Devotional - Navigating The Valley Of Decision

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. So they went up and explored the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, near Lebo-hamath. Going north, they passed through the Negev and arrived at Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai—all descendants of Anak—lived. (The ancient town of Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian city of Zoan.) When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs. That place was called the valley of Eshcol (which means “cluster”), because of the cluster of grapes the Israelite men cut there. – Numbers 13: 21-24 (NLT)

    Life is made up of a series of choices which we must make. The direction our lives head in is based upon these choices; these decisions. Some are of little to no consequence while others determine who we are to become for decades if not generations in our families. I have written before about how God seeks to be the God of our decisions, not just our problems. That is we could ever learn to rely upon God during the decision making process we would find ourselves with far fewer problems in this life. Today we will turn to the Valley of Decision the Israelites faced just outside the Promised Land. It was also known as the Valley of Eschol; explained in the key verses. Within the story behind these verses are some keys for us today to consider as we face our Valley of Decision.

    The backdrop is this – God had promised to the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey. He had delivered them from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Similarly, God has delivered us from the slavery and bondage of sin and this world when we turned to Him as our Lord and Savior. The Israelites watched as God defeated the Egyptians at the parting of the Red Sea. They watched as God led them as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They watched as God provided them with manna from heaven to sustain them and even quail when they complained of a lack of variety. Likewise, we too have watched as God has provided supernaturally in our lives. He has led us likewise day and night. He has defeated the foes that were chasing us. He has sustained us in all we need. As with the Israelites, He is taking us on a journey to a land He has promised us. The Bible says that He has prepared great works for us to do; in advance. The eternal life is the abundant life Jesus promised us. Sometimes we find ourselves in the Valley of Eschol; on the outskirts of the Promised Land. It is a place where decisions must be made in our lives. Big and important decisions. The type of decisions that will forge who we are in this life. This is where we find our key verses today. This is where we may find ourselves today as well. What can we learn from this story in our own decision making process?

    First of all, the decision is usually not an easy one and there are giants in the way. The descendents of Anak were in fact a race of giants that lived during this time. The Philistine Goliath is said to be a descendent of Anak as well so going by that story these giants were at least 10 feet tall. Now, of the 12 spies who were sent out, ten returned with a very negative report:

    But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” – Numbers 13: 31-33 (NIV)

    I always key in on the last line of these verses where the ten spies admit that in their own eyes they seemed like grasshoppers. This is the second lesson for us today. This is what the giants in our lives will do to us. They will instill a fear in us about their strength and reduce our own abilities in our own eyes. When we are in the Valley of Decision the enemy will make the smallest things seem like giants to us by reducing who we believe we are. We will look upon what we have to face as being insurmountable even though the Bible says our faith can move entire mountains. His goal is to muddy our decision. His goal is to get us to either forget what God has promised or to make the enemies we face larger than the God we serve in our own eyes. Fast forward hundreds of years and we find the shepherd boy David delivering cheese to his older brothers on the battlefield. There was a giant there that day too named Goliath. To the fighting men of Israel he was too big for them to fight. I am sure we can all relate that sometimes the things that come up against us in the Valley of Decision are simply too big to tackle. David however did not focus on the size of the enemy – instead he focused on the size of His God; just like Caleb and Joshua, the remaining two spies from the Valley of Eschol:

    Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” – Numbers 14: 6-9 (NIV)

    Do you notice the stark differences in the reports? The ten focused on the giants and never mentioned God at all. Joshua focused on God and barely mentioned the people in the land. Why? Because they do not matter to someone who has faith in God! What are we focusing on when we find ourselves in the Valley of Decision? The problems and obstacles or the God we have believed in? This is the third lesson today – the Valley of Decision requires a focus on God, not on your surroundings. The devil will use whatever he can to distract you in the valley. He will raise up giants that will make us feel like grasshoppers in our own eyes. It matters not. What matters is the size of the God we serve; as the shepherd boy David explained to Goliath:

    David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” – 1Samuel 17: 45-47 (NLT)

    Oh that we would learn to talk to our enemies in such a way. The truth is that we lend too much power to our enemies. More than they deserve and more than they have earned. The cowering men of Israel were like that when they saw Goliath. David however, spoke his faith. We need to realize some truths today if we are to come through the Valley of Decision as God intends for us to. Remember, Israel did not. They believed the report of the ten and God would have them wander in the wilderness until the entire unbelieving generation died out, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. I know other people who have come out on the wrong end of the Valley of Decision and it has permanently affected their lives or decades passed until the decision would be righted. The first truth is that it is the decision is of great importance. We need to see beyond the little patch of ground in front of us. Play out the scenario to its logical end to see where we will end up. For the ten spies and the majority of the Israelites, going back into slavery or the wilderness were more acceptable a choice than walking into what God had already promised them! I know that may sound ridiculous on the surface but how many of us know people who have essentially done the same thing? People who have chased their decisions through a medication bottle only to find themselves addicted with years of their life being paid as the cost. People who have stayed in an unequally yoked relationship chasing their decisions based on the worldly concept of love only to reap the heartache God warns us about in His Word. I am sure we can think of dozens of other examples. Where people could trace back their missteps to the Valley of Decision and the poor choices they have made.

    Secondly, the decision is not usually as difficult to decipher as we make it out to be. We give too much life to the mystery surrounding the decisions we face. This should not have been a hard decision for the Israelites. Why? Because God had already promised it to them beloved! God is not going to lead you to the edge of a decision He wants you to make and then renege on His promises.

