I don’t like people who say bad things about me…do you? But, I’m not the first one. Actually, God has been dealing with that for a long time! He has had people say all kinds of things about Him. Not only that, but some people have even used His name to do things that don’t represent who He is at all! Us humans can do some incredibly dumb things from time to time.
You might remember the story of the spies who were sent by Moses into the Promised Land (found in Numbers 13). They came back with a positive report about what they saw in the land, but spoke negatively about their ability to defeat the giants in that land. God was obviously not pleased. They were speaking as if the Lord of hosts didn’t even exist. There was no dependence on God’s ability to lead them and win their battles. What happened? The people rebelled and didn’t go in. What did God do? He had them live in the desert for forty years until the complainers all died!
But, this post is not even about that! It’s not about gossip, backstabbing, talking behind someone’s back, lying about someone, or anything like that. After 40 years, when the people of Israel were now ready to go into the Promised Land, a few tribes found that some of the land east of the Jordan River was better suited for them. So, they went to Moses and asked him to give them that land as an inheritance…land that was not a part of the original plan.
Read this portion of Moses’ answer in its entirety found in Numbers 32:6-9:
6 Moses answered the families of Gad and Reuben: “Do you mean that you are going to leave the fighting that’s ahead to your brothers while you settle down here?7 Why would you even think of letting the People of Israel down, demoralizing them just as they’re about to move into the land God gave them?8 That’s exactly what your ancestors did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to survey the country.9 They went as far as the Valley of Eshcol, took one look and quit. They completely demoralized the People of Israel from entering the land God had given them.
Did you read verse 8? “That’s EXACTLY what your ancestors did…” Moses is essentially saying that these tribes not walking in unity with their countrymen is the same thing as giving a bad report. He’s saying that if these tribes focus more on themselves and aren’t willing to pay the price for their brothers, they are doing the same thing as what happened forty years before! If you read further, you see that Moses gives them the biggest guilt trip of all (nobody likes those)! He says that the same thing will happen to this new batch of Israelites, and it will be the fault of these tribes who weren’t willing to go to battle with their brothers.
In your church, your organization, your business, or your leadership team, do you have a group walking together that will go to battle together? If you are a member of a committed team, how is your commitment to the values, the beliefs, and the work of that team? You might have excused yourself because you haven’t “said” anything against what the team is doing. The reality is that your actions say everything that needs to be said! If you are the leader of a team, how are you forming unity amongst your team members? Only when a group of people PAYS THE PRICE together will amazing things be accomplished.
Fortunately, this story ended well. All of the tribes of Israel fought together, and great victories were won. Our greatest victories come from our deepest unity. Onward!