Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fear Magnified = No Go

“But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.” Numbers 14:24-25

God was preparing His people to enter the promise land. In preparation, the Lord asked Moses to send out twelve men to spy out the land of Canaan – a land that God promised to His children – a land that was flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 13:1). One of the twelve men sent out to spy the land was named Caleb.

When the twelve men went out to spy out the land, they saw that the land was truly flowing with milk and honey just as God had said. 

“When they reached the valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.” Numbers 13:25-27

The land was rich, fertile and bountiful and the Lord promised that it would be theirs - a place where they could build their homes and raise their families. However when the twelve men came back to give their account to Moses, this is what ten of the twelve men said in Numbers 13:27-28, “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is the fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.”  We even saw descendants of Anak there.” (The descendants of Anak were a race of abnormally large people.)

Ten of the twelve men came back with fear in their hearts as they reported back their observations of the land. However, two of the men named Caleb and Joshua, came back as they went, with the same trust and confidence in God that they left with.

As the ten men began expressing their fears to the community, this was how Caleb responded, “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Numbers 13:30)

“Caleb was not so much a man of great faith as a man of faith in a GREAT God! His boldness rested on his understanding of God, not on his confidence in Israel’s abilities to conquer the land. He could NOT agree with the majority, for that would be to disagree with God.” Commentary

Unfortunately, the ten men were effective in discouraging the entire community to trust their fears and not trust God. The fearful community wept, and conspired together in despair to select a new leader to take them back to Egypt where they were once in slavery. How tragic when our fears are magnified and our God is minimized!

In response to the community’s foolish decision, Moses, Aaron (Moses’ right hand man), Joshua and Caleb also wept but they wept for the sins of the people against the Lord.

“Isn’t it interesting that people, could see the exact same sights – the same grapes, the same strong men, the same land, the same cities – but one can come away singing in faith, and the other is filled with a sense of certain doom. Ultimately, faith or unbelief does not spring from circumstances or environment, but from our hearts.” Commentary

Are we singing in faith or we filled with a sense of certain doom?

Although none of the people who rejected God entered the land, God allowed their children to inherit the land forty years later!  God also made it a point to single out the faith of Caleb and Joshua.

 “Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb and Joshua.” Numbers 14:30

In fact, God also made it a point to distinguish Caleb as a man who had a “different spirit”.  Caleb followed God wholeheartedly and God noticed him and rewarded him and his descendants!

I found the following commentary very interesting:

“Their unbelieving response was a potent combination of truth, lies and exaggeration.

-       It was true from a human perspective that the people in the land were stronger than them – but to say, “we are not able to go up against the people” was a lie. (Numbers 13:31)

-       It was true that they had gone through the land – but to say, “a land that devours its inhabitants” was a lie. (Numbers 13:32)

-       Each of the statements, “all the men whom we saw in the land are men of great stature” or “the giants” and “we were like grasshoppers” were all terrible exaggerations, plain and simple lies. (Numbers 13:33)

Unbelief often presents itself as being “factual” or “practical” or “down to earth.” Yet the most factual, practical, and down to earth thing we can do is to trust the Word of the Living God. Their unbelief was not according to the facts, but despite the facts.” Commentary

I have noticed that at times when I am afraid, I turn my fears into exaggerated giants.

Let’s not magnify our fears but instead let’s be like Caleb and trust the Word of the Living God! In believing God's Word, let’s say what Caleb said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it!"

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