Entering Our God-Given Destiny

Bible Study with Jairus – Numbers 34

Have you ever thought that God’s rules and boundaries were limiting you? We may think that God’s borders are hemming us in. But in reality, the boundary lines God gives us are far greater than the boundary lines we have already reached. May God give us the courage, faith, and hope to reach the full measure of what he has in store for us. May we pray like Jabez – “May God enlarge our borders.” God will grant what we ask.


Spiritual Stagnation

Numbers 34 contains two key stories. In the first story, the Lord told Moses about the boundaries of Israel. In the second story, the Lord told Moses the list of leaders of the nine and a half tribes participating in the division of the land.

When you compare the map of the land that God promised to the Israelites with the land they actually occupied, you will find a surprising contradiction. God promised the Israelites land in the northeast, rather than the land on the east side of the Jordon occupied by Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh occupied land in the southeast after the Israelites defeated the Amorites and Ammonites. After seeing the land’s beauty, they did not enter Canaan, the land promised by God. They wanted to stay on the other side of the Jordon and pasture their large herds and flocks.

How did God feel about this choice? In the Scripture, God neither praised nor blamed them. He just kept silent. Moses was initially angry about this choice, but later accepted it. God promised  the land of Canaan, not this land. Although Moses tacitly consented to this plan, it was not ultimately God’s will.

I believe these two and a half tribes missed out on God’s blessings. When they chose to stay in the land on the east side of the Jordon, they showed they were satisfied with the victory God had already given. They chose to stagnate in the achievement they’d already made. In Numbers 32, they asked Moses to give them “the land that the Lord struck down before the congregation of Israel.” (ESV Numbers 32:4)[1]. They admitted that the Lord had helped them acquire the land and achieve victory in battles. But they were unwilling to continue to risk or to enter the Promised Land. They underestimated God’s promise.

Aren’t many Christians today the same? They are satisfied with the measure of spiritual success they’ve already attained. They know that they believed in the Lord and will go to heaven. That’s good enough for them. With this mindset, you will miss out on so many beautiful things worth learning, exploring, and working hard on. You miss out on many spiritual battles God wants you to win. Don’t stagnate where you are! Move forward into the fullness of God’s plans for you!

Entering God’s Destiny

The Israelites never reached their full potential. They never occupied the full extent of the land that God had promised them. Even during the time of David and Solomon, Israel never expanded fully into the boundaries God had promised. These boundaries – borders – represent the measure of destiny and blessing given to us by God. Many people are concerned about not going beyond the boundaries God has set for them. True, God sets limits in our lives to keep us safe. But for most people, the problem is not that we go too far. For most of it, we fail to expand into the full measure of God’s expectations and promises for us.

God has given us each a measure of grace. Paul specifically said “Don’t boast beyond your measure.” (2 Corinthians 10:13). But many times, people use this verse as an excuse to think small. Rather than pursuing God’s calling and gifts, they confine themselves to a small measure God never intended for them. Only after arriving in heaven will people discover just how big were the blessings God had in store for them in this life, and just how few of them they have achieved.  I often pray that when I stand before God, my Heavenly Father will praise me with the words: “YOU OUTDID YOURSELF.” I want to live out God’s destiny and calling for me, even “going beyond” my own measure. This is my prayer.

God had assigned boundaries to each of the twelve tribes through drawing lots. Drawing lots may seem like pure chance, but it represented God’s decision. He drew boundary lines according to the characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of the tribes. Nevertheless, God still gave the tribes a certain amount of freedom. For example, Caleb could choose to conquer the lands occupied by the toughest enemies.

God has given us grand and glorious promises! He wants us to understand the full extent of his blessings. Paul prayed that believers would have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). We need God to open our hearts and eyes so we can truly grasp the greatness of the rich and glorious inheritance He has prepared for us! In the Old Testament, God gave the land of Canaan as an inheritance. In the New Testament, God has given believers the inheritance of riches in Christ and spiritual blessings in the heavenly realm! (Ephesians 1:3).

God Knows us Personally.

Did you get bogged down by reading all the geographical names and details of Israel, as well as the names of the tribal chiefs? These are not just useless facts. They show that God is intimately acquainted with each one of us. God is not distant, far away, and difficult to please. Instead, Jesus says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10). We have personal access to his throne room.

Even if you feel far from God, your Heavenly Father is conversing with your guardian angels, asking how you are doing today, where you are going, and what kind of comforting and encouraging words you may need today. Our Heavenly Father frequently discusses these things with our guardian angels. David said that God’s thoughts towards us are more numerous than the sand of the sea (Psalm 139:17-18).

