|Volume 20 Number 8 August 2018||
Gary C. Hampton
The Lord’s words regarding Caleb are remarkable. “But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and he has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it” (Numbers 14:24). They stand out all the more because they were spoken when the children of Israel were being told they would not see the Land of Promise.
Caleb was set apart because he went against the crowd. Ten of the spies caused the hearts of the people to melt by reporting that the land devours the people who live there, and they had seen giants who made them feel like grasshoppers (Numbers 13:31-33). Caleb believed in God, announcing that they could overcome the land (Numbers 13:30; Joshua 14:8-9).
Caleb remained faithful while others died, despite the fact that Joshua was God’s appointed leader. Everyone in his generation died in the wilderness, except for Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:20-23; Joshua 14:10). Others sinned against God by rebelling against the Almighty, but Caleb remained true.
Caleb was rewarded because of his faithfulness.
Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said. And Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. Hebron, therefore, became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. (Joshua 14:12-14)
Caleb challenges us to be men and women of God. The majority around us may clamor for things contrary to God’s will. We must go against the crowd (Matthew 7:13-14). Others will die in their sins. We must remain faithful. The Lord’s reward awaits us (2 Timothy 4:6-8; Revelation 2:10).
Unintended consequences are outcomes that are not the ones intended by a purposeful action. While the outcome could be positive in nature, typically it refers to a negative, unexpected disadvantage occurring, in addition to the desired effect. For example, following an intense lobbying effort by big banks to address rising loan defaults, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act was enacted in 2005, which made it costlier for people to declare bankruptcy. Yet, that legislation may have led to more—not fewer—loan defaults, especially defaults on home mortgages.
There can be unintended consequences spiritually as well. An example of this is found in Numbers 13-14. Of the 12 Israelite spies sent into Canaan to bring word of the abundance the land possessed, only 2 encouraged the people to obey the Lord—Joshua and Caleb. The other 10 were fearful of the inhabitants of the land, and their words served to discourage the people from taking possession of it. While they effectively stopped Israel from going at that time, they didn’t foresee what that would do to them. The result of Israel’s rebellion against God brought 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. “But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, 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 14:21-23). For those 10 spies, none of them could have imagined what God said regarding them. “As for the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land and who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing out a bad report concerning the land, even those men who brought out the very bad report of the land died by a plague before the LORD” (Numbers 14:36-37).
God offers us His good will to bless us and to provide for us, physically and spiritually. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). Like the Israelites of old, there are those who respond from their own desires instead of submitting to God’s Word, believing God will still offer them all His blessings. The consequence of disobeying God, however, will not offer His blessings. The unintended consequence spiritually can be disastrous! Paul asked the Corinthians, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” (1 Corinthians 6:9).
In reality, there should be no unintended consequences for the Christian, as God has revealed His will clearly and accurately in His Word. We may want to alter God’s will to suit our sensibilities, but God clearly reveals what happens when we do so (Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 22:18-19). When we deliberately chose to reject what God has commanded in His Word, choosing our own desires instead, there will be consequences, as God has clearly revealed. One may have a convoluted yearning to get one’s own way, but only submission to the revealed will of God in Scripture leads to eternal life. “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32).
Just as it takes knowing the will of God to obey the Gospel and receive forgiveness of sin, it takes knowing the will of God to live out the Gospel in everyday life. One is deceived to believe an ignorance of God’s Word justifies substituting human desires in its place, and that God will provide His blessings anyway. Is there any reason to think that deliberately absenting oneself from the assembly pleases God? Is there any reason to think that not giving to God, but using one’s financial resources to spend on oneself, shows God love? When we have all kinds of talents we use for personal benefits, but refuse to do so for the Lord, do we believe God thinks nothing of it? Will judgment really be a shocking revelation or a reminder that such choices never pleased the Father or honored the Son? Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). We must examine our motives to ensure that the consequences of our ambitions and actions conform to God’s Word. Here is where his blessings truly reside.