Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

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Written by Peter Langbroek
That night was wretched in the camp: screaming, wailing, outbursts of anger. "Would God that we had died in the wilderness!" yelled one. "Would God that we had died in Egypt!" yelled another. "Why did God bring us into this land, so our wives and children die by the sword?" screamed another. "Let's choose a captain who will lead us to Egypt," they suggested.

The crowd was hostile; their minds filled with images of monstrous giants and massive city walls. We can't conquer this land, they reasoned. Impossible!

There was this crowd, swayed by the report of ten spies who told them they could not resist the people in the land that God had promised them. There was also Caleb. He tried to convince the frightened crowd the day before. He silenced them and told them otherwise. "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it" (Numbers 13: 30). But the crowd did not listen.

This day, Caleb tried again with his friend Joshua. With Aaron and Moses face down before the entrance of the tabernacle, they tore their clothes, faced the angry crowd, and pleaded with them. "The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not" (Numbers 14:7-9).

The angry crowd grew vicious. Their hands grabbed rocks. With glaring eyes they took aim. The deaths of Caleb and Joshua appeared to be very soon.

Who of you would like to be Caleb or Joshua this moment? Can you even imagine their stress? Yet, I believe, you too have felt the same kind of pressure, the immense pressure that a person can face against a group that thinks otherwise. Such pressure seems so convincing and its force so powerful that one can be caught in its swift current before he knows it. How do you stand against such pressure when it's wrong, or are you swept under it and think and act like the leaders who caused it? Or are you, or have you been, a leader of such pressure?

The ten spies led the crowd in thinking that conquering Canaan was impossible. Their report was full of lies and exaggerations. Their evil report rippled through the crowd of thousands of Israelites.

The Israelites didn't listen to Caleb. The story of the ten made more sense. They believed the men rather than God, and their feelings swept them away until they stood before Caleb and Joshua with stones in their hands.

What made Caleb and Joshua so brave at this moment? God answers this question, for He says to Moses: "But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully...Ó (Numbers 14: 24). Caleb and Joshua stood out among the crowd because of Òanother spirit,Ó a spirit of belief in God and His promises and a commitment to His laws.

Boys and girls, the pressure to do evil is immense these days. The media (television, radio, music, and newspapers) give us another way to behave. But think of what God tells us in His Word. So often our peers in the world and yes, sad to say, even in churches and Christian schools, pressure us to act and think contrary to God's Word.

How do you stand? The advice is simple: trust and obey God. Fear Him. Caleb and Joshua stood their ground and resisted the pressure. Without this spirit of faith and obedience, guaranteed you'll be swept away by the force of unbelief and by the crowd--the world--, which ultimately wants to keep you from God and His eternal kingdom.

Be warned, those who lead and follow in a spirit of unbelief and rebellion. God protected Joshua and Caleb with the cloud of glory before the stones could hit their heads. The ten spies died quickly by a plague and all the Israelites 20 years old and over died in the wilderness, except Caleb and Joshua.

Be assured, you who stand out among the crowd. For every Caleb, there is a friend named Joshua. For every Joshua, there is a friend named Caleb. God has not left believers to stand alone. He has His church and Jesus promises: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Be comforted, you who feel deserted and despised by those who tried to pressure you into thinking or acting against God and His will. "The Lord is with us" (Numbers 14: 9).

A Personal Note: October 31 is a time to reflect on Reformation Day. At that time, God graciously raised up men and women who had another spirit and followed God whole-heartedly like Caleb and Joshua. Think of Martin Luther who stood before the kingly powers at the Diet of Worms. Think of how he was protected after the meeting by friends who "kidnappedÓ him and brought him to the castle of Wartburg. Think, too, of the reformers and their friends: Luther and Melancthon, Calvin and Farel, Ridley and Latimer. Reformation Day is a time to reflect on these saints who faced a hostile crowd. They are an encouragement to us to stand faithful to God and His word. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

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