Majority Retort

Today’s Torah taste is Numbers 14:4-10. It reads: 4 So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.” 5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. 6 Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8 “If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us– a land which flows with milk and honey. 9 “Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” 10 But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the LORD appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel.

In this passage God’s covenant people fail to believe the faithful spies. After the leaders of the twelve tribes went into Cannan as spies, they reported back to Israelites the Land’s prosperity and the might of its inhabitants. Against the advice of Joshua and Caleb they became fearful and rejected the Lord’s Land gift. This resulted in God judging the older Exodus generation with death in the wilderness. And it resulted in giving the Land to the younger generation after forty years of wilderness wandering was completed.

There was no good reason for Israel not to trust God to lead them victoriously into Canaan. Since the nation left Sinai God demonstrated His supernatural power to the Israelites. He provided manna and the Spirit. And He bestowed the gift of prophecy on the 70 elders.

So Moses and Aaron try to persuade the people to enter the land. They pray for the nation when the nation is rebellious. Joshua and Caleb warn the people against turning back. They correctly identify their actions as rebellion against God and fear of the Canaanites. They remind the people that God is with them. Yet despite all this the community violently rejected their pleas to trust and obey God. In fact God Himself had to step in to prevent the people from stoning Joshua and Caleb.

What can we glean from this incident? Is there something here that has a bearing on how we live? Does it point to trials we can expect when we unashamedly put ourselves out there as Messiah followers? There is, it does, and it’s this: If we vocally express a minority conviction that clearly reflects what God has communicated in His Word, we shouldn’t be surprised if we experience some kind of push back from the majority who have little or no regard for the portion of God’s Word that has spoken to us. This phenomenon is self-evident across the board both within and outside biblical communities of faith. The majority opinion is not always right. Truth is not determined by cultural consensus, even if that culture claims to be evangelical. It’s determined by the totality of God’s Word!

Involvement in Messianic ministry is an expression of a minority conviction that clearly reflects what God has communicated in His Word. More specifically; recognizing the mandate of Jewish evangelism and the centrality of the Jewish people in the redemptive/ prophetic program of God is an expression of a minority conviction that clearly reflects what God has communicated in a significant portion of His Word!

In the predominantly non-Jewish Christian world, not only should we not be surprised by apathy and indifference towards such convictions; but also we should not be surprised by an increasing degree of resentment.  As we move ever closer to the unprecedented anti-Jewish persecution preceding Messiah’s return, most claiming to be aligned with the Jewish Messiah will not be living God’s will with respect to their attitudes and actions towards the Jewish people.

So how should we respond to people who don’t share or even resent our minority convictions? Well, like Paul told Timothy when Timothy had to deal with false teachers; we should initially respond with sincere patience and gentleness, reflecting the fruit of the Spirit. And since the Spirit lives in us, that kind of response is doable for us. And certainly in the days ahead, this is a response that we’ll increasingly need to demonstrate when expressing a minority conviction that results in a majority affliction.

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