I do not know about you but, I do not want to be the hero who appears once the danger is over. I want to be strong and courageous like Joshua and Caleb.
II. Faithful Hearts
Joshua and Caleb had a different spirit than the rest of the spies and different from the masses among the children of Israel. Joshua and Caleb were taught to trust the Lord and to walk by faith. This was instilled in them by their mentor, Moses. When danger was present, they were ready to fight. They saw the enemy in the land and they knew that the enemy was more powerful, yet, they trusted the Lord and that He had already promised victory. All the children of Israel had to do was to walk in that victory. Even when the 10 spies betrayed them and caused the congregation to want to murder them, Caleb and Joshua stood firm and faced the danger like men of God. They were not swayed by the desires of the masses. They stood firmly on their convictions. God had promised and He would deliver, just as He had always done.
This action by these two men who are 40 years old at this time, reveals the value of a spiritual mentor. Do you want to be strong and courageous for the Lord? Submit yourself to a spiritual mentor who will teach you how to follow the Lord moment by moment, day by day and just watch what will happen. I am surprised at the number of spiritual leaders today who do not have mentors helping them walk through the process of making disciples. I can not imagine trying to do it on my own. Many are falling left and right today simply because they do not have someone like Moses who invests into their spiritual life as a spiritual authority figure. Do you have a spiritual mentor? Is that mentor also a spiritual authority figure for you? Your heart is just as rebellious as the hearts of the children of Israel. So is mine. That is what sets Joshua and Caleb apart from everyone else. Do you want to be set apart from everyone else?
There are several consequences that comes as a result of obeying God as well as for disobeying God. First of all, because the people were rebellious in their hearts and manifested that rebellion in disobedience, God rejected them. They had already rejected Him, over and over again. God promised to take the children of Israel into the Promised Land. He kept His promise. He raised up another generation in the wilderness who would be able to enter. The current generation 20 years old and older were all going to die. The only exception was Caleb and Joshua because they trusted the Lord and walked by faith. The rest of the people were going to pay with their lives. They lived in unbelief and as a result, they were not going to benefit fully from the Lord’s plan. They received rescue from slavery in Egypt only to live enslaved to their sin nature. They could have been set free from their sin nature too but, they did not trust the Lord. They liked grumbling and complaining too much. Another consequence that we see is the fact that the heroes who appeared after the danger was gone, took courage at the wrong time and attacked when they were told not to do it. They missed the courage bus the first time around. Now, their false bravado leads them to death. Not only did they walk into death, they also encouraged others to do with them. The courage of Joshua and Caleb was not lost. They were still two strong and courageous warriors but, they did not go with the heroes because God had told them not to go into battle. They continued to obey the Lord. They were not swayed by the masses.
This is such a sad story because this generation of Israelites had seen so many miracles and they had so much potential yet, because of their rebellious hearts and lack of faith, they never lived up to that potential. This is what keeps me up at night. Each one of us has so much potential because we were created in the image of God. Yet, so many never accomplish that potential because of a rebellious spirit and lack of faith. I want to walk with the Lord the way that Joshua and Caleb did. I want to live up to all the potential that I have in the Lord. I want the same for you . The question is, are you going to be a hero who appears once the danger is gone, or, are you going to be strong and courageous not matter what or who the enemy is because the Lord has already promised victory?
May the Lord help us obey what we learn in these two chapters!