In Numbers 13, Moses sent a dozen leaders (one from each tribe) into Canaan to check it out before the rest of the nation was to go in. They had some instructions to go on – “Enter the land boldly, and bring back samples of the crops you see.” Generations of Hebrew slaves had passed on tales of this great place, but I would imagine it would be hard to swallow as being much more than legend. These nomads, recently rescued from slavery, had heard how great Canaan was, but none of them had actually seen it, nor had the parents and grandparents that had been telling the stories.
So Moses sent the scouts ahead & as they explored, they discovered that this land, this promised home, was indeed everything they’d been told. But they also discovered something else. While the produce was unlike anything they’d seen before, so were the people. They “are powerful, and their cities and towns are fortified and very large… We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” As the scouts brought back the reports of how great the place was and how impossible it was going to be for them to ever experience its greatness, the people grew more resentful of Moses and Aaron than ever. They even plotted to choose new leaders and go back to Egypt to avoid being killed by the stronger nations then living in Canaan.
Perhaps sensing an opportunity to gain position/power in the nation for themselves, perhaps just scared, the scouts “spread discouraging reports” among the people of how disastrous it would be to attempt to enter the land. Surely they’d all be crushed like grasshoppers.
But there were two of those scouts, Caleb and Joshua, who saw the same obstacles and still encouraged the people to prepare to go in to Canaan. Because they didn’t see only the obstacles, they saw God’s potential to obliterate those obstacles. Yeah, they’re powerful, but their power is no match for the power of our God who just parted waters and defeated kings to get us this far.
Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land… They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!
– Joshua (Numbers 14:9)
The sad truth of this episode is that because the people rejected God and bought in to the fear and discouragement, they failed to ever enter Canaan. Only Caleb and Joshua were preserved from that generation because they could still see God’s ability to overcome the obstacles. They’d later become the leaders who led the next generation into Canaan with that same vision and knowledge that “the Lord is with us” – and that’s all the strength we’ll ever need. A leader’s capacity to lead well is dependent on his ability to see God’s potential to obliterate obstacles.
I don’t know where you’re heading or what you may want right now (heck, sometimes I don’t even know where I’m heading and what I want), but I’d guess there will be some obstacles in the way. Be encouraged by His strength. He’s greater than any obstacle you’ll ever face.