Before and After (Numbers 34:18-19)

“You shall take one leader of every tribe to apportion the land for inheritance.These are the names of the men: of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.”

Numbers 34:18-19

At first glance, these verses don’t seem like much in the way of “Wow” factor. It’s just the beginning of yet another list of names in The Bible. And The Bible is full of lists of names. But the thing that caught my attention is not the list (the list itself almost made me fall back asleep), but when the list is dictated. God gives these names — the names of the men who are responsible for parceling out the Promised Land — before the land has been conquered.

As believers, we are prone to parrot back the truth that God knows what’s going to happen. The Bible tells us that God calls the things which are not as though they are. And it makes sense to us that God can say something has happened (past tense) even though it has not yet happened to us present tense. We kinda get that He’s outside time and that we’re the ones caught in the current of time. It makes sense. But I’ve known quite a few believers, myself included, who can trust God with material things and get all twitchy about our lives. This list kinda cut to the heart of that for me.

See, Israel is about to embark on a military campaign that will last about five years. Five years of waging war. Last week included the anniversary of D Day. Hundreds; thousands died on the beaches of Normandy in a single day. One day. Yet God is telling the Israelites that these twelve guys will be around after five years of war. If you’re one of those guys, that ought to make you feel pretty confident.

Now, I know that I can’t apply the promises given to Israel to Christians. It doesn’t work that way. And I know I can’t apply God’s pronouncement that these twelve dudes are going to survive to my life or anyone else’s — God did call these guys out by name. But I can apply the principle behind this and that principle is this: If God says I am going to do something, then I am going to do it no matter what goes on between now and that action being completed. This is not a license for me to go off and do foolish things in the interim, since God may not have made any statements about having all my bits when the thing is done — God didn’t specify that these guys would have all their limbs when they parceled out the land, just that they were the ones responsible for parceling out the land. And that’s another thing that comes up in these verses: What God did not say is almost as important as what He did. God did not say that these guys would come through all squeaky clean and without a scratch. They might be standing there parceling out the land with battle scars and missing appendages, but the would be there. When God makes a promise to get me to a place in my life, that promise does not come with a warranty that I’ll be the same person I am now when I get there. These twelve dudes (fourteen, if you count Joshua and Eleazar, but whatever) would definitely not be the same dudes they were when God made this pronouncement — except, maybe Caleb, ’cause that dude was hardcore before, during, and after the conquest.

If God has said that I will do something and I have not yet done it, then I can rest assured that it will be done. God doesn’t say anything unless He knows it to be absolutely true. And God’s pronouncement that I will get something done does not mean I will be good as new on the other side. I might, spiritually speaking, be grizzled and gnarly on the other side. But I will be on the other side.

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