Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says you can always live by faith.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Let me just say, if you’re eighty-five or seventy-five or ninety-five, or whatever age you are, it’s not too late to believe God. It’s not too late to be used of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, August 21, 2014.

Are you living a life worth remembering? It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your past looks like. Living by faith in God will give you significance. Nancy will explain why, continuing in the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 3): Trusting God for the Promised Land." 

Nancy: As you look back on the course of your life, can you think of a particular moment or incident or time in your life when you faced a fork in the road? There was a choice you had to make, there was a decision you had to make, and at the time, that decision may not have seemed like such a big deal, but as you look back, you realize that decision was much more determinative than you ever dreamed it would be.

Maybe it was a choice of who you would marry. I get emails from listeners often saying, “I married out of God’s will. I didn’t wait for the Lord’s best. I didn’t realize how much that would affect my life.”

Maybe it was a moral choice that you made, and for better or for worse, as we look back, we can see how some of these choices have lasting, long-term implications that we may never have dreamed of when we were facing that fork in the road.

The account we’re looking at in the life of Joshua turned out to be a huge turning point in the history of Israel. It determined the destiny of an entire generation, and in fact, this decision resulted in the untimely deaths of 600,000 men and their wives. This decision determined the course of their children’s lives for the next forty years—a huge turning point in Israel’s history. It was also a significant event in Joshua’s life.

We’re studying in this longer series to see how Joshua made it successfully to 110 years of age. Well, let me say this single event determined Joshua’s future life, his calling, his usefulness. A different response to the challenge he faced here at Kadesh-barnea would have been fatal. If he had made a different choice, we would not be studying the life of Joshua today.

That tells us that the choices that we think are insignificant can be very significant—especially as it relates to our relationship with the Lord.

As we saw in the last session, there are 160 verses, plus or minus, in the Scripture, including the better part of two chapters in the New Testament, 160 verses or more that are devoted to this single incident. So, that’s a lot of verses about one incident, and I just want us to take time over the next several days to marinate in this passage.

I’m talking about Numbers chapter 13. If you’re not already there in your Bible, let me encourage you to turn there, and we’re just going to soak in this passage—walk through it a verse at a time and ask God to show us how it applies to our lives living now in the twenty-first century.

Numbers chapter 13, verse 1, picking up where we started in the last session:

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a chief among them” (vv. 1–2).

Remember, God had rescued His people out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt. God had taken them through the Red Sea. God had taken them to Sinai where He had given them His law, but God’s objective was to get His people home, to Canaan, to the Promised Land, to the place of rest. So the people we saw in the last session had actually initiated this effort—“Let us send spies in to check out the land.”

God said, “Okay, you want to do it that way, do it that way.” And God said to Moses, “Send twelve men out, a leader from each of the twelve tribes to spy out the land of Canaan.”

Verse 3: “So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran.” Now, this wilderness is at the southernmost border of Canaan, and they’re at a place which will become known as Kadesh-barnea. Sometimes it’s just called Kadesh. They’re parked there at the southern entrance to the Promised Land. It’s right in front of them. They just need to go in and take the land as God has told them to do, and right there at the southernmost border, at Kadesh-barnea, comes this incredible incident in their history.

So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran according to the command of the Lord, all of them men who were the heads of the people of Israel. And these were their names (vv. 3–4).

Now, from verses 4 through 15, the leaders from the twelve tribes are listed, one from each tribe. Now, without looking, how many of you can tell me the names of at least two of the men in that list? I know a bunch of you know—who were they? Joshua and Caleb. Those are the two names we remember from this list of twelve spies.

In verse 6 we see that Caleb represented the tribe of Judah, and in the Scripture, this is the first mention of Caleb’s name. He turns out to be an important figure in the history of Israel.

Then in verse 8 we see that Joshua, who we’ve already been introduced to, was chosen to represent the tribe of Ephraim. We see in this passage that Joshua had risen, not only as an assistant to Moses (we’ve seen him in that role for the last several sessions), but he had risen as a leader in his tribe. Now he’s selected, along with eleven other leaders, to go and search out the land of Canaan.

