Numbers 13-14 Fear versus Faith

Since the Exodus from Egypt the people have been sinning, grumbling and have been terrible people to lead for Moses.  God has now brought them to the point where they are ready to enter the promise land but we will see that their lack of faith caused them to miss God’s will for their lives.

When you talk about Faith you have to remember that our faith is not just some hopeful dream or magic wand we use to get our way. Many talk about faith as if it makes God act a certain way if we have it. Some say God cannot move if you do not have faith but that cannot be further from the truth and that is degrading to God who is all-powerful and all- knowing. There has been a lot lies taught in churches when it comes to faith and we have to be careful when teachers take scripture out of context in order to make the Bible say what they want it to say.

Our faith is in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross to save us from being seperated from God. When circumstances are not going the way I want them to go, I have faith that God still loves me and has a plan for everything taking place. (Romans 8:28) If you go to Hebrews 11 and read what is known as the “Faith Hall of Fame” you will see not everyone got the answer they were hoping for but God said they had great faith.

Faith is trusting in what God has said and doing what God wants us to do even when it does not make sense to us. As we will see today the children of Israel relied on their senses instead of taking God at His word to carry out the plan God had for their lives.

Read Numbers 13:1-3; 17-24

1)   Faith needs to be stronger than sight

After God brought them out of Egypt and provided for them through the wilderness, He now brings them to the edge of the promise Land. Our passage of scripture tells us that God tells them to go and scout out the land but when we look in the book of Deuteronomy we see that the people want to go and check out the land before they conquer it. (Deuteronomy is a telling of the story again. )

Deuteronomy 1:21-22 See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’22 Then all of you came near me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, that they may explore the land for us and bring us word again of the way by which we must go up and the cities into which we shall come.

God allowed them to go and spy out the land but it was to strengthen their faith and not weaken it. God will allow you to do certain things your way but it is not to distract you from His overall plan for your life. There are many situations in life where the details do not matter as much as the overall will of God. So as long as it does not go against the written word of God, it is not illegal or unethical then carrying out Gods will is what is most important.

Moses knew God wanted them to take the Land and it was a good strategy to go and see what could be done but the plan back fired. Sometimes instead of trusting God we look at the circumstances instead of the promises. God knew what was in the Land and God had already looked it over and told them to go and take possession of it. God was not worried about anything they would face because He already promised them He would be with them and go before them.

They divided themselves into groups to scout out the land and they brought back a stalk of grapes they cut down that were the size of plums. You can imagine as two men carried this large grape cluster in front of the people how excited they must have been to go ahead and enter the land.

Ten of the spies saw the people of the land and they lost their faith while two of the spies saw the people of the land and knew God would bring them through.

Never let what is seen be bigger than your God.

Read Numbers 13:25-33

2)   Faith needs to be stronger than sound

Have you ever been scared by something you heard? Maybe it was just a sound in the middle of the night or a loud bang during the day. But some sounds scare us more than even those things. A bad doctor report or not having a job can shake our faith. For the children of Israel it was the report brought back by the ten unfaithful spies.

Some of the men came back and started spreading that this was too big of a task to handle. When you have and assignment from God you will always get others who will give you the negative report or all the reasons it is not possible. Discouragement is a powerful tool that can hinder you from moving forward with Gods plan for your life.

There is nothing wrong with seeing the obstacles that are in front of you and there is nothing wrong with talking about the obstacles that you have to overcome, but if you are not doing what God has called you to do because of those obstacles then you are being disobedient.

To many people who mis-represent what faith means, say that you are not allowed to say a negative word or it takes away from your faith. They even go so far as to say that Job was negative and that is why so many bad things happened to him. To say Job was negative because he prayed for his childrens sins is a twisting of the word of God to fit your bad understanding of how God works. We can talk about the negative things in life and still have faith that God can overcome them. A report is just that, a report and has nothing to do with a lack of faith in your life. Many things will happen in this life that do not make sense and we have to remember that our lives are to be lived, just like Jesus did, for the Glory of God.

