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The children of Israel stood at the brink of the Promised Land only one year after leaving Egypt. It’s hardly imaginable how many extra years (39) they would spend traversing back and forth through the wilderness. They witnessed the miracle at the Red Sea and were the recipients of the morning miracle of manna, yet they forfeited their right to possess the land—they only had the Jordan River to cross and the land was theirs. Oh yeah, I forgot about those giants. They always show up at the worst times!

Numbers 13 is a numbing story about an entire race of people who lived for hundreds of years in slavery and finally were given the opportunity to break free but faltered because of the voracious rumors that spread throughout the camp. It seems like the people couldn’t think for themselves. Hysteria ruled the crowds. In the face of overwhelming odds, only Joshua and Caleb were willing to go out on a limb and believe in God’s promises.

This story offers several important lessons: It shows how easy it is for people to retreat rather than advance. The crowd isn’t always right. God’s way isn’t always easy. Words have persuasive power! Nations and people can forfeit a future by yielding to fear. They didn’t just delay their entrance into the Promise Land for 39 years; this crowd never got a second chance!

While the story is a sobering study of negative influence, it is also an amazing insight into the future of those who refuse to bow down to the present pressure of the culture. Prophets are often misunderstood. Some of them dress weird and even smell kind of funny (think John the Baptist), but most are humble, yielded servants who are unwavering in their faith and convictions. Breakthrough or barrenness awaits us. It all depends on the voice you choose to listen to.

By: Glenn Burris Jr., general supervisor

served as the president of The Foursquare Church from 2009-2020.