The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), March 2  

UnknownTwelve spies report back to Israel regarding their 40 day excursion into Canaan. All twelve spies see the same thing:

The land flows with milk and honey.

The people who live there are powerful.

The cities are fortified and very large.

After the spies conclude their report, Caleb declares in a burst of faith, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). Caleb looks the challenging situation right in the eye and embraces it.

Ten of the spies respond to Caleb’s declaration of faith:

  • “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we” (31).
  • “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature” (32).
  • “We were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (33).

The ten spies look the same challenging situation in the eye and cower in fear. All of the spies see the same thing, but Caleb responds in faith while the other ten respond in unbelief. How can that be? Two important truths about unbelief surface in this story:

Unbelief embellishes the challenge of what it sees in order to avoid taking a risk. Suddenly all the people are of “great stature,” and the land “devours its inhabitants.”

Unbelief assumes others view the situation similarly, “We were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” Unbelief always leads to bold rebellion as it transfers its insecurity and uncertainty onto others.

Faith sees both the good—“It truly flows with milk and honey”—and the bad—the people who dwell in the land are strong” (27-28). But faith doesn’t allow the bad to outweigh the good and the promises of God. Faith always leads to bold action.

Two truths about challenging situations emerge from this story:

  • A situation without challenge is one that doesn’t require faith. Most people prefer to remain in the desert of life rather than face the giants of the land. Fear constricts the heart of the one who embellishes what he sees.
  • Challenging situations always require bold faith. Few people give up the little that they have in the desert to face the giants in the land. Faith releases a man’s dependence on seen things and allows him to experience all that God has for him.
  • Faith doesn’t discount or embellish the things that are seen; rather, faith is the filter that translates all it sees through a lofty view of God. As someone has said, “When your God is big, your problems are small.”
  • Both faith and unbelief are contagious. Most people, however, default to unbelief. Only those who entertain a big view of God face challenging situations in faith. Sadly, Israel’s majority defaulted to unbelief.

Questions from today’s reading (Numbers 11:1-13:24):

What impact does the mixed multitude have in Israel’s midst? What does this reveal about faith and unbelief?

What does the LORD reveal about Himself to Israel through His provision of quail?

What does Miriam and Aaron’s complaint against Moses reveal about their view of Moses and leadership?

What does the LORD reveal about Himself to Moses’ siblings?

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