There are at least two directions from which temptations to dismiss God’s call will come. Have you ever wondered just how important is it that you DON’T cave to them?
We have some specific biblical examples we can turn to for perspective on this question. And since most of us are NOT the once-in-a-generation leader like Moses, David, Jonah or the Apostles, we’ll look at some more ordinary examples… and then look at what that has to do with today.
Shortly after Israel left Egypt, they sent 12 spies to scope out the Promised Land. They ALL agreed it was as wonderful a place as they had imagined, even bringing back evidence of how amazing the crop yields were.
But ten of the twelve spies had greater confidence in the power of the obstacles that stood in their way than the God who had safely led them out of Egypt with a string of miracles. (See: Numbers 13: 26-33)
As a result of that unbelief, an entire generation was forbidden entrance to Israel with the exception of the two spies — Joshua and Caleb — whose trust in God never wavered. (See: Numbers 14:21-24)
Forty years later, there was a very visible reminder of this promise in the fact that, once Moses and Aaron had died, and they were ready to cross into the Promised Land, there were only two men left of that generation still standing — Joshua and Caleb.
Was that itself enough that Israel would learn their lesson? No, it wasn’t.
Once across, Joshua led Israel as a whole to fight the major battles and defeat the main military threats that would prevent their living in the land, which they did as a unified nation.
Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the Lord said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess. This is the land that yet remains: [God listed them] I myself will drive them out from before the people of Israel. Only allot the land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have commanded you. Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh.” — Joshua 13:1-7
The same promise God had given to Joshua “I will drive out…” was extended to the following generation. How’d they do?
See if you spot a pattern:
Joshua 15:63 But the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the people of Judah could not drive out, so the Jebusites dwell with the people of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.
Joshua 16:10: However, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labour.
Joshua 17:12-13 Yet the people of Manasseh could not take possession of those cities, but the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. Now when the people of Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labour, but did not utterly drive them out.
Joshua 17:16-18 The people of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us. Yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-shean and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel.” Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, “You are a numerous people and have great power. You shall not have one allotment only, but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders. For you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.”
Several regions had strong and defiant enemies that were not interested in quietly giving that land up to the people of Israel.
Did you notice yet how this promise of God looked an awful lot like work? Some things never change.
Israel stopped short of completion. And what happened? Exactly what they were told would happen in the closing lines of Numbers 33.
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. 56And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.”
The book of Judges — which follows Joshua — opens with Israel’s failure to complete that conquest. The SECOND Chapter is the Lord’s chastisement of his people for that failure.
Now the angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”
And some of those hotspots are the very same regions that are points of conflict even to the present day.
What does this say to Christians, whose fight isn’t on the sort of battlefield that Joshua led his nation in, but who define their fight in much different terms, the battlefield of ideas and culture…
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
What happens to a modern culture when a generation of Christians takes a nap and lets that battle rage on without them?
They wake up surprised to learn that gawrsh, we’ve lost a lot of ground in shaping the culture. It’s totally in the grip of people and institutions absolutely hostile to God!
And some of the audacity to ask the question: “Why did you let that happen, God?”
Why did GOD let that happen? Hey Skippy, don’t blame HIM.
GOD wasn’t the one who played Rip Van Winkle for a generation or three while the place went to Hell in a handbasket.
He already GAVE his Church what we need to win. He GAVE us his Spirit, he GAVE us the mandate to Go into All the world and make disciples of all men. He GAVE us his Word and Prayer.
What more are we waiting for, a hand from the sky spelling it out on some giant 1970s Flannel-graph chart?
We all know the Reagan quote, “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
The guarding of our faith is no different.
If we don’t fight for it, make the case for it, and pass it on as a birthright of the generation that follows, how do we possibly imagine they will receive it?
Those two temptations to NOT step up and make a difference in your generation are …
(1) the cynical ‘it doesn’t matter’ argument
(2) I can’t because (x)…
Of course, not everyone is Moses or the apostle Paul. There are as many different vocations that can honor God as there are Christians who take them on.
The question is, if it’s something God has called you to… can we REALLY hide behind either of those two temptations?
It’s not just THIS generation that depends on our obedience and boldness.
The path, say, Denzel Washington or Kanye West will take their obedience will be different than a legislator, a factory worker, a doctor, a teacher, a painter, programmer, or a stay-at home mom might.
Even Franklin Graham had a very different path from his famous father.
You don’t need a seminary degree to obey the call. Just a willingness and boldness to go where he sends you, and say what he tells you.
Get Doug Giles’ new book:
Rules For Radical Christians is not a survival devotional designed to help the young Christian adult limp through life. Rather, it is a road-tested, dominion blueprint that will equip the young adult with leadership skills and sufficient motivation to rise to a place of influence in an overtly non-Christian culture. Rules For Radical Christians gives the reader the keys to become strategically equipped to move into an anti-theistic environment and effectively influence it for the glory of God.