Numbers 13:26–29 (NIV)
They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
Let’s remember our big banner text flying over this entire series: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Heb. 3:13).
Reverse translation: If we do not encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “today,” we may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
The exploratory spy mission lasted for forty days, and then the spies returned to the wilderness camp. Imagine how eager everyone must have been to hear the report. They could not have imagined how consequential this report and their response would be.
They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.”
So far, so good. Then we come to conjunction junction. And we get the dreaded “but.”
- But the people who live there are powerful;
- The cities are fortified;
- The cities are very large;
- We even saw descendants of Anak there;
- The Amalekites live in the Negev;
- The Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and
- The Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.
Can you feel the oxygen slowly being sucked out of the room?
We have slipped from simple reporting to an analysis of pros and cons. We do it all the time. We go from “God will be faithful to fulfill his promise” to the Benjamin Franklin method with a “reasons why” column and a “reasons why not” column.
When God says go, it is appropriate to “count the cost,” but there is a vast difference in counting the cost and doing cost-benefit analysis. I want to be very clear about something at this point: when God gives a direction or an assignment, we don’t determine its legitimacy or veracity by running spreadsheets to see if it makes sense. God’s will and assignments rarely make sense in the world’s way of making sense of things. We must determine to obey first, before we even get the assignment. Then it’s not a question of if we will obey but how we will execute on our predetermined obedience.
There will be plenty of time to count the costs, and they must be counted. That said, we never count the cost to determine if we can afford it or if we have what it takes. Perhaps one of the biggest signs something is God’s will is we know that we can’t afford it and we are certain that we don’t have what it takes. (Or do we need to call Gideon back to the witness stand?)
Most of the effort and energy to do the will of God I’ve seen and been a part of in my life has been done in God’s name but in man’s calculus. It’s been governed more by accountants than apostles. It’s been run more by best practices than bold prophets. Good work can happen that way for sure. I’m just not sure we should be calling it “God’s work.” I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to be part of God’s work.
Father, we thank you for accountants and calculators and spreadsheets, but teach us where they fit in the sequence of your kingdom and your will. We believe that your vision done in your way always leads to your provision. Come, Holy Spirit, and deliver us from our easy assumption that our conventional ways and methodologies are your ways. Trumpets, Lord. Thank you for reminding us that you defeat armies and bring down walls with trumpets. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, Lord Jesus. Yours alone. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Do you tend to say yes before the Lord gives a vision or assignment, or do you tend to need more data before saying yes? What might preemptive obedience mean to you?
For the Awakening,