Toward the end of Numbers 14, God’s people are feeling the sting of His discipline, all a part of being sons and daughters, but what unfolds next is a life lesson worth paying attention to.
Under a canopy of thick cloud and smoke, God makes His will known to the people. Under no circumstances are they to enter the Promised Land because of their unbelief and ensuing conduct. Apart from Caleb and Joshua, only those twenty and younger will go in to possess the land while the rest bear the brunt of their iniquity.
Somewhere, there’s been a disconnect. When God says, “move forward,” they move backward and when He says “step back,” they move ahead. It quickly becomes evident that knowing God’s will and doing God’s will are two entirely different things. When you hear God’s voice, you have a choice to make. You can respond in faith or you can insist on waiting for God to move first. The problem is, He’s waiting for you to make the first move.
When God instructs you to do something, what reason would there be for not stepping out in faith? Perhaps you need clarity to discern whether or not you’ve really heard from God. Fair enough. He can use Scripture, an article or even a movie to confirm His will. There’s no limit to how God can confirm His intentions to let you know that He is speaking to you personally.
You might find yourself talking to someone and out of the blue, they mention the very thing you’ve been praying about. Or God may use several people to say the same thing over and over in different ways to encourage you that you are hearing from Him. While God will often send a person or several people across your path to confirm His will, first and foremost, He wants you to be led by His voice. Ultimately, everything must stand the test of Scripture before you move forward. Please note: God is not going to tell you to go and shoot someone, as we often hear Him accused of by some psycho on the six-o’clock news.
After you know you’ve heard from God, it is critical to know and understand His timing before stepping out of the boat. When God tells you to do something, it’s either for the immediate moment or for a set time in the future. As you pray and ask Him for wisdom, you will know with certainty when the time is right. Don’t step out because of your feelings or circumstances. It’s easy to quit a job in anger and go start that business or ministry you’ve been praying about, but if you step out too soon, you could miss God completely. He may have you meet a specific person on your job who is key to your success later on. That’s why you must trust God implicitly.
In the case of the Hebrews, they didn’t miss God because of timing or lack of confirmation. They missed Him because of downright disobedience. The captain of an army must sure that his troops will follow his every command in the battle. They must trust him to know what they don’t know and see what they can’t see in the battle. If they do not listen and obey, chaos erupts and lives are lost.
Before God opens a door of opportunity, He has to be certain that He can trust you to follow His lead. A captain cannot lead an army into battle with them doubting, hesitating and questioning his every command. God’s people did not know Him enough to know they could trust Him and He knew they were far from ready to face the battles ahead. He held them back for their own good.
After God tells the people they’re not going anywhere, they defy Him and presume to go ahead without Him. The word presume in Strong’s Concordance implies that they made a conscious decision to disregard His orders.
While it’s wise to seek clarification and confirmation of God’s will, the bottom line is that when God speaks, ultimately, He fully expects you to obey. God is not a dictator. He’s the Director of a huge, universal production. God knows exactly when certain people, places and things are to arrive on the scene of your life. He also knows exactly when they are to exit stage left. If you can trust God as the Director of your life, then you will experience the fulfillment of His plan and purpose for you.
The opening scene of your life might have started with a tragedy, but God can turn the plot around and give you a happy ending. Or your life may have started well and a catastrophy turned everything inside out and upside down. Choosing to trust and follow the guidance of the Director will determine how your story ends.
The Hebrews did not live happily ever after. Instead of trusting God, they chose to go ahead of Him. The real tragedy is that it didn’t have to be that way. If you’ve heard from God, what’s stopping you from following through? Once you’re 100% certain you’ve heard from Him and have His peace, go ahead and step out in it.
If you don’t trust Him, I dare say you don’t know Him—at least not well enough. When you’re faithful and obedient to His will, God will come through for you again and again.