When reading Francine Rivers' book,"The Warrior", which was a fictional account of Caleb's life I was struck by a larger truth. The Israelites were given an important task, a command to take the promised land. They stopped short. By the end of the book of Joshua we see that the Israelites had won all the battles but failed to take the land. Several towns which had been taken were even abandoned and then the Canaanites had moved back into them. It must have been really hard to keep after the task year after year. I can't imagine what butchering people day after day would do to man a but of course, the consequences of not finishing the task costs Israel centuries of disobedience and hardship.
We have been given a task as well. We are to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. We have for 2000 years so far fallen short! Yes, it is hard. There are a lot of reasons to stop short. We are comfortable in the camp. We want to build up communities and organizations that we can hide in. We call it 'being fed' or 'being not of the world'. We stay busy 'loving' the brethren so much that we don't have too much time for more conquests. Beth Shemesh is a darn big and scary town. Maybe next year. Caleb had to make the offer of his own daughter's hand in marriage to the guy who would finally take it. Well, you can't have my daughter but what is it going to take for you to get out and take the next town?
I was reading in Hebrews the other day in chapter 13 and it reinforced this point for me. Hebrews 13:11-14 says,
For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
People talk about being far away from God all the time. Some people feel disconnected from Jesus and if you go into any Christian book store you will find shelves and shelves of books on what is wrong with you and how you can fix it. I think the issue is right here in these verses. 'Let us go to him outside the camp'. We sing songs, read the Word, listen to other's sermons, etc etc but where is Jesus? Outside the camp with the needy and poor is where we will find him every time. If we will stop trying so hard to make our home here and seek for a better home in the age to come perhaps we will at last fulfill his calling and go out and complete the task He has for us. It is very hard and costly. In fact, we won't be able to do it without Him. Apparently, we can find Him if we go outside the camp and serve others as He did.