Ever been in a situation where you knew God was prompting you to act quickly in that particular moment, but you disobeyed him and talked yourself out of it and then kicked yourself later for missing out on that opportunity? I’ve been guilty of that several times before. In one instance, I had to pick up something I needed from the store one night. On my way there, I had the sense in my spirit that I would encounter someone who would need my help. I knew it was God giving me a heads-up to be ready right then and there.
At the checkout line, sure enough, a young lady right in front of me with two little kids was running her bank card through the card reader and did not have enough money in her account to pay for her things. Her bill wasn’t much and it would have been nothing for me to pay for her stuff, but I didn’t. I just let her walk away with her two little ones empty-handed while the clerk voided the transaction and set the things aside for them to be returned to the shelves. Yes, I felt really bad about it afterwards and asked God’s forgiveness for being so cold. But don’t you know, when you fail God’s test once, he often gives it to you again. So a similar scenario played out again later at a different store, different time of day and that time I got it right by helping a young lady in line ahead of me pay for her items.
We are without excuse in cases where God lines up all our resources perfectly to contribute to his plan in some way, but we back off from acting at the moment he tells us to. Ancient Israel found this out the hard way after God delivered them from Egypt, the most powerful empire on Earth at that time. He wanted them to conquer the promised land with a quickness and proved over and over by his miracles and human resources he provided that he had their back to help them win. In addition to Moses and Aaron, God chose one man from each tribe to stand with Moses. These men had so much potential that even their names were a testimony from God to the Israelites. Their names, listed in Numbers 1, were as follows:
- Elizur (tribe of Reuben): ‘God is a Rock.‘ A name that likens God to a huge boulder, reflecting his trustworthiness, steadfastness, and reliability as well as his might to crush what tries to hinder his plans.
- Shelumiel (Simeon): ‘Peace of (with) God.‘ A name that reassures that one is right with God in obedience and should have no worries in spite of how situations look outwardly.
- Nahshon (Judah): ‘One who has learned by experience (observation).‘ This speaks of someone who knows God well enough to discern right from wrong based on having seen God and his word in action.
- Nethaneel (Issachar): ‘Given of God.‘ Reflects the ability to judge what is truly of God and to humbly admit and accept God’s blessings.
- Eliab (Zebulun): ‘God is Father.‘ And as Father, it is his duty to protect, provide, lead, and teach to help his children navigate through life.
- Elishama (Ephraim): ‘God has heard.‘ God cares enough about us to listen to our concerns, then address those concerns according to his will.
- Gamaliel (Manasseh): ‘God has rewarded.‘ An acknowledgement that “[e]very good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights,” and encouragement that following him will eventually pay off.
- Abidan (Benjamin): ‘The Father is judge.‘ Recognizes that ultimately the Father will have the final say on important matters.
- Ahiezer (Dan): ‘My brother helps.‘ God has our spiritual siblings helping us out, whether they are nearby, in another part of the world, or in heaven, like our true Big Brother–Jesus.
- Pagiel (Asher): ‘God meets.‘ Wherever believers are, God fellowships with us in prayer and in studying his word.
- Eliasaph (Gad): ‘God has added.‘ When believers give their lives, time, talents, and resources for God’s glory, God uses human, natural, and supernatural resources to give to them in “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.”
- Ahira (Naphtali): ‘My brother feeds (shepherds, watches).’ God provides us with spiritual siblings to minister to us and who have our best interest in mind when we need it. This name also points to the Good Shepherd, our Brother, who has given his life for his sheep.
In spite of all these resources, these men and their fellow Israelites failed to live up to their potential because they let fear win over faith. They missed out on God’s Promised Land offer because they refused to believe who they were called to be and God closed their window of opportunity. We can learn from their mistakes.
Harry A. Gaylord