Now, just a little note here, there are twelve men mentioned in this list—one from each tribe. Can anyone in this room, without looking, remember the names of any of the other ten spies? I’ve been studying this passage over and over again over the last several months. I’ve read this passage many, many, many times, and so help me—at this moment—I can’t think of any of the other names.

None of them are familiar to us. Why? Well, because—as we will see as we continue in this passage—these two men, Joshua and Caleb, are the ones who exercised faith and believed God. They took God at His word.

I’ve always loved reading biographies of great Christians of the past. Right now I’m re-reading a biography of Amy Carmichael, the woman who went into India, lived there for decades and rescued young girls out of temple prostitution. It's an amazing story and an amazing life.

What makes these men and women of the past memorable years later is that they believed God. There were many other women, many Christian women, who lived in Amy Carmichael’s day, but most of them have been long forgotten.

Why does Amy Carmichael still stand out and encourage us today as we read about her? Why? Because she believed God, and she let God use her in ways that others would not have even considered attempting.

As I think about this, and as I think about Joshua and Caleb and those other ten men whose names we can’t remember, I want to be remembered. Not because I want to be remembered, but I want to be remembered as a woman who believed God, a woman who was willing to move forward with God when everything in reason said, “Don’t go.” I want to be a woman that the next generation and the next will look back, and if they read anything about my name, it will be, “She believed God. She was willing to exercise faith.”

So we come to verse 16: “These were the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua.”

Now until this point, Joshua’s name had actually been Hoshea. That word means salvation—not a bad name to have—but at this point, for some reason that we’re not told, Moses changes his assistant’s name to Joshua. Just a little change in that name, but what does Joshua mean? "The Lord is salvation." "God is my salvation." We’ve mentioned it earlier in this series that the Greek form of this name Joshua is Jesus. God is my salvation.

So what’s the significance of this name change? Well, I think it’s a reminder to Joshua and to the nation of where their strength comes from—that their strength and their salvation is not going to come ultimately from Moses or Joshua or any other human leader, that they’re not dependent on Joshua as they go into the Promised Land—but where is the source of their strength and their salvation?

It’s Jehovah—the Lord is salvation—and ultimately, the life of Joshua, and even his name, points us to Jesus, who is the captain of our salvation. The Lord is salvation, and we’re reminded Christ is our hope. He is our strength. He is our source of life. We have no hope of making it into the promised rest of God apart from our Joshua, the Lord Jesus.

So Moses instructs the spies to go into the land, to scope it out, and to bring back a detailed report of what they could expect to face when the whole nation went in to take possession of the land that God had promised to give them.

We read in verse 17 of Numbers chapter 13: “Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan and said to them, ‘Go up into the Negeb.” Now the Negeb is the southern portion of Canaan. It’s a desert area. So they were to go from Kadesh, which is the southernmost portion, just south of Canaan. They were to go north into the southern part of Canaan, which is called the Negeb—“and go up into the hill country”—that’s the northern part of Canaan. So he’s saying, “Go from south to north all through the land.”

See what the land is and whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, and whether the land that they dwell in is good or bad, and whether the cities that they dwell in are camps or strongholds, and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not (vv. 18–20).

So basically, “Go check it out. Come back and tell us what we can expect.”

Then he says at the end of verse 20: “Be of good courage.” Parting words—be of good courage. If only they had remembered those words—be of good courage—“and bring some of the fruit of the land.”

And so as instructed, the spies traveled the length and breadth of the land, from south to north and back again. That was about 250 miles in each direction. The journey took forty days all told. As they went into Canaan from the southern entry, it didn’t take long for them to encounter their first major obstacle.

Verse 22: “They went up into the Negeb [as they had been instructed] and came to Hebron.” Hebron was the first major city that they approached. Now the city of Hebron is an important place in Jewish history. It’s the burial place of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekkah, Jacob and Leah—all these patriarchs and their wives were buried in Hebron. And 600 years earlier, approximately 600 years before this event, Hebron had been the site of a significant event in Israel’s redemptive history.

What was that event? Let me read from Genesis chapter 13, beginning in verse 14.

