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Numbers Bibles

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The other week I received an e mail from my friend in America telling me of his church's decision to send a number of Bibles to India. In January the church prayed about it and God gave them a figure of how many Bibles to send. In February they cleared the church hall to make space to store the Bibles. I wonder if anyone can guess how many Bibles God told them to send. It was 25000! They expect to complete the project by this September .

I am presuming, that, in your life today, there is a great and wonderful challenge that God is placing before you--some thing that He is calling you to do. It is something that is bigger than you can do in your own power. But it's something that God, is calling you to do by faith; because there is rich blessing from Him on the other side of you doing it. It's a gift of His grace to you in Jesus Christ that requires that you act and boldly seize hold of it. It's not something that God is forcing you to do; but it's something that is there for the taking if you are willing to put in the effort to take it. It's something that He will help you to do; but only if you will get active and do it. It's an opportunity from Him. It is illustrated to us in the story in Numbers 13; the story of the people of Israel at the time when God called them to rise up and take possession of the Land of Canaan that He had promised to them. God had made this promise to Abraham but it was going to be fulfilled by another generation.

The book of Numbers is, in fact, the story of two generations of Israelites, the first being the generation that came out of Egypt at the Exodus, the second their descendants As Numbers begins, that first generation is being prepared to march from camp at Mount Sinai to the Promised Land. Now for a short whirlwind tour! The tribes are counted, their arrangement on the march and in camp is determined, the unclean are expelled from the community, the altar and the Levites are dedicated, and a second Passover is celebrated. Everything is made ready for the next step on the way to the Promised Land. All of this happens in the first ten chapters. Phew!

Numbers 10 v 11 to 21 v 35 tells of the tragic wilderness journey of the first generation. The literature is arranged around conflicts in which the Israelites rebel against both God and the leadership of Moses. `Twenty days later the nation set out and came to Kadesh on the border of the Promised Land. Then in Chapter 13, spies from each tribe were sent out to spy out the land. The majority returned in fear and their report so discouraged the people that there was a serious proposal made to return to Egypt. They had seen nothing but problems and giants

Tragically, when the great opportunity from God finally came, the people of Israel failed to seize it--because they were afraid of the Canaanites who dwelt in the land. The spies reported to Moses and the people and said,

"We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan" (Num. 13:27-29).

There were two men who stood out from the other ten spies. One was Joshua --the man who later became the one who would lead the people of the next generation into the land. The other was Caleb of the tribe of Judah.

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it" (v. 30).

But it was no use. The other ten countered Caleb's faithful appeal, and focused on how humanly impossible it would be to seize hold of the opportunity God was giving them. Doom and gloom.

When the other spies were holding back and were saying, "The people who dwell in this land are too strong", Caleb said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it" (13:30). It wasn't that Caleb was over-confident in the ability of the Israelites to take the land. Rather, he was correctly certain that the same mighty God who set the land before them was also able to give them victory in taking it. He was fully aware of the Canaanites. He saw them just as much as the others did. But he didn't have his eyes fixed on the Canaanites. He had his eye fixed on the promise of God . . . or rather on the God of the promise!

. When God told Moses how he would deal with the Israelite evil-doers, one man stood out above all the rest as an example of faith, commitment, and consecration.

"But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereunto he went; and his seed shall possess it!"

However, God, is enraged by the majority of the people's ingratitude and unbelief, and was only finally persuaded not to wipe out the people of Israel by the intercession of Moses. Instead those people



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