"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Raising The Standard: Cautiousness Is Recognizing That The Majority Is Often Wrong

"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereth: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." ~ Matthew 7:13-14
From The Pages of Scripture:
The fact that the majority is usually wrong was painfully clear to a courageous leader in the nation of Israel. He boldly spike out for the minority at a crucial time in history of the chosen people. The majority ignored his counsel and rejected his warnings. Too late to escape the judgment of God, they realized that their cautious leader had been correct. Because he had acknowledged wise counsel and carefully examined every warning, God granted him added years. He also received exceptional strength and an unusual vitality that enabled him to conquer a foreign kingdom and establish a lasting heritage for his descendants. Who gave a special inheritance to his descendants by following the Lord with his whole heart and refusing to accept the wrong conclusion of the majority? Caleb
How Is The Fact That The Majority Is Often Wrong Illustrated In Scripture?
Under cover of darkness, a group of scouts quietly scrambled up a mountainside. These men had been hand picked by their leaders. The report that they were to bring back would determine the course of their whole nation. The men found a place of hiding from which they could view the countryside and then waited. Soon the morning light filled the sky and the men looked out over the breathtaking landscape. One of the men silently resolved that this mountain would become the heritage for his children and their children. Meanwhile, the other scouts stared in disbelief at the massive walls of a nearby city and the colossal size of the giants who guarded it. "How could we possibly conquer such a stronghold?" murmured most of the men. But two of the twelve reminded the rest, "Did not God promise to give us this land? Has He not already destroyed great armies and nations who opposed us?" The scouts divided in opinion, returned to their camp. The majority quickly spread their discouraging report. When the two courageous scouts gave their report and challenged the nation to trust God and obey Him, many of the people picked up stones to kill them. Minds were already made up. The people would listen to the majority opinion. The decision not to go in and conquer the land cost the nation forty years of wandering in the wilderness. During all those years, the commitment made by that faithful scout was never forgotten. It gave him strength, vigor, and purpose in life. Ad the age of eighty-five, he again climbed that mountainside; this time with a group of mighty men who shared his vision and his faith. This courageous man and his soldiers conquered the walled cities and the giants who lived in them. He was then given that mountain with all of its special significance. It was on this very mountain that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were buried. They had received God's promise of this land, and Caleb, by refusing to agree with a mistaken majority helped to fulfill that promise [from Numbers 14 and Joshua 14]
Why Was The Hill Country Of Heron So Significant To Caleb?
Caleb had first seen Hebron when Moses had sent him and the other spies into the land. The sons of Anak, men of unusual strength and stature, lived there. When the spies saw them, their hearts melted with fear. They felt like grasshoppers next to these giants (see Numbers 13:22, 33). But, Caleb focused his attention on the grapes, pomegranates, figs, and clear mountain springs. Here, at the highest elevation in the entire land, he had a breathtaking view of the inheritance that the Lord had promised to give to His people. It was at Hebron that Abraham built an alter immediately after the promise was given (see Genesis 13:14-18). As a man of faith, this mountain had special significance to Caleb. It reminded him of the faith of his fathers who feared the Lord and were buried there. This was to be his home, and he wanted to demonstrate the power of God to his family by possessing it.
What Was The Secret Of Caleb's Success?
Caleb was successful in conquering the most feared men in the land, the Anakim of Hebron. He was an example to the leaders of the other tribes to do the same. But even though they tried to occupy their territories, many were unable to penetrate the stronger cities. A lengthy list of cities which the Israelites failed to occupy is given in Judges 1:19-36. Caleb's secret is given as follows, "Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel" (Joshua 14:14). Caleb himself asserted with clear conscience, "... I wholly followed the Lord my God" (Joshua 14:8). Moses also said of Caleb, "... Thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God" (Joshua 14:9). And God Himself, the perfect discern er of hearts, said, "But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went, and his seed shall possess it" (Numbers 14:24).
What Were Caleb's Lasting Contributions?
Caleb gave to his family some of the best land in the country. More importantly, he gave a land free of the wicked Canaanites, who later became such a snare to many of the Israelites. Joshua sadly declared before his death, "Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in you eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you" (Joshua 23:13). Another contribution was Caleb's being an example to follow. Because Caleb both challenged himself, Othniel, Caleb's nephew, conquered the fortified city of Debir near Hebron. Later, when the Israelites cried to the Lord for help, it was Othniel whom the Lord used to deliver the nation from the Mesopotamians. Othniel became the first Judge after Joshua, and the nation had forty years of peace. (See Judges 3:8-11)
Illustrated In The World Of Nature:
The red squirrel is known by a number of other common names: chickaree, boomer, barking squirrel, pine squirrel, rusty squirrel, red robber, egg-eater, chatterbox, and adjudaumo, an Indian name meaning "tail in the air". The red squirrel lives a solitary life. Seven years old for him, although some red squirrels have lived up to ten years in captivity. Litters of three to eight are born after a brief gestation period of 38 days. The young are born blind, pink, and hairless. They leave the nest for the first time during their seventh week. The red squirrel does not hibernate but remains active even in cold weather.
How Is A Mistaken Majority Illustrated In The World Of Nature?
With a single springlike vault a tiny red blur catapulted out of the fluffy white snow drift. Securing its sharp claws in the rugged pine bark, the vigilant sentry quickly scampered upward to his treetop outpost. From his favorite branch, the furry watchman scanned the forest below. Always prepared to scold an unwelcome intruder, the energetic sentinel often shattered the wilderness with warnings of danger. Far below the majestic pines, a large family of porcupines clumsily plodded through the forest, the red squirrel's tail suddenly stiffened with apprehension. The squirrel had spotted the sleek brown fur of a hungry fisher as it glistened in the winter sun. The ability to digest the razor like quills made porcupine meat a popular delicacy on the fisher's forest menu. As the clever fisher neared the unsuspecting porcupines, it vanished into the snow. The fisher had marked their position and quietly began to tunnel toward the porcupines. In an attempt to warn the other animals, the red squirrel erupted into a frenzy of foot stomping and tail jerking accompanied by a shrill series of vocal alarms. Ignoring the frantic warnings, the porcupines confidently continued their unhurried journey. They could have easily climbed the tree and avoided danger. However, they were confident that no predator would attack their well-protected hides. As the fisher approached its unsuspecting victims, the warnings of the red squirrel intensified. The porcupines paused momentarily and glanced at the noisy chatterbox with an air of indignation. With blinding speed, the fisher lunged from its snow tunnel, viciously tearing into the underbelly of one of the porcupines. The red squirrel watched the fisher as he licked his paws in a moment of satisfied contentment. The blood-stained snow bank provided a sober reminder to other creatures of the fate of one that had chosen to listen to a wrong majority instead of the solitary voice of caution and warning.
The Characteristics Of The Red Squirrel In Scripture:
The red squirrel vividly illustrates alertness to danger in the world of nature. He faithfully fulfills his duties as the "watchman of the woods". Names like boomer, barking squirrel, and chatterbox accurately describe this furry little sentry. The silent dogs mentioned in Isaiah 56:9-11 provide a sharp contrast to the red squirrel:
"All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping lying down, loving to slumber ... They all look to their own way, every one for his own gain..."
The alertness of the red squirrel and its ability to sound a noisy alarm fulfill the requirements God had established for the watchmen of Jerusalem:
"I have set watchmen upon they walls, O Jerusalem which shall never hold their peace day nor night..." ~ Isaiah 62:6
The need to warn non-Christians is the responsibility of every Christian:
"When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man thou shall surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand" ~ Ezekiel 33:8 (See also Ezekiel 3:18)

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