    God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? – Numbers 23: 19 (NLT)

    The decision facing Israel was a lot easier than they made it. God promised it – God will deliver it. Likewise, when we face our Valley of Decision the choice is probably a lot clearer than we give it credit for. We allow the enemy to muddy the picture like the Israelites did. Or maybe we just do not like the decision we know is the right one. Maybe it is unfair in our eyes. Maybe it seems to make us uncomfortable. Maybe it grates against some basic human desires that we have. Whatever the reason, we probably know what the right course is. We see the grape clusters are huge and the land is good but we prefer to listen to the negative reports. Change is always scary to us. Especially radical change that requires a step of faith into the unknown. God is not asking us to know – He is asking us to believe Him.

    I understand the difficulty involved in such a situation. I know the Valley of Decision intimately. I know the desire to want to hang onto things that God is saying to let go of. Good things. Comfortable things. Things you have worked very hard for. I understand that sometimes it may not even seem fair. It may seem too difficult. The giants will appear to be so big and too strong. And within our own strength they are! Even though the reality of the decision might be easier than we are willing to admit – the valley itself is always very difficult on us.

    Lastly, God will always see us through the valley if we allow Him to lead the way. Joshua and Caleb would see God deliver great and powerful cities such as Jericho into their hands. David would toss a stone and slay the giant named Goliath. The three Hebrew boys in the Book of Daniel faced the Valley of Decision one day. The pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar had decreed that everyone must bow down to the idol he had erected. The flesh must have been screaming at them to bow down! The world and the surrounding peer pressure must also have said to bow down. The enemy must have been whispering in their ears about self-preservation and that bowing down was not that big a deal. The valley could have been quite muddied that day for them if they listened to the pressures from the world, their flesh or the enemy. They of course did not. They focused on the God that they serve:

    Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” – Daniel 3: 16-18 (NLT)

    The truth is that we spend too much time in the Valley of Decision defending what we know is indefensible. We justify the poor decisions and compromises with worldly excuses and fleshly logic. We use well crafted arguments filled with human wisdom and then wonder years later where everything went wrong. The three boys here state unequivocally – we do not need to defend ourselves to you! The God we serve can save us but you know what? Even if He does not – I am ok with that! Either way, I know what the right decision is and I am going to make it and trust God to be God.

    The Valley of Decision is not an easy place to be; I know. I also know it can be a long time before we come out of it because we allow the muddying of the picture. We consider the size of the giant before the size of our God. Sometimes, we want to stay in the valley or even worse, turn back to the unknown of the wilderness or the slavery of Egypt. That is how difficult big decisions can be. That is how difficult change can be. Today I pray that we realize the importance of the valley and the decisions we face. Poor choices can have ramifications beyond what we can comprehend right now. Years can be at stake or even decades. I pray that we recognize that decision is probably not as difficult to discern as we make it out to be. We need to look at why we are afraid to make the right choice and turn it over to God. Lastly I pray that we focus on God and allow Him to lead the way out of the Valley of Decision. Because the opposite truth exists – if we make the right decisions that can set us up for years or decades of prosperity. Walking in the favor and under the plan of God is where we all should strive to be. No matter how big the giants are that we face. No matter how we might fight against change. No matter what.

    Reverend Anthony Wade – September 26, 2012
  2. Hey Reverend Wade, I love this. Good, practical sound advice from the bible about putting our faith in God and the responsibility still lies with us to DO what he wants us to do, but having the faith he will remain with us even if it means life or death.
  3. Thanks alot for your response! It is a very difficult place sometimes but since we know He is working all things out for our good we may as well bend to His way. Every time I have tried my way it has paled in comparison. Thanks again!
  4. God bless you. I was drawn to this as you referenced the OT specifically and eloquently to explain real life, practical decisions we make in our life. I am finding, and this is just a cursory search of this site and various other Internet sites I view that people want to reach the Promised Land after salvation without venturing forward towards Mt. Sinai, or building "their" sanctuary, or wandering through the wilderness. My opinion are people are taught they have God's salvation now, lets just stand at the banks of the Red Sea and sing praises that we were delivered instead of venturing forward. This may be only my perception, but thought I would share and Shalom to you and your family.
  5. Thanks Ryan. I think that what we see are alot of churches who follow carnal theories of church growth that tend to stay away from the more personal and difficult topics such as sin and repentance. The Gospel continues to be compromised, one small bit at a time before you can no longer tell the difference between the world and the church. This combined with some heretical teachings, such as we saw with Rob Bell and the "Love Wins" gospel or the more recent "grace alone" gospel that distort what people need to be doing as believers. Too many churches are social clubs entertaining the saints instead of triage units ministering to the lost. Thanks again.
  6. I believe the farther we stray towards apostasy, the more we need teachings like this based upon the foundations of the bible, which to me I refer as the Torah, to others, the first five books of the bible.
  7. Well, i think as with everything we need a balance. We are in fact under the new covenant, not the old. Jesus raised the bar on the OT. He dealt with the root cause of sin, not just the symptoms. Instead of thou shall not kill it was thou shall not be angry. Instead of thou shall not committ adultery, it was thou shall not lust. Either way, too many cherry pick what they like and avoid what they do not like. I love the Torah, the Gospels, the Epsitles, The Prophets...all of it because it is all God's Word and the treasures never end if you seek them!
  8. Yes the balance is key, but understanding the root of our faith is essential. Maybe we can have a discussion on the covenants when I get there in my studies. But so far, I am only on Leviticus in my studies, some prophet readings and just delving into Luke.
  9. I think we are agreeing. All Scripture is God breathed and useful according to Timothy. We run into danger when we ignore any of it.

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