Turning back into the wilderness
Israel had been to the very borders of the land of Canaan, which God promised to give to them. They could have gone in immediately. However, they sent twelve spies who, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, brought discouraging reports of great walled cities and mighty giants in the land and Israel believed the 10 negative spies instead of God. As a result of this discouraging report, Israel resolved to return to the wilderness. Instead of going into Canaan and possessing the Promised Land, they chose to return to captivity rather than risk a journey of faith.
They disbelieved the faith-cheering report of Joshua and Caleb, which says, “The land we travelled through and explored is a wonderful land! 8 And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. 9 Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” (Numbers 14:7-9)
Not only that they disbelieved this faith-cheering report, but also the whole community of Israel conspired to stone Joshua and Caleb to Death. If not for the appearance of the glorious presence of God that saved them, they would have been stoned to death. Israel committed great contempt against God by disbelieving Him after all the miraculous signs He did among them.
They turned back because they were afraid to fight the giants; they had no faith in God fulfilling His promises. They loved their lives so dearly that they preferred returning to slavery to losing their lives in pursuit of freedom. Painfully, they all died in the wilderness, except Caleb and Joshua.
Whose report have you believed: God’s promises to you or the negative report of your situation? Have you ever found yourself at a place in life, where the way forward looks hard, so you want to turn around and go back to where you were? You’ve tried to move forward in your career or a relationship or your walk with Christ, yet in the process things have gotten harder rather than easier.
When we get to a place, where the way forward looks difficult, we often tend to take a glance back over our shoulder to see what it is we’ve left behind; and sometimes we conclude that it’s just easier to turn around and go back, than it is to continue to struggle to move forward.
This is where Israel was. They turned back from following the Lord. This was also where the Galatians brethren were; they turned back to the world to live in bondage of sin (Galatians 4:9). They couldn’t see any way forward, so they were turning back to what was familiar. “You observe days and months and seasons and years” (Galatians 4:10), Paul laments, recognising they’ve returned to their pre-conversion pagan practices.
Does it not sound ridiculous that the Israelites wanted to return to Egypt after having been liberated from slavery? They were so distraught over this report that they insisted on appointing a replacement for Moses to lead them back to Egypt.
Please don’t turn back from following the Lord. Turn northward, face the giants, and believe God’s word. The wilderness is not your destiny; Canaan is. It’s first-rate folly to turn back, because what you find when you go back to your old way of life is not greater but just the opposite: greater bondage and slavery to what once held you captive.
God’s worst is better than the devil’s best. If you become a child of God, burn every bridge that may suggest a return to Egypt/wilderness. Returning to Egypt should not be an alternative. He does not promise a smooth voyage, but He promises a safe landing. Let your song rings, “No turning back; No turning back.”
Today’s Nugget: Turning back means turning to greater bondage and slavery.
Prayer: I affirm my faith in Jesus through Whom I shall be victorious.
Prayer lines: 09078154261.
Dr. Chidi Okoroafor, General Superintendent, Assemblies of God Nigeria.
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