The Irresolute Israelites

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Default image

The LORD said to Moses, "Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders."… They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan."

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."

But the men who had gone up with him 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. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."

(Numbers 13:1-2, 26-33)

In the history of Christian churches is any group more maligned than the Israelites leaving Egypt with Moses? As a child in Sunday school, I scoffed at these pathetic believers. Did they not see what God had done for them just one chapter before?

Of course, the older I get the more I identify with the rank-and-file Israelites.

During a recent and lengthy period of unemployment, I declined a job, the story of which serves to establish my brotherhood with the irresolute Jews in the book of Exodus.

The offer came from a company in another city, and it is best described as “just a job.” I could do it. I probably could do it well. But nothing about running this company made my heart leap. Essentially the position would be a lifeboat. Should I grab a sure thing? Or should I wait on the other possibility pending?

As the decision deadline drew near my wife showed her hand. “I am ready to cut loose of the lifeboat for you to get a job you will enjoy,” she said. I could never have asked of her. Her faith freed me to contact the employer and decline his offer.

I declined, but still no peace: I had just turned down a steady paycheck. Was I to tell my friends I had declined work after months of unemployment? What would my parents think? Or my wife’s parents?

The next morning I called the company owner a second time; I accepted the job and started training at the company’s local facility. Two days into it, however, the mistake of it all pounded in my head. Fearing that His provisions would run out, I had failed to trust God.

On the third day of training, I approached my boss and confessed that it was not going to work out. I felt guilty for having strung him along, embarrassed at my inability to listen to God and decide. Fear had driven me into a hole so deep that I couldn’t make out His voice.

As I was saying: the older I get, the more I get the Israelites. God had helped them in the past and promised them a future. Their only job was to step out in faith. But like me, when the chips were down, they chose safety. And the road ahead grew much longer.

*******************Originally that was the end of the story, but now a postscript: After writing this, I interviewed for a job in a nearby town, received an offer that weekend, and accepted it later that week. Since then, my wife and I put our house on the market, found a rent house in our new town, and have a contract on our house. We moved two weeks later and have been happy in our new town for several years now.