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Leadership: success vs. obedience

Today’s reading: Numbers 11:1-13:33

My selection: Numbers 13:30-33

But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 32 So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. 33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

My reflections: Caleb showed leadership characterized by faith, wisdom, and courage in speaking up in opposition to the conclusion of his fellow spies. The Lord had told Moses to send the spies into the land of Canaan “which I am giving to the people of Israel” (vs. 2). Caleb believed that God was giving them the land. The mandate for the spies was not to determine the viability of the invasion but the nature of it. The ten spies saw giants and danger, not God and His promises. Their report was, of course, self-contradictory. They said that the people were stronger than Israel and that the land devours its inhabitants. If the latter were true no one would be living in it and the spies themselves would not have returned safely.

Alas, wise and believing leaders are not always able to turn the tide of human events. The people would listen to the voice of the doubters and refuse to enter the land. Nevertheless, God would make Caleb a shining example by preserving him strong and healthy through the forty years of wilderness wanderings. He and Joshua alone would see the Promised Land as a reward for their faith. Caleb did not “succeed” but he did obey and for that he was rewarded.

My challenge: Do not think your leadership has failed if you have been obedient. Success is in God’s hands. Obedience is in ours.

Tomorrow’s reading: Numbers 14:1-15:41

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