What an important lesson for us to learn! Will we see what they did and learn from them and then act accordingly?
The place is Kadesh Barnea. The children of Israel had spent two years on their trek from Egypt to the land of Canaan. God
had prepared them to conquer the Promised Land during this season of preparation and now they stood at the entry-point
into the fulfillment of God’s promise made to Abraham over 400 years earlier. Four generations of slaves had been honed by
God into warriors. Just think about it, here they were standing at the point in time when the covenant promise of God was to
be fulfilled – through them! Moses is speaking to them under the unction of the Holy Spirit saying, “Look, the Lord your God
has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the Lord God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be
discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 1:21)
You remember how the story goes; this is the place where they sent twelve spies into Canaan. Ten of the twelve brought
back a negative report; only Joshua and Caleb affirmed the Word of the Lord about the Land of Promise and declared they
were well able to take the land. But the people fell into fear and refused to enter the land and go up against the mighty
fighting force of the Amorites and the giants called Anakim. God was angry with Israel and swore that none would enter into
the Promised Land except Joshua and Caleb.
Once this divine edict was declared and the children of Israel realized their horrible error, they took up arms to go in and
fight. The Lord then spoke to them not to do so because He would not go with them and they would be defeated. They acted
presumptuously, as the Bible tells us, under their own initiative they defied the Word of the Lord. The consequence for this
initiative was tragic. They were defeated by the Amorites and totally humiliated.
What do we learn from this? I see timing as a key truth in this story. The Lord God had set a time for the Israelites to enter
into their Promised Land at the foundation of the world. Everything was now set in place for them. God had gone before
them to ready the battle fields for their victory; angels were strategically positioned to assure their victory. He had already
decreed their triumphs. This is why there should have been no fear in them. Besides, they had already seen how God
protected them and shielded them from harm on numerous occasions. This was their appointed time for greatness.
We see, however, that once they rebelled against God and refused to obey His divine command, the ‘door of opportunity’
shut. This is why they were defeated once they went in to fight. The truth is this: God has a time for everything. (Ecclesiastes
3:1) No where in Scripture are we given the right to determine the timing for the important events of our lives. This then
requires us to know His time-table and act based on our knowledge. Any act on our part other than His appointed points in
time, are carnal initiatives that will not be blessed by our Father in heaven. We need and want His blessings upon us;
therefore, we must discern His timing in our lives.
In Kingdom terms an initiative is something that is created in the mind of man, it is not something created by God and it does
not fit into His divine plan for our life. One of the challenges of functioning in the Kingdom of God is that God’s ways are so
much higher than ours. He requires of us absolute obedience to Him; for that reason, any act of self-initiative is viewed by
the Lord as disobedience. And as we see in our study of Israel, disobedience carries severe consequences. It may be
difficult not to carry this concept into Kingdom living since in the world we are often rewarded for our initiatives. Employers
are glad when they see creativity in their employees and boldness in their thinking. However, this is not something that is
rewarded in the Kingdom. We are servants and Jesus is Master. He alone creates and then we obey. It is that simple.
I had not fully learned this lesson about personal initiative when years ago a young Evangelist in our church family
suggested we assume spiritual responsibility for an apartment complex not far from our church facility. I thought it was a
good idea. Our worship team held evangelistic events in their open square, there was door-to-door witnessing, we had
Bible studies in various people’s apartments, taught children in our Sidewalk Sunday School, and did Men’s and Women’s
ministries there. It all seemed so good.
One day I was asked by the Lord this question, “Who told you to do this?” (Referring to our efforts at the apartment complex)
I searched for an answer and the only one I could come up with was, “It seemed like a good idea when ‘Mark’ suggested it.”
(This is when I learned the difference between a “good idea” and a “God idea.”) I had taken an initiative that was not mine to
take! God was unhappy with me even though what we were doing was “good” in and of itself and it even yielded some fruit.
What Israel did when they finally went up against the Amorites seemed “good” because after all God had originally told them
to take the land.
The value of any Kingdom project is not what it can accomplish, but rather whether or not God instructed us to do it. We can
think of all kinds of good things to do that appear to be wonderful acts of ministry and service to mankind. But if God has not
called us to do them, we soon find that our efforts are futile and the blessings of God are not on us. (Psalm 127:1) Let us take
as our example the apostle Paul who saw a great opportunity in Asia (Acts 16:6-10) and wanted to go in to introduce the
Kingdom of God to the sinners there, yet the Holy Spirit did not allow him to go in. What he wanted to do was good and it was
even consistent with his calling; however, God had another plan for Paul right then which was to minister in Macedonia.
Macedonia was a fruitful place for Paul and he would have missed the will of God had he followed his own initiative about
ministering in Asia. One of the most severe consequences of initiative is that it displaces us from what God wants us to be
doing right then. Interestingly enough, Asia later became one of Paul’s most productive regions – in God’s time.
Knowing what God wants us to do and when we are supposed to do it seem to be the most frequently asked questions. It
may sound trite but the answer is, “You will know it when it is time for you to know.” I look back over decades of ministry to
see the times when I had a definite word from the Lord on a certain thing. He made it so strong within my spirit that I had no
need to ask anyone else about it. The gift of faith was applied to me in order for me to move forward with courage and
boldness. On the other hand, I remember times when I saw a need for some type of ministry or simply wanted to do a
particular thing for the advancement of the Kingdom of God but I had no Word from the Lord about it. I wrestled with it. I
pondered it by the hour. I drew out plans and formulated steps to accomplish those plans. I sought counsel over and over
desiring for someone to affirm what I wanted to do. The times I went ahead and followed my own initiative were times of
failure. I spent precious time and Kingdom resources doing my own thing. My Father is pleased that I wanted to work for Him
and my willingness to serve Him is good; however, even though He is pleased in this way, He cannot bless what He does not
Let us learn from those things that written about folks in earlier times, gleaning from their mistakes and capitalizing on the
things they did wrong. We will then experience the pleasure of our Father in heaven and we will enjoy His full measure of
blessings. I say, “Amen.”
|Learning From Their Journey
|Take No Initiative
By Bishop Randy Barnett
“So I spoke to you; yet you would not listen, but rebelled against the
command of the Lord and presumptuously went up into the mountain. And
the Amorites who dwelt in that mountain came out against you and chased
you as bees do, and drove you back from Seir to Hormah.”.”