In the Tent

Last week I mentioned Joshua and how he was Moses’ legacy. He had a front row seat to everything that happened as the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness. At a pivotal moment in the exodus, he and Caleb alone had faith that G-d would follow through:

And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the L-RD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the L-RD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the L-RD is with us; do not fear them.” – Numbers 14:6-9

We all know what happens from here….nothing good.

…none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. – Numbers 14:22-23

…not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. – Numbers 14:30-32

G-d says, “You have seen what I can do and you still doubt me! The very thing you rejected because of fear, I will give to your children.” Fear. Fear is what kept that generation from entering the Promised Land. Their fear was bigger than their G-d. Despite walking on dry ground through the sea and numerous other daily and monumental miracles, they did not trust G-d to go before them and accomplish what he had promised to them.

I’m sure many of you have heard rabbis or preachers or even friends say, “Don’t be afraid of the giants in the land!” Of course they use this very incident in the Bible to make the point that we should not fear what lies ahead because G-d will make a way. I, however, am super realistic. If it was so difficult for them to trust in a G-d that had delivered them from Egypt when they saw his countless grand-scale miracles, how likely is it that we will struggle to have faith in G-d? Highly likely!

What is the key to having an unshakeable faith? How do we get to the place like Caleb and Joshua where we can scoff at the idea that the giants in the land are insurmountable and declare that “they are bread for us”? I want that!!! Don’t you?! I think the key is hidden in a small verse, tucked away in the Torah.

Thus the L-RD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. -Exodus 33:11

Everyone always talks about how G-d would speak to Moses face to face, and the Bible makes a point to tell us this on various occasions, but this one mention is made of Joshua’s time with G-d. One single solitary line of the text holds the key to Joshua’s faith. “Joshua…would not depart from the tent.” For as much time as Moses spent speaking with G-d face to face, Joshua spent even more time in G-d’s presence. The key to faith that  is limitless (Matthew 17:20) is proximity to G-d.  

There is a direct correlation between the closeness of our relationship with G-d and the “size” of our faith. When we are distant from G-d, it allows fear to take root. We put G-d in a box, and the creator of the universe is no longer capable of the impossible but hemmed in by what we think is conceivable. As we spend more time with G-d, as Joshua did, we know and understand the power and might of our creator! We realize that what we can imagine or plan is nothing in comparison to what he puts into motion. (1 Corinthians 2:9) We are surrounded and inundated with his presence and glory and it crowds out the doubt and fear.

If you want to have faith that can move mountains, you must get closer to G-d. Take G-d out of the box that your fear and doubt has placed him in. Suspend disbelief when he shows you the impossible. Devote more time to knowing and understanding the awesomeness of G-d. (Start by reading the Psalms!) Take a page from Joshua’s book; don’t be so quick to leave G-d’s presence and rush on to the next thing. Stay in the tent!

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