Joshua and Caleb were two men raised as slaves in a generation of oppression and slavery. As Youth Pastor Dru Teves pointed out, they are the original youth pastors because they were the only ones granted the privilege of taking the next generation of Israel into the Promiseland, the land of milk and honey.
Being in youth ministry is not an "age" thing, but a "young-minded" thing. We must invest in the lives of the next generation, as they will one day be the church. The Lord wants to bring light to our darkness, freedom to our slavery, milk and honey to our oppression - but this requires us to have a child-like faith.
The book of Exodus is the story of God's people exiting slavery under the leadership of Moses. Now in the book of Numbers, Joshua and Caleb areMoses' successors, standing on the border of the Promiseland of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey. But not all will enter
1. THE PLAN (Numbers 13:1-20): To be holy
In Numbers 13:17, Moses chooses twelve spies, two of whom are Joshua and Caleb, to scope out the land of Canaan and bring back some of the fruit they find there. The Israelites are clearly focused on their goal of entering the Promiseland.
In reading Jeremiah 29:11-13 and Ephesians 2:10, it is very clear that God has a plan for our lives. However, in pride, we often think that the destination is our ultimate goal. On the verge of "entering Canaan," we may miss the plans that God has for us. God's ultimate desire is for us to become holy, not to simply reach a destination.
2. THE POSITION (Numbers 13:21-29): Get your but out of the way
Returning from their mission, the spies have good news about the land, but they have worrisome news also.
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. Number 13:27-28
The Israelites are standing at the border of the Promiseland, but they chose to focus on the obstacles. They had a "big but" problem. The land is good, BUT it will be almost impossible to take it.
The same is often true with us; we are hindered by the obstacles we see with our eyes, and we may even allow those obstacles to prevent us from following God. For example, if you are starting a ministry for the Lord, you'd better believe that things will get in your way. The devil is going to tell lies and distort God's Word. He did it to Eve; he'll do it to you. Even so, God is bigger than any obstacle, so Pastor Dru's encouragement was to get your "but" out of the way!
3. THE PROCEDURE (Numbers 13:30): Obey God
In verse 30, Caleb encourages the Israelites in this same way, saying, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."
How can Caleb be so sure of victory in the face of these obstacles? Caleb remembers what God has already done for them. He knows that if God wants them to have the land, they will have it as long as they simply walk in obedience to the Lord.
4. THE PROBLEM (Numbers 13:31-33; 14:1-5): Grasshopper Mentality
The problem with this group of people was that they had a "grasshopper mentality." In Numbers 13:31-33, they give gave a bad report of the land because they were small-minded and not focused on God. They say,
"We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."
In response, negativity spreads throughout the community. They:
- Cry in sorrow and fear Numbers 14:1
- Complain about being under authority Numbers 14:2
- Conform to their old lives, wanting to return to slavery in Egypt Numbers 14:3
- are Confused, forgetting in the dark what God showed them in the light. Here Pastor Dru encouraged us to keep a record (e.g. a journal) of the ways God has shown His faithfulness to us and how He speaks to us, so that when times are tough, we will trust in Him.
5. THE PENALTY (Numbers 14:21-23, 36-38): Wander around in the desert
So tell them, 'As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: In this desert your bodies will fall-every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. Numbers 14:28-30
God's consequences for this behavior are pretty severe! The people who have responded in this way wander aimlessly and eventually die in the wilderness, never entering the Promiseland.
6. THE PRIZE (Numbers 14:24,31; Joshua 14:10-14): Enjoy some milk n' honey
However, Joshua and Caleb are spared from this punishment. They are one in a million! They bring their children into the Promiseland, and they are the future of Israel.
But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. Numbers 14:24
7. THE PRINCIPLE (Numbers 14:30,31): Raise up the next generation
Remember how Pastor Dru encouraged us to be "young-minded?" Take a look at Caleb's perspective as he enters the Promiseland:
"Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then." Joshua 14:10-11
Pastor Dru shared that his 85-year-old neighbor serves at Junior High camp every year with vigor and excitement. If he can do it, you can serve, too. We must be invested in the spiritual formation of our youth, living out a child-like faith!