John 9:1-3 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

God may use a negative report in your life to show others Himself. When you walk through the most horrible of situations and people see that you are trusting God through it, than many people will come to know Him. We have to remember that the world is not our Promise Land. We are promised a home where there will be no more sickness and pain but more importantly where we will have a pure relationship with Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5)

These guys brought back a conflicting report because  they have the grapes that prove what God told them was there, but then they talk as though God did not know the rest of the story because of the people that were in the land.

“We seemed like Grasshoppers to them” A Land that devours it’s inhabitants.”  Really? Sounds more like a report from a group of 3rd grade boys than men who were trusted to go and see the land ahead of time.

When you lack faith then you make things worse than they really are. When you are scared you say things to make others believe that it is worse than it really is.

Nephilim were mighty men or warriors and are mentioned in Genesis 6:4. Whatever they were, and there are many views on this, they were giant men who also had a bad reputation for being immoral and they did not fear God.  Anak means neck because the people were tall and so the spies mention them to let them know once again how big of an obstacle they had if they were to conquer the land.

We see the first indication of the lack of faith from the ten spies because they start by saying,  “The Land in which you sent us” instead of the Land that God promised. When you forget the promises of God you will begin to loose faith in God.

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

It was a play on their well crafted words to sway the people from doing Gods will by not repeating the words of God.  One of the best things you can do when you lack faith is to go to God’s Word and remember all the promises He has given.

When fear begins to take over you forget the God who brought you through all the things in the past. Are these people they are going to face any stronger than the Egyptian army? No. Was what they were going to face any bigger than crossing the Red Sea? No. Was this any bigger of a task for God then saving their first born while all the first born in Egypt died? No. The whole Egyptian army was wiped out without them even lifting a sword and yet they were scared of what was in front of them.

The one thing you have to remember is only twelve men saw the lands and not all the people. They were scared because of the report and not because of what they had seen. Because of this report they had forgotten the promise of God.

Exodus 33:1-2  The Lord said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites (See also Leviticus 20:24)

The people did not have faith in God they had faith in what 10 of  the spies were saying. We can easily hurt someones faith simply because we do not believe. We have to be careful with the words we spread because by doing so we may cause others to loose their faith in God and when that happens they suffer consequences.

Read Numbers 14:1-4

3)   Faith needs to be stronger than the majority

I have not seen one time in  scripture when the majority made the right decision. We all have to be careful because we can all get caught up with the majority instead of praying and seeking the will of God. If churches had prayer meetings more than business meetings they would be more in tune to the will of God and would not allow things to scare them.

This is a slap to the face of God since we are  saying we do not trust you or believe in you. Not only do they not trust God but then the majority takes them from not trusting God to wishing God would have never brought them out of Egypt. They started looking for a leader who could take them back to Egypt as if the Egyptians would have welcomed back home. I guess they forgot when they left Egypt they were hated because the land looked like a war zone, people lost the oldest male in their family and they took all the possesions of the people of Egypt. I guess they forgot that the last time Egypt saw them they were trying to kill them and would have succeeded if God did not intervene.

I have witnessed churches using the majority rule destroy themselves because the thinking of the congregation became foolish. Poor thinking leads to more poor thinking and people will lead others into the same destructive path thinking they are wise. The children of Israel became foolish in their thinking and because of that they missed out on the Promise Land.

Read Numbers 14:5-10

The people became so loud in their complaining that Moses and Aaron could not be heard anymore so they just fell down on their face. In the book of Numbers when one falls on their face it is because Judgment is coming (16:4;22;45;and 20:6) This was a sign that they were humbling themselves before God seeking His wisdom and mercy over this situation. Caleb and Joshua,two good spies, ripped their clothes showing a sign that God’s judgment was coming because the people were in sin. (Judges 11:35)

Caleb and Joshua spoke and did not concern themselves with the difficulties only the promise of the Promise  Land. They tell them plainly to not fear the people because God is with us and using the same metaphor as the ten spies they say “they are bread to us”.  They wanted the people to know that it is not a big obstacle they have to face and can be easily accomplished. The majority allowed their fear to be so strong that they wanted to stone Caleb and Joshua.

