Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see (Hebrew 11:1)
Joshua was faithful, and heard God first before relying on his own thought, experiences and wisdom. How is difficult for us not to rely on our knowledge, wisdom and experiences, but God? Yes, it is very difficult because God is not visible. However, this is the faith that we believe our God, and hope in Him, who is invisible. Joshua had a uniquely qualifying faith that pleased God, which the other ten spies did not have.
Shortly after crossing the Red Sea, Moses and the Israelites were able to get to the Promised Land. God said to Moses, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.” So Moses did as God commanded him. He sent out twelve spies chosen from all twelve tribes of Israel. After exploring the land for forty days, the twelve spies returned and gave reports. “It is indeed a bountiful country – a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!” (Numbers 13:27b-29)
Soon there was a commotion in the crowd. The people started looked each other. They could not believe what they heard. The Promised Land was right before their eyes, but it was of no use because they could not get in. The Promised Land was already occupied by the powerful people. Their cities were fortified. Especially there were the giant descendants of Anak, who were truly fearful and terrifying because all were destroyed by the giants. Nobody ever defeated. Practically speaking, it was a suicidal mission to get into the Promised Land. They would not survive except being completely destroyed by the powerful people and the giants. All of the hopes and their faith were shattered. They confronted the harsh reality. They were powerless, and the Promised Land was untouchable. They hoped so long time, but it was a just dream. The entire community was getting filled with confusion, despair and even anger instead of thanksgiving and praises.
However, Joshua and Caleb were different. They were calm before the harsh reality. Like the other ten spies, they saw the identical truth in the Promised Land, and they were surrounded by the despair and anger spewed out by the rest of the Israelites in confusion and disbelief. Even so, they believed God and His promise. Before the impossibility, they firmly trusted God. They could not be silent anymore. They quieted the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” (Numbers 13:30b)
The rest of the ten spies sharply disagreed with their logical rationale. The people chose the ten spies, and heard their voice instead of Joshua and Caleb. Nothing could stop the angry crowd. Then the entire Israelites together complained and protested against Moses and God, who promised the Promised Land. Nobody tried to calm down and ask to God. Instead they used their own eyes and eyes, and made a conclusion – the promise was false, and they should have not believed God’s promise anymore. What a sad moment it was for the entire Israelites! This made them return to the wilderness, and wandered till the entire unbelieving generation was perished in the wilderness. In fact, nobody from the unbelieving and rebellious generation made to the promised land except Joshua and Caleb. Those who got to the Promised Land was a completely new generation born after the unbelieving generation in the wilderness.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrew 11:6)
Joshua had a uniquely qualifying faith pleasing God. He believed God’s promised despite of the impossibility that he confronted with. Surely, fighting against the strong people who were protected by fortified walls and especially the terrifying giant Anakites was practically speaking suicidal. Defeating all these people and the giants and occupying the Promised Land was unthinkable. Who would think that the ex-slave Israelites would subdue the strong people and the terrifying giant Anakites in the Promised Land? Only was Joshua’s faith in God the answer. Joshua resisted and hold on tight His promise in faith. Joshua’s faith transcended all understanding, and made him fix the hope in God while forcefully refusing all doubts in his heart. Joshua completely trusted Him and believed His promise despite all signs against God’s promise.
After the big disappointment of not being able to get into the Promised Land, the entire Israelites wonders the wilderness. However, Joshua’s faith had not been diminished. He had never forgotten God’s promise, and he endured. He waited and waited for God’s promise. After more than thirty-nine years later, God allowed Joshua to return to the same place where he resisted the temptation of trusting his own eyes and joining the unbelieving majority. For this time, the biggest difference was Joshua was the leader of the Israelites. Joshua used to be just one of the twelve voice when being sent by Moses, and now Joshua was at the position to decide and lead the entire Israelites. Joshua had never forgotten the unfaithfulness of the Israelites about the forty years ago at the same place, and the consequence – wondering and perishing in the wilderness. Nobody survived except Joshua himself and Caleb, the two faithful spies who trusted God and His promise before the impossibility.
Joshua did not repeat the same mistake again – selecting spies not by faith but by the needs of the twelve tribes to represent each tribe. Joshua sent only two spies, who truly believed God and His promise. In fact, Joshua knew exactly the Promised Land because he spied for forty days before. Thus, for Joshua, the spies’ mission was not exploring the promised land, but confirming God’s promise by the other faithful people’s eyes. The two spies came down from the Promised Land, crossed the Jordan River, and reported to Joshua all that they saw and experienced. “The LORD has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.” (Joshua 2:24) What a different answer that they brought! They saw the same land and the same people dwelling in the Promised Land. The people living in the land were mighty and fortified with strong walls, and the terrifying giant Anakites were still there. Even so, the spies’ report was completely opposite. Why? The first twelve spies could not see God’s plan in the midst of the harsh reality of the fortified cities, strong people, and the giants except Joshua and Caleb. Before the reality, the majority ten spies’ faith was melted. They could no longer believe God’s promise, which made the entire Israelites lose their faith in God. The second two spies saw the same harsh reality, but they could come to a completely opposite conclusion: “God has given us the whole land, for all the people in the land are terrified of us.” They saw the strong people dwelling in the Promised Land, who were protected by the fortified wall reaching to sky, but they were terrified. Instead through the faith, they found the seemingly strong and invincible people were actually terrified of the Israelites. On the contrarily, God had already made them terrified before the Israelites for His own beloved children.
The situation did not change at all, but the spies could see God’s plan and His mighty hand before them.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? (Romans 8:31)
Before God, who will stand? Nobody. If God is for us, nobody can against us. We are continuously bombed by temptations, harsh reality, associated pains and disappointments in us. Then we constantly adjust, respond and react to things approaching to us every moment. We see and make a judgement, which is our natural mode of operations. We all know without knowledge, making a decision is foolish. However, even more foolish is we don’t believe God and His promise although we say we believe God every Sunday morning. We all nod. God is our Ever-Loving Father and the master of the universe. However, we will know about our faith when there is a conflict between what we see and God and His promise.
Joshua had a uniquely qualifying faith in Him before God. In faith, Joshua resisted the temptation of believing what he saw – the strong people, the fortified cities and walls, and especially the terrifyingly giant Anakites. He could have been terrified like the rest, but he firmly believed God and His promise. Joshua completely trusted God although his eyes observed the completely different picture. It was really difficult to speak against the major majority of ten spies giving the report filled with the full of rational reasons and logic and impossibility. But he spoke out the God’s unchanging promise in faith against the impossibility before the entire people of Israel.
It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned. (Hebrews 11:29)