By David Faust
“With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), but the four words, “It can’t be done” have killed many dreams. Why try if you might not succeed? Shakespeare wrote, “Our doubts are traitors / And make us lose the good we oft might win / By fearing to attempt.”
Courage yields to cowardice when we tell ourselves, “It’s too hard. Why take the risk?” Naysayers fan the flames of fear by pointing out obstacles: “You can’t do that. You’ll look foolish when you fall short of your goal.”
God doesn’t call us to be foolish and irresponsible. We must do our homework. Dreams turn into nightmares when they are poorly conceived. Before undertaking a project we must calculate the risks and plan our way. But we always must leave room for faith.
The Loud Voice of Unbelief
God told Moses to select 12 spies—one from each tribe of Israel—to explore the land of Canaan. They investigated the fertility of the land and studied how the towns were fortified. After 40 days the spies returned with an impressive load of grapes, pomegranates, and figs that demonstrated the region’s fruitfulness—a mouthwatering sight for people who had been wandering in a barren wilderness. “The land . . . does flow with milk and honey,” the spies reported (Numbers 13:1-27).
However, the majority report focused on the downside. Ten of the spies warned, “The people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large” (v. 28). “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are” (v. 31). “All the people there are of great size. . . . We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes” (vv. 32, 33).
Lack of faith distorted their view of God, and it distorted the way they viewed their own potential. They saw themselves as little more than insects—“grasshoppers in our own eyes.” As if looking through the wrong end of a telescope, they felt very small. Unbelief diminishes people.
And unbelief is infectious. After hearing the 10 spies’ negativity, “all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron” (14:1, 2). The rebellion spread until soon “the whole assembly talked about stoning them” (v. 10).
The Bold Voice of Faith
Ironically this Bible account begins with the Lord telling Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites” (13:1, 2). God told them right up front that he was going to give the land to his people. Successful acquisition of the land relied on the Savior, not on the soldiers. Why had the people so quickly forgotten the miracles God performed back in Egypt?
Two of the spies brought a positive minority report. Caleb and Joshua acknowledged the hard realities ahead, but they insisted, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (13:30). “If the Lord is pleased with us,” they reasoned, “he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us” (14:8).
When the facts are in and it’s clear God wants something done, we have a decision to make. Will we only see the perils in the path, or will we move forward with the Almighty who makes us more than conquerors? Will we stand with the faithful minority who trust God or with the grumblers who only see giants in the land?
1. Would you have accepted the 10 spies’ negative report, or would you have stood with Caleb and Joshua?
2. What circumstances currently test your faith in God?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for March 8, 2015
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Numbers 5, 6
Numbers 7, 8