Our society is based on fear of offending or against going against the culture norms. If you are going to stand for Christ today then you are going to have to not fear the people that oppose you. They will try and silence you but that must not detour you from speaking the truth.

The people made God their enemy by being afraid of their enemies.

In Numbers 14:13-20

4)   Faith needs to be bigger than the betrayal

These were men Moses entrusted to carry out a mission and they turned on him and turned the people against him. Moses pleads with God for Him not to wipe out the disobedient people even though they cost him from going into the Promise Land. We have all had people who have hurt us and caused our lives to be set on another course but that does not mean we should not forgive them and even plead to God on their behalf. I am not sure I would have prayed that way especially since for the next forty years Moses would be back in the wilderness because of the disobedience of others.  Moses has put up a lot with this group of people but one thing Moses understood was the grace of God on his own life which allowed him to show grace to others.

Sometimes our dreams get shattered because of our own mistakes and sometimes because of the actions of others. For 40 years Moses would have to lead them back into the wilderness to wander yet he prayed for them and for God to have mercy on them. Moses plea with God was for Gods Glory to not  be tarnished by the actions of His people. Moses did not care about Himself only that Gods name would go out throughout the earth and He was concerned how it would look to the rest of the world if God wiped out all the Israelites.

Read Numbers 14:21-25

5)   Not having Faith has consequences

Genesis 15:6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Of course the faith we demonstrate first and foremost is our faith in the work of Jesus Christ. We have faith that what He did on the cross for us is what makes us right with God and not by our own works.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

So to not have faith in what Jesus did for us has eternal consequences to us being able to enter into Heaven. We cannot get to God unless we believe in Jesus Christ. (John 14:6)

If you lack faith it can also cause you to miss out on Gods will for your life on earth.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

The Promise land which was promised to Abrahams descendants would not be seen by those who rebelled against God because they did not walk by faith in the direction God told them to go.  Because of their lack of Faith they missed out on Gods blessings. When we allow fear to overcome us we also miss out on the blessings of God because we become anxious about things instead of trusting Him.

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

God  answered their prayer in Numbers 14:2 when they said it would have been better to have died in the wilderness. God allowed them to determine their own doom. God will allow you to go your own way but just because He allows you to go does not mean it is His will.  They were punished 40 years in the desert a day for every year they spied out the land (14:34) The 10 spies who gave the bad report died instantly.

Read Numbers 14:39-42

The group of people who did not have courage before, the people that wanted to go back to Egypt, now wanted to go and fight. Moses warned them not to go because God was not with them but they went anyways and suffered defeat. This is a sober warning for all of us that think we can just put God off until later.

I am not talking about eternal salvation but missing out of the will of God should be our primary concern even over our own lives. God says that I have pardoned them but they will still suffer the consequences of their lack of faith. (14:20) Yes, you can be forgiven of your sin but that does not mean you do not suffer the consequences of it.

Are we putting God to a test when we refuse to listen to Him? Do we believe that we will not suffer any consequences for our actions if we delay what He told us to do? If you think that this is the Old Testament teaching  and does not apply to us today then you need to read 1 Corinthians 10. Paul uses this story to remind the churches in Corinth that they are not to abuse the grace of God.

You can disqualify yourself for Gods service by your lack of faith and you can miss out on what His will for your life is.  When we abuse the grace of God as His children there are consequences to our actions.

Closing

What has God told you to do and yet you have not done it yet?

What sins are you committing that you do not think will have any consequences?

God wants to use you to be a light to the rest of the world but your lack of faith and trust in Him will disqualify you from service.

“And that’s exactly what faith does. It enables those who believe to see the unseen. To know the “not yet”. To charge ahead in confident obedience no matter how outlandish, ludicrous, or counter-cultural it makes them appear. And God honors those who choose His “ridiculous” ways over the conventional ‘wisdom” of man. (As it was in the Days of Noah, Jeff Kinley, Pg. 33-34)

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