I remember I ran a race at my school sports – it wasn’t a long race – I spent most of my time looking over my shoulder to see how the other boys were doing. As you can imagine I finished well down the field. At the end of the race my father said to me, ‘When you run a race you never look behind you, keep your eyes at all times on the tape at the finishing line.’ There’s no doubt at this year’s Olympics, Usain Bolt and every other sprinter will be doing exactly that.
In the Old Testament there are two great men who kept their eyes on the finishing line and reached their goals. Let us go back to that fateful day in history of God’s people, which is recorded in Numbers chapters 13 and 14.
The Israelites had come to the border of the wilderness with the Promised Land. The Lord said to Moses, ‘Send some men to explore the land of Canaan which I am giving to the Israelites. From each tribe send one of its leaders.’ At the end of the forty days the leaders returned with their reports. They all agreed the land was flowing with milk and honey, but the majority of them spoke fearsomely of giants. But those two great men of faith, Caleb and Joshua, had their eyes fixed firmly on their goals. They both went on to say, ‘The land we passed through was exceedingly good, if the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into the land.’ They went on to warn the people about rebelling against God. Caleb and Joshua admitted the existence of giants but they believed God, while the majority of the people measured the giants against their own strength. Caleb and Joshua had a great and might God and little giants and they kept their eyes on the goal and knew they could be victorious by the power of the Lord. The rest took their eyes off the Lord and started to look at the problems.
Today what are our eyes fixed on? If our goal is anything less than Jesus Christ and his glory then we are among the faithless who see the problems of life but have a small God. God doesn’t want us to say, ‘I know God is great but there are problems.’ God wants us to say, ‘There are problems but my God is all-sufficient.’
Let’s fast forward 40 years and we come to Joshua chapter 14 the tribes gather around their leader Joshua to receive their inheritance. The tribe of Judah step forward first and their leader Caleb, who always kept his eyes on the Lord God, reminded Joshua what the Lord God had said to them both just over 40 years previously. He went on to say of how he was sent out with his brothers to explore the land and because he gave a report according to his convictions Moses said to him, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance.’ If Caleb’s ultimate goal was God himself, his immediate goal was Hebron, Hebron the mountain stronghold that caught his eye when he first went into the land 45 years ago. Caleb said to Joshua, ‘Give me this mountain.’ Some of the onlookers might have said, ‘Caleb you are now 85 years old and Arba, the greatest man among the Anakites, lives up there. Take some easier possession.’ But Caleb did not take his eyes off the goal. Caleb, we read, went on to drive out the inhabitants. In fact in Joshua chapter 15 we see that of all the tribes who received an inheritance in the land, Caleb was the only one who succeeded in expelling the enemy. Caleb always had faith in God and never took his eyes of the Lord God. The lesson for us is that it is impossible for us to live life to the full without faith because without faith it is impossible to please God. We do not know what trials may come to us in our lives or what great responsibility the Lord may thrust upon us, but whatever may come let us keep our eyes on Jesus Christ for He is the author and finisher of our faith.
Though you have not seen Him you love Him and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8.