Have you ever felt trapped in the consequences of someone else’s bad decision? Joshua and Caleb spent an additional 38 years in the wilderness because they were outnumbered by their faithless peers. What hope is there for us when we must reap what we did not sow? Join us for today’s episode as we bring these difficult questions under the light of God’s Word.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined me again today as we continue our discussion of “Making the Best of a Bad Decision.” If you were with us last time, you know that we spoke about Israel in the desert, and we talked about what it is like to live with the second best, and how God is able to take the second best and even make it the first best. But today, we’re speaking about Joshua and Caleb because they became victims of other people’s decisions.
You remember twelve spies went into the land, ten came back and said, “Let’s not go in because there are giants in the land.” Joshua and Caleb disagreed and said, “We can go in and we can conquer.” So, they tried to persuade the people that victory was doable but they lost in the count and Israel was condemned for 38 more years in the desert. Joshua and Caleb weren’t a part of that decision, as I’ve already emphasized, but there they were also trekking with the other people in the midst of, often times, deprivation, lack of water, and all of the other experiences that they had there in the desert. But how did they react? Maybe you are responding to bad decisions that others have made for you. As far as we know, they did not retaliate. I don’t think that they spent those 38 years saying, “I told you so.” You know, often times when someone wrongs us, our first question is, “How do we get even? How do we get vengeance?” That should not be our first question. Our first question should be — “How do we glorify God in the midst of this situation, even as we suffer as the result of other people’s decisions?”
Now, God said that the whole generation of adults was going to die in the desert except Joshua and Caleb because they were the ones that were obedient and eventually, of course, they get into the land and Joshua becomes a military leader but I want us to be reminded of Caleb. He is a remarkable person. First of all, he was not an Israelite. You know, the Bible says he was a Kenizzite. There was a racial issue there but he didn’t allow that to hinder him from great victory. You think, for example, of his age, eighty-five, and he said to Joshua, “Give me this mountain.” Isn’t that remarkable? That even at that age, he was not prepared to retire and to say that, “I’m old enough now that I should be able to live in a sense of peace and without conflict.” No, he says, “I want to conquer a mountain even at the age of eighty-five.” Well, we could say today that, actually, in our mind, he should have been able to get a condo in Florida and spend the rest of his days playing shuffleboard or some other kinds of games, but he wanted to be faithful to the end. Now, here is the lesson that we must learn: Here’s a man who is a Kenizzite, old age — that was one of his characteristics, vilified by his peers, the Bible says that people took up stones and wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb and yet there he is choosing a mountain to conquer.
I don’t know where you are at, possibly you are the victim of other people’s bad experiences, other people’s bad decisions but I want to emphasize that in the midst of your situation, even though it may not be of your own doing, God still has a mountain for you to climb and let me tell you exactly where He begins. The Bible says in the book of Numbers, “I’m going to bless Caleb because he was a man of a different spirit.” You read the Bible and you discover, I’ve been told that the word “heart” appears in the Bible something like 800-900 times. What God wants is our hearts and if He has your heart, He says, “I still have a purpose for you, even though you are a victim. I’ve not abandoned you. In fact, I’ll come and I’ll strengthen you and I’ll help you on your journey, all the way to the finish line.” God is there amidst the various decisions of life.
Now, I want you to be sure to join us next time because we’re going to talk about marriage. I’m going to speak about bad decisions that have been made. I’m going to tell you about a woman who said, “A week into my marriage, I had buyers remorse.” Well, what does she do? You stay tuned but as for today, you just go with God.