Malachi 3:16 shows us that God thinks about us. “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.” Not only are believers’ names written in the Book of Life, but our experiences and achievements are also recorded. For example, David wrote in Psalm 56:8, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Our tears and our sufferings are all recorded in God’s book.

In addition, Revelation 20:12 records, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” God will judge each of us according to what we have done.

The Spiritual Significance of Your Name


God knows us. Paul said, “If anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:3). God also knew each tribal leader personally, by name, and each of their names has a meaning. “Caleb” of the Tribe of Judah means “loyal dog,” which is often extended to mean, “servant of God.”

As we discuss the names of the other tribal leaders, I will quote my translation of a passage from the “Comprehensive Interpretation of the Bible” website:

“The names are listed in order of the tribes, from south to north according to the land allocated to each tribe (Joshua 14-19). Except for “Caleb” (verse 19), the names of the other nine leaders are completely different from those of the leaders 38 years before (Numbers 1:5-15). Even their fathers are not the previous leaders. God recorded the names of these people and used their names to clearly demonstrate the faith of the new generation before Him: “Shemu-El” or “ Samuel” means “God’s name”; “El-Idad” means “My God has loved”; “Bukki” is the abbreviation of “Bukki-Ah” (1 Chronicles 25:4), which means “The Lord has proven” or ” “The Lord has emptied”; “Hanni-El” means “favored of God”; “Kemu-El” means “raised by God”; “El-Izaphan” means “My God has protected”; “Palti-El” means “God’s deliverance”; “Ahihud” means “Brother of Praise”; “Pedah-El” means “redeemed by God”.


“Among these ten leaders, Caleb was already 80 years old (Joshua 14:10). There are seven people with “El” in their names, indicating that these leaders may have been born before the Exodus. They were about 40-60 years old at this time. Only “Bukki” is possibly derived from the name “Jehovah”, indicating that he was probably born after God revealed his name “Jehovah” to Moses (Exodus 3:15). He was likely less than 40 years old.” [2]

This quote explanation specifically notes the names of the leaders mentioned by God. Except for Caleb, this is an entirely new generation of leaders. Even their fathers have never been mentioned before. These are not the same tribal leaders recorded in Numbers 1. They are leaders of a new generation, raised up by God.

What an encouragement! Can you imagine a tribal leader claiming these promises for himself?  “Our ancestors failed and were unable to defeat the enemy. Our ancestors’ failure to enter the Promised Land does not necessarily mean that we, the next generation, will be unable to do so. They lost the spiritual battle, but that does not mean that we will also lose! God has raised up new leaders to lead the Israelites into spiritual battle! As the younger generation, we must rise up for battle, defeat the enemy, enter the Promised Land, and fulfill the spiritual destiny He has given us!”

Can you see the parallel to modern-day America? We face many enemies all around us, like the Israelites of old. The previous generation left these enemies undefeated and unconquered. Now, they are coming to control us! But this does not mean that we will be unable to conquer the enemy. We may feel suppressed, but this is not necessarily God’s will for us.

Many Old Testament Israelite kings chose to follow God, even though their fathers did not worship Him. And God helped them defeat their enemies. The younger generation in the United States must do the same. We must believe that God will help us, and that no one can stop us. We must rise up for battle and defeat the enemy. God will certainly help us. May the younger generation of the United States rise up as leaders and defeat the enemies that their parents’ generation was unable to defeat!

God is our Loving Father

God often treats us like a parent would treat a child. He has blessings in store for us and expectations for us to complete. But he will not force us to comply with them or take the steps he wants us to take. If we choose to ask for God’s help to defeat the enemy, trying our best to enter into God’s destiny for us through faith and hard work, God will help us. But if we give up, saying we don’t care, God will not rescue us from our own mistakes. The Bible tells us that God is good (Luke 18:19), while the enemy only wants to steal, destroy and kill (John 10:10). We must engage in spiritual warfare and not give up so easily. We must fight for our God-given blessings and ministries.

In the genealogy of Judah in 1 Chronicles 4, the author makes special mention of Jabez. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 says, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!’ And God granted what he asked.” The name Jabez in Hebrew means “sorrow.” His mother had a hard birth, so she named her son Jabez. There must have been many difficult experiences in Jabez’s life. But he called on God, asking Him to enlarge his borders. He asked for God’s presence to be with him and keep him from harm. And God answered his prayer.

May God enlighten the eyes of our hearts, as Paul said in Ephesians, so that we can see just how great is the inheritance God has given us. May we enter into the full destiny that God intends for us. May we pray like Jabez, “Enlarge my borders!” God will surely answer our prayers!

[1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

[2] The Original is Chinese and the translation is mine.