Accepting the challenge
As a believer among unbelievers, without advance laurels, sometimes at a disadvantage, but victorious in the end … The history of Caleb in the desert is a fitting image for the deliverance of Christians, Chief Apostle Schneider says.
On Monday evening, 19 March 2018, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider celebrated a second divine service while in South America. Two thousand believers gathered for this service in Rosario (Argentina), some 300 kilometres north-west of the national capital Buenos Aires. The Chief Apostle based his sermon on Numbers 14: 24: “But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.”
Years of battles brought the victory
Chief Apostle Schneider began by describing the historic context. God was leading His people out of Egyptian slavery and into the Promised Land. Twelve spies were sent to scout out the country and came back with a favourable report, confirming its wealth. All but two of the scouts, Joshua and Caleb, also reported that it was impossible to take the country because of the strong inhabitants and its fortified cities. Sadly, the people followed them. Caleb, however, trusted in God’s help, and God promised him that he would inherit the land he had explored.
But Caleb did not receive it right away. “God did not say: ‘You are the only believer, go ahead and go in!’ No, Caleb had to follow the rest of the people of Israel and spent the next forty years in the desert with them,” the Chief Apostle explained. God was with the people, and provided them with food and clothing. It was only after fighting alongside Joshua for five years to conquer the Promised Land that Caleb finally saw the fulfilment of the promise made to him (Joshua 14: 6–15). God granted him the territory he had explored forty-five years earlier. To take possession of it, Caleb had to fight one more fight, this one was personal.
Years of battle will bring the victory
Through the sacrifice of Jesus, God delivered mankind from the dominion of sin “in order to lead us into His kingdom”, Chief Apostle Schneider said. “To enter this kingdom, we must follow Jesus as well as a certain number of rules,” he continued. “We must renounce the devil, fight against sin, and obey the commandments of God.” The evil one wants to discourage us and make us believe that God demands impossible things from us. Like Caleb, let us trust God and remain faithful to Him.
God will lead believers until the coming kingdom of God. He will provide them with spiritual nourishment. Chief Apostle Schneider saw another similarity: “God does not look at you and me and then says, ‘You are faithful. You can enter the kingdom of God right now.’” Like Caleb, we have to wait for the day of the return of Jesus Christ.
To be able to enter the kingdom of God we have some personal battles to wage. “From time to time, God tells us: ‘Now you have one more battle to fight, a very personal one.’”
- God imposes a burden on us. “We become sick. Or maybe one of our loved ones becomes ill or dies. We lose our job or suffer from some injustice,” although we have faithfully served the Lord for years.
- God asks us to give up our own ideas. “We have our own ideas and opinions on what God should do. We may have had a certain idea about what our congregation should be like, how the ministers should be, or how the Church should develop.” However, God obviously does not always agree with us.
- God urges us to keep all His commandments. “We do our best to keep the commandments, the law of God—except in one situation.” However, God asks us to not give up and keep all His commandments, without exception.
- God expects us to forgive and reconcile. “This is a battle no one can fight for us. We have to do it ourselves. God tells us, ‘Keep trying, don’t give up.’”
- God demands a sacrifice. “He says, ‘So far, your motivation was not that clear. You sacrificed because you wanted My help. You did it because you expected My blessing. This time I would like you to do it out of love for Me.’”
Chief Apostle Schneider: “Let us not be indignant when God asks us to fight one more battle, but let’s accept the challenge! With God’s help, we will triumph!” God helped Caleb, and He will also help the faithful who trust in Him today.
Correction 26 April 2018, 8.40 a.m.: In the first version of the article it read: “And then Caleb had to fight another five years until—with God’s help—the fierce warriors could be defeated.” This is wrong. The last sentence in the third paragraph has been replaced with the following: “It was only after fighting alongside Joshua for five years …”