The LORD said to Abram [that was Abraham's name early on], after Lot had separated from him, "Life up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. . . . Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you (vv. 14–15, 17).

God made a promise to Abram. Now God promised Abram more than the land. God promised him a seed. And ultimately, that seed was to produce Christ the messiah. And through the nation of Israel, through the Jewish people, the whole world would be blessed.

So God promised a land, a seed, and a blessing. But God said to Abram early on here in Genesis 13, "Look at this land as far as you see, I am giving this land to you." So Genesis 13:18

So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron [that's where Abram settled], and there he built an altar to the Lord.

Hebron was the place where Abram first built an altar in the Promised Land. When he built that altar, it was an expression of faith. He was saying, “Lord, I believe that what You have said is true. I’ve come to thank You. I’ve come to worship You. You’ve promised this land, and I believe that in Your way, in Your time, You will give it to us.”

Now, it was hundreds of years later before that promise would be fulfilled. Abram did not live to see the promise fulfilled, but he believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. He believed God. He expressed faith in God’s covenant, in God’s covenant promises.

Now, 600 years later, here are these twelve spies, the recon team for the Israelites, going in to check out the land. They come to this city Hebron where God had given these incredible promises to Abraham. So what do the spies do? Surely they knew about these promises—now they couldn’t read them as we can, but this history, this oral history was passed on by word of mouth from one generation to the next. I guarantee you that through those years of captivity and slavery in Egypt, the parents had taught their children, and they had taught their children, and they had taught their children, “Here’s what God told Abraham.”

The spies knew these promises. They had been taught the ways of God, but what did they do when they got to Hebron? Did they focus on the promises of God? Did they say, “Hebron—this is the place where God spoke to Abraham our father, and where God promised him to give him this land, and here we are today getting to experience the fulfillment of that promise. God, we believe You just as our forefather did.”

Is that what they said? Did they hearken back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and how those promises were passed from one patriarch to the next? Did they say, “Lord, these patriarchs, our forefathers, are buried here—Abraham and Isaac and Jacob—and thank You now that You’re letting us come to live in this place that they died without ever getting to see Your promises fulfilled.” No, they didn’t hearken back to God’s promises.

What did they do? Instead, they focused on the challenges. Instead of focusing on the promises, they focused on the challenges.

Look at Numbers chapter 13, verse 22: “They went up into the Negeb and came to Hebron. Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, were there.” There are two more references to the descendants of Anak in this passage. If you go to verse 28, when the spies went back and reported to the Children of Israel, they said, “The people who dwell in the land are strong . . . and besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there.”

Then verse 33, they say it again: “There we saw the Nephilim.” Some of your Bibles may say “the giants.” It’s a similar word, “(the sons of Anak, who came from the Nephilim).”

Now who in the world are the descendants of Anak and why did they cause such fear and consternation in the hearts of these spies? The word Anak means giant, or long-necked. These were a race of giants. The Anakim were known for their great height. In fact, Goliath and the Philistine giants in David’s day were probably descendants of the Anakim.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary tells us that the Anakim had a “formidable warlike appearance.” 1 They were big, they were tall, they were strong, they were warlike, they were scary, and that’s who the spies encountered when they got to Hebron.

As I think about the Anakim, the descendants of Anak, and how the spies chose to focus on the obstacle rather than the promises of God that were so full there in Hebron, the question comes to my mind: “Am I focusing in my life today on the hurdles or on the promises?”

How about you? As you think about your life and what you’re facing this day in whatever season of life you may be in, are you focusing on the obstacles, the hurdles, the giants, or are you focusing on the promises of God? If you focus on the giants, the obstacles, the hurdles, you will have fear in your heart. We’ll see in the next several sessions that that’s exactly what happened to the Children of Israel. If you focus on the promises of God, your heart will be filled with faith. Which are you focusing on?

This is not the last we hear of the Anakim in the history of the Children of Israel. Forty-five years later, we read about the Anakim again. I want to ask you to turn in your Bible to the book of Joshua, chapter 14, and I want you to see the next time they surface in Israel’s history. I love this. As Paul Harvey would say, “And now you know the rest of the story.” Here’s the rest of the story about the Anakim.

