Sunday May 1, 2011 | Christena Cleveland
They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
We’re called to partner with God in the breaking in of the new Kingdom. This empowers us to be aggressive. Not aggressive towards other people, but against the powers and principalities in the world and in our own hearts.
Moses sent 12 spies went into Canaan and returned with a report. Two came back with a hopeful report while 10 came back in despair. They were essentially saying that this new reality of taking the new land is great, but we can’t participate in it because we’re too afraid. This story has everything to do with the Kingdom of God in this age, in this new Exodus that was inaugurated by the death and resurrection of Christ.
Identity is everything. Israelites walked out of Egypt with God, but their identities were not transformed in the process. The transformation and restoration seems to be one of the main points of the Exodus. Our identity as sons and daughters and co-heirs is absolutely crucial to the breaking in of God’s kingdom, to this New Exodus, to the creation of a new reality. We can see this clearly in Romans 8: 14-17.
When you go through the process of depersonalization (the process of becoming a group member and adopting the group identity), your self-concept is transformed in a myriad of ways. One way is that your perceptions of your own strengths, power, resources, etc are not based on what you alone have to offer but are now based on what the other group members have to offer. The group resources become your own resources. If you identify with a powerful group, then you feel empowered. “Bask in reflected glory.” Of course, if you identify with a subjugated group, you can feel deflated and powerless.
If you’re living as a kingdom person, as member of the group of people who are followers and co-heirs of Christ, then you’re not going to be afraid of the giants because the resources of the group, the kingdom resources, will be at your disposal and you’ll automatically consider them your own.
We’re called to choose hope. We’re called to partner with God in the breaking in of the new kingdom, in this new exodus. This empowers us to be aggressive. There’s a reason why the Israelites were called to overtake the giant Canaanites. We’re supposed to apply that imperialistic and aggressive notion to our fight on behalf of the Kingdom. We’re not aggressive towards other people, but against these powers and principalities in the world and in our own hearts.