I love it when I stumble over a little phrase in my Bible reading and the Holy Spirit sort of thumps me on the head and says, “Hey Phil, notice this. It’s important for you!”
Tucked away in the book of Numbers, as Moses is apportioning the land of Promise to the twelve tribes of Israel is a little phrase that caught my attention — granted, I had to have the thump on the head, but after that I really noticed it.
You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. … for they have wholeheartedly followed the LORD.”(Numbers 14:30; 32:12 nlt)
We all like to think we are exceptional at something. We all want special treatment and to be granted an exception to the normal rules. But God is talking about a different kind of exception in this case. All of one whole generation died in the wilderness because of their lack of faith. The only exceptions were Joshua and Caleb, who risked their lives because of their trust in the LORD and his great promises. They stood against ten other spies who didn’t feel God’s people could possess the land the LORD had promised to give them.
I want to be this kind of exception. Someone who believes God and stands against the flood of faithlessness and doubt. Someone who is strong enough in personal conviction to go God’s way even if everyone else goes the direction of culture and popular opinion. And amazingly, Joshua and Caleb managed to do this without totally alienating the people who went the other way — initially the people were ready to “string them up” but gradually accepted them and recognized their own faithlessness. For forty years, Joshua and Caleb walked beside their own generation of doubters, they did what God asked them to do as they wandered in the desert, they supported God’s leader Moses in every way possible, and they went God’s direction at God’s pace even though they had to wait for four decades to receive God’s promise because of everyone else’s doubt and faithlessness.
I pray that when the chapter of history for my generation is written, we leave behind a legacy of faith and a new generation ready to receive God’s promises. And for that to happen, more of us — and at this point the Holy Spirit is directly thumping my head and reminding me this means me — have to be willing to be one of only two exceptions!