Faithless: Numbers 14

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Today’s reading: Numbers 14-15.

Twelve men make a secret exploration of the Promised Land, and return with glowing reports of its fruitfulness. At the same time, ten of the twelve are convinced that they cannot invade the land because of the strength and fortifications of its people. Only Joshua and Caleb press the case for entering Canaan. They are soon shouted down, and threatened with death, by the fearful and faithless Israelites.

The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?” Numbers 14:11

As a result of their faithlessness, God condemns all the adult Israelites except Joshua and Caleb to wander in the desert until they die. Their faithless wandering is a major theme of the book. It will take 38 years until their generation is gone, and only then will their children be ready to claim the promised inheritance.

Look at the reasons for the Israelites lack of faith:

  • they focused on the visible (appearance of their adversaries) rather than the spiritual
  • they listened to tradition (stories of Anak and the Nephilim) rather than God’s word
  • they gave more weight to their own (lack of) power rather than God’s power
  • they gave in to what others said rather than thinking for themselves
  • they magnified their fears and diminished God’s promise

Joshua and Caleb provided the counterpoint:

  • they knew that obedience and faith are necessary to please God
  • they saw the spiritual reality that God had disarmed their enemies
  • they had no fear since the LORD was with them

We all face giants, whether real or imagined. When in their country we must not fix our eyes on the giants but on the LORD who towers over all, and who has promised, “fear not, I am with you wherever you go.”

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

True faith bids eternal truth to become present reality. Manley Beasley

Faith is acting as if it is so, when it isn’t so, in order for it to be so, because God says it is so. Manley Beasley

Image by Robert Körner on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0.

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