A Future With or Without God

A Future With or Without God

“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).

Fear-induced rebellion

The above rebellion of the Nation of Israel occurred when the team of scouts returned from Canaan and gave their report to Moses and the Nation of Israel.  The scouts presented a split decision to Moses and others. The majority of the scouts, ten out of twelve, were intimidated by what they saw in the promised land and were against entering it because they were certain the Nation of Israel would be overwhelmed and obliterated by the local residents and nations. The people swallowed it, and the result was total fear and paranoia among the people.

The majority opinion was wrong

Ten of the twelve scouts said: “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored.” (Numbers 13:31-32). However, a minority of scouts, Joshua and Caleb, disagreed with the majority of scouts and said:

“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord.” (Numbers 14:7-9).

If you are looking for evidence that the majority is not always right, this is an outstanding example. Yes, here, the majority of the scouts were wrong and misread what was ahead of them and plunged the Nation of Israel into a sea of fear and despair.

But, a minority of just two of the scouts read the opposition right. The two who viewed their nation’s success in the Land of  Canaan would depend on God, they said, “If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land...and will give it to us (vs. 8).” .  They saw their success in the promised land entirely as an act of God. The strength and the might of the locals did not figure in their calculation. 

The majority opinion left out God’s role

In contrast, the majority opinion left God out of their calculations. They based their entire assessment on the perceived size and might of the locals in the promised land. They were terrified.

Given that the Nation of Israel was entirely made of former slaves under the Egyptians, they were not trained warriors and had no war-making equipment. Without God, they were justified in being terrified at the prospect of going to war against native armies in the promised land.

God’s role changes everything

Scouts Joshua and Caleb correctly realized the job of overcoming the trained and armed soldiers in the promised land belonged to the Lord. 

The knee-jerk reaction of the Nation of Israel was to flee back to Egypt out of fear of what was ahead in the promised land. Without God in their equation, fleeing to Egypt appeared to be a better option for them. They were prepared to go back to Egypt and serve as slaves once again; if they do, they may find the Egyptians harsher as masters and slave drivers.

It is not a surprise that people get despondent and depressed in life if they cannot and do not see a role for God in their life.

God expects us to remember what He has done for us

Except for Moses, Aaron, Caleb and Joshua, the people of the Nation of Israel FORGOT that God brought them out of Egypt to the edge of the promised land, while performing great signs along the way. God said to Moses, “How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?” (Num 14:11). Now we know what God expects from us.

Going forward, God expects us to remember and be thankful for what He has already done in our lives. Because Moses remembered the history of what God had done for the Nation of Israel, he faced the future without fear, unlike the forgetful Nation of Israel. This was a major reason why he was a great leader. The nation of Israel ought to be grateful to God for picking Moses as their leader; Moses was hand-picked by God (Exodus Chapter 3).

In the matter of remembering God’s work in your life, are you more like Moses, or the Nation of Israel? 

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Paul Swamidass

Paul Swamidass, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus, Harbert College of Business, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA. INTEREST: Leadership training for leaders of Christian organizations. He has published some articles on Christian leadership and contributed to some Christian-leadership training in India in partnership with The Kerusso Institute for Global Leaders

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