It comes as a surprise to some young people today to learn that James Bond (“007”) was not the world’s first secret agent. In fact, countries and cultures for thousands of years have benefited from the work of super-sleuths. Even God has had spies and secret agents!
In Numbers 13 we have the story of God’s first team of secret agents—an even dozen of them. Each of the 12 tribes contributed one man to the spy-party whose mission was to leave Kadesh and go into the Promised Land of Canaan. The nation of former slaves had been shuffling through the desert for weeks, and it was now time to enter their new homeland—but they had no idea what to expect. So Moses commissioned them to “see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not” (verses 18-20).
The spies did their job—they brought back the facts about the land, but with different interpretations. Ten of the spies said the people of Canaan were too strong to conquer. The other two, Joshua and Caleb, said, “Yes, the people are strong, but God is stronger.” Israel listened to the 10 and refused to go up to Canaan. They were sentenced to spend 40 years in the wilderness dying off until their children could grow up and take the land.
Which brings us to God’s second team of secret agents: When the new generation was poised to march into the land, Joshua sent two spies to gather information about Jericho, the first stronghold they would encounter. They discovered that God had already put “the fear of God” into the people’s hearts: “Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us” (Joshua 2:24). That information was 100 percent correct—Jericho fell without the use of sword or arrow.
Why, one might ask, does God use spies and secret agents to accomplish His plans? Because we are in a battle. It’s kingdom against kingdom as Paul says in Colossians 1:13—the kingdom of darkness (Satan’s kingdom) versus the kingdom of light (God’s kingdom). Paul also wrote that we’re fighting a spiritual war, not a physical one (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Ephesians 6:10-18). As a parallel, think of the Cold War that was waged between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union following World War II until the collapse of that Communist system. No shots were fired, but secret agents from both countries infiltrated the other to collect information that would result in a perceived or real advantage.
The battle we fight is a non-military spiritual battle. And God has called every Christian to be a secret agent—to infiltrate the domain of the enemy and thwart Satan’s plans by rescuing those who may otherwise perish. Just as the two spies who were sent to Jericho rescued their Canaanite accomplice, Rahab, and her family when the city was attacked, so God expects us to “go into all the world” for His sake and rescue all we can. We are agents of “God’s government,” serving His cause—especially as it relates to the future of planet earth.
The Call and the Mission
If you don’t remember the TV series, you would no doubt recognize the theme music for the television show Mission: Impossible. Popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the hit show followed the exploits of a team of American government secret agents: the IMF (Impossible Missions Force). At the beginning of every episode, the team’s leader would receive a mysterious recording explaining a crisis situation that had developed. And there would always be this challenge: “Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is . . . .” Of course, the IMF team always accepted the mission—and accomplished it.
God is saying the same to us: “I have sent my Son to earth on a mission to destroy the work of Satan (1 John 3:8). He has chosen you to be His agents throughout the earth. You have been given all you need to fulfill this mission, but I must warn you—it is dangerous. Some have died, many have suffered, and all have been tested. But for those who accept this mission and fulfill it, there is great reward. I ask you now: Will you become an agent of the Lord Jesus Christ and commit your life to the greater good of bringing many into the kingdom of God?”
The message of the mission is always the same (Matthew 28:18-20), but the strategy changes and the stakes grow higher each day as the return of Jesus Christ draws near. Just as the lead agent on Mission: Impossible was given a dossier of information to use in accomplishing his specific mission, so have we. In light of the day and time in which we live, our dossier is this: the prophetic portions of Scripture outlining the future of planet earth. Have you studied this packet of material? Are you clear about what the future holds, prophetically speaking? Can you sketch an overview timeline of God’s prophetic timetable to share with a friend who doesn’t know Christ—who knows nothing about biblical prophecy and how specific it is?
In today’s world, most people are insecure, even fearful, about the future. Wars, food and water scarcity, economic inflation, the prices of gas (and everything else) increasing, natural disasters—it is not a time to sit at ease under one’s vine or fig tree and enjoy the fruits of the land (Micah 4:4). That day is coming—but it is not now.
Only those who know the future and what it holds can live at peace in the midst of a world going mad. And the only way to know the future is to know God and His Word. Every Christian should be an “in-secret” agent-in-training, studying the prophetic portions of Scripture along with the Gospel. How will you “release those who through fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15) live paralyzed lives without yourself knowing what the future holds?
Will you accept the mission and become God’s prophetic agent in these tumultuous times? The lives of many may depend on your answer.