Written by Christopher Mentzer
When something is put to the vote; be it business or among friends, it is usually the majority rules. Even in politics the majority rules. But should it be that way in the world of religion? Should God’s people strive for the majority instead of a unanimous vote?
Send thou men…every one a ruler…
I think back to the book of Numbers when God told Moses to send men into Canaan to spy out the land (Numbers 13: 1-3). Moses chose the heads of each of the 12 tribes of Israel to see if the land was worthwhile and what kind of people dwelled there (Vs. 4-20).
Being heads of each tribe, and members of God’s people, you would think that once they spied out the land that they would be able to possess with little resistance. After all, they’d seen the power of God displayed by the ten plagues while in Egypt (Exodus 7-13).
However, these people were expert complainers! After leaving Egypt (Ex. 14: 10-12), when they came to Marah (Ex. 15: 23-24), when they entered the wilderness of Sin (Ex. 16: 1-3), and others. They had relied so much on the Egyptians to feed and care for them that they didn’t know what it was like to rely upon themselves. Being used as slave labor did not seem to matter. They had food, water, and shelter they could depend upon. But they were being cared for by God andBut the big disappointment about the Israelites was that they were being cared for by God and they couldn’t see it.
40 Days later…
After the 12 men spied out the land, they returned 40 days later; bringing with them the fruit (Num. 13: 24) of the land. They approached Moses, Aaron, and the whole congregation to give their report (vs 26-29). At first, the report seemed positive as they stated that the land flowed with milk and honey (figure of speech). Then in verse 28 it begins with ‘Nevertheless’ (KJV) which is a fancy way of saying, ‘but’. The negative side of the report took up the rest of the time as they described the inhabitants as being the Children of Anak (also referred to as the ‘Nephilim’) and walled cities.
But Caleb, one of the 12 said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” (vs. 30). However, he was silenced by the others as a negative report was given to the people (vs. 31-33). Caleb could see things differently as he knew they had God on their side. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough because the people listened to the majority instead. They held Moses and Aaron responsible and decided to choose a new captain and return to Egypt (Num. 14: 1-4). Joshua and Caleb pleaded further saying if it was God’s Will, they would be able to inhabit the land (Vs. 6-9). And God stepped in and said in verse 11, “…How long will this people despise me? and how long will they not believe in me, for all the signs which I have wrought among them?” (ASV)
The Price of listening to the majority
In the end, God spared the people who murmured against Him but charged them to wander the wilderness for the next forty years until those who were against him died off. Leaving only Joshua, Caleb, and the offspring to enter into the promise land (Vs. 28-38).
Listening to the majority is not always the right thing to do. In the religious world today the majority is almost always followed . For example: The Sinner’s Prayer is enough for Salvation, The Pope is the ultimate authority of the church on Earth, believing the bible is God’s sole source of authority is optional, and others.
God should be our sole authority (Matt. 28: 18) and it can be found in the bible (2 Tim. 3: 16-17). We can learn from the two spies who gave a good report because they supported what God wanted in the first place.
If someone is in the minority of the group regarding how things should be done, instead of simply saying, “Sorry, majority rules,” ask them why they stand against the group. Then find a way to convince them to change their mind or allow yourselves to change to the ones who stood alone. The decisions should be according to what God needs not what Man wants.