God will give us opportunities to act in faith.
When we choose our own way instead of God’s way, we are exposing our rebellion and distrust of God.
The story of the 12 spies is a fascinating account about the people of God living by faith, or in this case, not. It is also fascinating that God never actually instructed them to go spy the land, He told them to go take the land. Twelve men went to spy and they all agreed that the land was truly flowing with milk and honey, or, that it was a land full of vegetation and promise. But only two of the twelve believed the Word of the Lord that He would allow them to take it.
It seems the people of God then, are not a whole lot different than the people of God now. You know why? They allowed fear to control their lives.
I hope that you took the time to read this passage on your own. because there are a few points that I want to draw from it so we get a good understanding of what is happening. Then I want to hammer it home for us and see how we can apply it today.
— First of all, the people had an immediate action of rebellion and unbelief. Let’s not sugar coat it here. When God says, “do this” and then His people don’t do it, it is rebellion. Regardless of how frightening the circumstances might seem. Because of their rebellion, they suffered severe consequences. The generation, except for Joshua and Caleb (the two good spies), were from that moment on prohibited from entering the land. They were set on a path of wandering (our rebellion can lead us on a path of wandering in the wilderness too) for another 40 years, until they had all died! Their rebellion and unbelief costs them their lives! The same lives they were willing to give back into slavery instead of obeying God. This is serious stuff.
— The people heard the mixed report and they immediately went into a mindset that forgot about God completely. They instead, began to complain and murmur against God. When we continually think and act in a negative way toward what God is doing, we will develop within our hearts and our minds a distrust of Him and a belief that He does not know what is best.
— At the end of the passage, we see the Israelites “changing” their minds. They saw what happened to the 10 spies (God killed them with a plague), so they got up early one morning and went to the top of a ridge and said, “Ok, we are here, lets go ahead and do this.” They were not repenting, they were just sorry they got called out by God and they didn’t want to face the consequences. They were in rebellion before and they are still in rebellion, they just feel a little guilty now. They did not have trust, they just didn’t want to suffer. They are now going against what God has said again. The frightening thing here is that the window for obedience has been closed. What happened when they charged down the hill? They got destroyed, and they came running back. The most interesting part of the passage is that it tells us that the Ark (where God’s presence dwelt) and Moses were not with them. They moved forward without God, and they suffered the consequences for it.
— Moses intervened for the people and begged God to keep His promise. That is amazing to me. This is what people do when they pray for our church and families and nation. Are you praying?
A few application points for us all…
- Fear will rob you of God’s blessing
If you live by fear, you will not live for God. It is easy to allow the fear of what we see, what we hear, and what we experience to turn our eyes away from what God has said. If we decide to live by fear, we will miss out on the greatest blessings God has for us.
Many believers are living by fear right now. In the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of political and social turmoil, we must not allow fear to direct our lives. Regardless of what has happened, and regardless of what may come, God has still commanded us to action. And He has still promised us what He will do in our lives.
We cannot bow down to fear.
- Our bowing down to fear will show the world that we don’t believe God is capable
When we DO bow down to fear, we are basically showing those who see us (and people will see), that we ultimately do not believe that God is capable of delivering what He has promised.
So many believers that I talk to are allowing culture to define them, and they want to bow down to culture because they are afraid of what other people think and they are afraid of being labeled something that isn’t acceptable to culture. If you are a believer in Jesus, God has already defined you, you are not meant to be accepted by a godless culture anyway. So why fight so hard to be loved by it.
- Don’t miss your opportunity
Don’t miss the opportunity to live out your faith in a way that shows the world how awesome God is. There is a special phrase that God says in chapter 14:21, but indeed as surely as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.
Your life is meant to be a beacon for the Glory of God! If you live for yourself, you will miss the opportunity to show Him off, and allow Him to move through your life in such a way that men and women and children are drawn to Him, because His glory will be seen.
I often wonder about the people who left Egypt with the Israelites. When God performed His miracles Egypt, there were people who were not of the Hebrew people, some of them were even Egyptian, and they followed the Israelites because of what they saw of their God. They said, “we saw what your God did, He is the only God and we want to come with you and worship Him.” And now, the people of God, who are supposed to trusting Him have turned away from Him.
How many people come to a church because they have seen what God can do and they want to be around the people of God. But when they get to church they find the room empty because the people of God are too fearful to live out their faith.
- Learn true repentance
1 John 1:9 — “If we go on confessing our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us for our sins and He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is a daily discipline, a lifestyle of repentance is what is needed, not a “here and there let me pray real quick and try to cover everything I have done over the past month” repentance. You wont remember everything you did over the past month that offended God.
If we would learn to repent of our sin we might not have to cry over the consequences.
5) Don’t move forward without the presence of God
After they heard the consequences and they pretended to be sorry. They tried to move forward, but they left God behind. Don’t leave God out of your decisions. If you believe you should make a big move by faith, pray about it. Make sure that God is with you. If you leave Him behind, you will be going it alone.
We have developed the idea in the church today that we can do whatever we want and that God is obligated to follow us on a leash and throw blessings down on our actions.
That is NOT how God operates. We cause damage when we try and do things through His power, when we haven’t even tapped into it yet.