Joshua chapter 14, verse 6: “Then the people of Judah . . .” Now this is forty-five years later. The Children of Israel have gone into the Promised Land—better late than never, right? The next generation has entered in. “Then the people of Judah came to Joshua.” And Caleb said to Joshua, “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land.” He’s reflecting back on the incident we just read about. “I brought him word again as it was in my heart” (v. 7).

And Moses swore on that day, saying, "Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord (v. 9).

Caleb was one of two—Joshua being the other—who chose to focus on the promises rather than on the giants, and Caleb reflects back. He says, “Forty-five years ago, Moses told me that because I had followed the Lord, I would get to inherit this land.”

And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me (vv. 10–11).

I love that verse—eighty-five, I'm still as strong as I was at forty. That's a statement of faith. By the way, it’s this verse that has prompted me over the years to ask the Lord, if it would please Him, to let me serve Him full of strength and whole heart until I’m eighty-five years old. My dream is to die in my sleep after I'm done being eighty-five. Now the Lord may have very different plans for me than that, but that would be the desire of my heart.

[Caleb says,] My strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there. [There they are again, and they’re still in the land of Israel when Caleb is saying this.] The Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said. Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance (vv. 11–13).

Then look at the next chapter, Joshua 15, verse 14. I love this verse. Here’s the rest of the story:

And Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak, Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the descendants of Anak.

The very ones he had seen forty-five years earlier that had struck such fear in the hearts of his companions, that had caused the Children of Israel not to go in and take over the land. Now forty-five years later, Caleb conquers these very Anakim at the age of eighty-five.

Is that a great story? I love that. God wasn’t finished. God wasn’t finished with Caleb. It’s as if Caleb’s saying, “God, You have unfinished business here in Hebron, here in the Promised Land, and I want to exercise faith and partner with you in seeing it fulfilled.”

By the way, we have some older listeners—some who are eighty-five and older. I got a letter this past week from a woman, I think she said she was in her seventies, and she loves listening to Revive Our Hearts on ReviveOurHearts.com on the website. I’m so thankful for these older examples of faith and courage.

Let me just say if you’re eighty-five or seventy-five or ninety-five, or whatever age you are, it’s not too late to believe God. It’s not too late to be used of God. It’s not too late to be in the spiritual battle. We’re all in the spiritual battle. Until we set our feet on the shores of heaven, we’re still in the spiritual battle. Don’t throw in the towel and say, “Oh, it’s time for the younger generation to do the warfare.”

God may have a battle for you to fight at eighty-five. It may not be that you go into some land and take over some enemy, but it may be that you fight a battle on your knees, that you’re praying, that you’re crying out to the Lord for the next generation and engaging in warfare against Satan and his forces.

Whatever it is God has called you to, keep in mind the promises of God. Lay hold of His promises. Exercise faith rather than focusing on the giants or the obstacles in the land.

Leslie: The promises of God are powerful. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us why, and she’ll be right back to pray.

I’m ready to focus more on the promises of God rather than my surroundings after hearing today’s message.

To help you keep God’s promises in mind, we’ve created a booklet called Promises to Live By. It’s an easy way to read promises from the Bible and make them part of your life. We’d like to send you the booklet as our thanks when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size.  

We can’t provide this program each weekday without the support of our listeners, and your gift makes a big difference. When you help make the ministry possible, ask for the booklet, Promises to Live By. We’ll be making this offer until next Friday, and we’ll send one booklet per household. The number is 1–800–569–5959.  

The giants we face are not only out in the world. We face giants in our own hearts when we focus on our weaknesses. Nancy will show you how to change that focus tomorrow. Now she’s back to pray.

Nancy: Father, thank You for the incredible example of Caleb and Joshua and how they believed You. I confess that so often I’m more focused on the giants, the obstacles, and the hurdles. Help us in the face of the giants to remember the promises and to trust You and to move forward in Your name. Amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

1Easton’s Bible Dictionary Online, “Anak,” http://eastonsbibledictionary.com/search--anakim.

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