In sports, an ejection is the elimination of a player (or personnel) due to a violation of the rules. Common violations leading to ejection are: unsportamanlike conduct, mistreating officials, or egregious violation of the rules. Players as well as coaches, managers, or other non-playing personnel can be ejected. Usually someone isn’t acting in accordance with the rules of the game or they are getting out of hand with their comments to officials. It never looks like a fun experience and those ejected are usually churning out a slew of obscenities as they are escorted out.
In Numbers 13, the Israelites began to conquer the Promised Land. Upon arriving in Canaan, Moses sent twelve spies for forty days to determine if they had a chance against the current inhabitants. “Go up this way…and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not. Be of good courage” (vv 17-20).
Twelve spies went in; ten come back with a bad report: Yes! The land is good. No! It cannot be conquered. “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey…Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak (giants) there…” (vv. 27-28).
Only two of the twelve, Joshua and Caleb, were ready to take the land, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (v.30). But the ten were adamant, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we” (v. 31).
Two books back, in Exodus, God spent most of the book saving the Israelites.
From their clothes wearing out.
The phrase “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” is used over 30 times in various ways between Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Repeatedly, God had to remind the obstinate Israelites that He is the God who brought them out of the land of Egypt.
His goal for the Israelites was the Promised Land. As in…the land He promised them. But they were so scared, so angry, so discontented, they couldn’t see past themselves to what God was trying to do.
Sometimes, in the midst of uncomfortable situations,
we trade the truth we know
(God promised them the land, He practically GAVE it to them)
for a lie we believe
(it’s better to go back to Egypt).
They were too afraid to go forward. Even though they knew God’s promise lay ahead, they would rather go backwards.
Joshua and Caleb saw the same land the others did but saw a different some one. They didn’t fear because they saw it through the lens of what they knew about God, “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them” (vv. 7-9).
The difference between the ten and the two? A matter of the spirit, “But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.” God was looking for a heart to delight in. His pleasure was for His children to receive the inheritance He had for them (v24).
Sadly, because the Israelites rejected God’s plan, He rejected them from His promise, “The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in”(vv. 29-30). They would never enter the Promised Land.
God knew how many times the Israelites had tested him, “All these men have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice” (v.22). God knows when we doubt Him and knows when we test His plan. It breaks His heart and it puts us out of God’s will. Because of this, a trip that should have been taken a few months ended up with the Israelites wondering the desert for 40 years.
For me, the saddest part is the end of chapter 14, “Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies, for the Lord is not among you. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you shall fall by the sword; because you have turned away from the Lord, the Lord will not be with you” (vv. 42-43, emphasis added).
Because the Israelites rejected God’s promise,
He ejected them from the game
and often times we do the same thing.
We reject the Lord. He is no longer part of our plans. We are left defenseless and in danger.
Sometimes God’s plans feel scary. Sometimes, we complain about our circumstances a little more than we should (present company included). Sometimes, we condemn ourselves to wander in a place we were never meant to spend more than a few days in. When people come to me for counsel regarding decisions in their life, my number one piece of advice is, “Never be afraid of what the Lord has for you.” Don’t allow what you see in front of you to overshadow what you know about God and His great love. He has good plans. He wants to keep you in the game. If you are obedient, you can be a mighty player on His team. Play by His rules, don’t mouth off to the Official, and play the game in order to win “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).