Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Just As You Have Spoken, So I Will Do

Say to them, “As I live,” says the LORD, “just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you. (Numbers 14:28)
This was the conclusion to the matter of the twelve spies Moses sent to check out Canaan, the land God had promised to His people. Ten came back with a faithless and fearful report: “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we... There we saw the giants … and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:31, 33).

Joshua and Caleb returned with a fearless and faithful report. Caleb said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). Joshua said,
If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them. (Numbers 14:8-9).
The congregation of Israel, believing the report of the ten, cried out in despair, “If only we had died in the wilderness” (Numbers 14:2).

In the end, everyone got what they believed, and everyone received what they had spoken. The ten spies never went up in victory against the inhabitants of the Promised Land, but died of a plague (Numbers 14:37). To the rest of the congregation, who said, “Better we should die in the wilderness,” God said issued this judgment:
The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in the wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. (Numbers 14:29-30)
Because of their unbelief, they never entered into the Promised Land, but perished in the wasteland (Hebrews 3:16-19).

Joshua and Caleb likewise received what they said. After the rest of their generation died in the wilderness, they crossed the river into the land of promise. The book of Joshua records how, under his leadership, the next generation of Israel conquered and inhabited the “land of milk and honey.” And Caleb, who boldly challenged the people, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it,” still in full strength, even at the age of 85, invaded and conquered the region of Kadesh Barnea (Joshua 14:6-15).

This is how it always is. As it was for them, so it is for us: We each receive what we believe in our hearts and speak with our lips. As Jesus said, it is out of the overflow of our hearts that our mouths speak (Luke 6:45). He brought home the importance of this when He said to His disciples:
Whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. (Mark 11:23)
The apostle Paul also saw the significance of this truth, especially in regard to salvation and relationship with God: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

What is it that you believe in your heart? And what is it that you are saying with your lips? Are you believing and speaking in agreement with the promises of God, as Joshua and Caleb did? For what you believe and what you say is indeed what you will receive.

(See also, When It’s All About God.)

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