God’s Strength, Not Ours
The Lord once said to Abraham that He would make a great people (the nation of Israel), send them into a great land (Canaan), and provide great blessings through them (see Gen. 12:1-3). Centuries later, the Lord was now ready to move this people into the land, but obstacles arose, tempting Israel to look at their own strength instead of God’s (see Num. 13:1-2,26-33).
Ordinary men weren’t sent into the land to spy it out. Instead, God wanted leaders from each tribe to do the reconnaissance work. They would see what God was going to deliver and report back to the people. Then, acting on faith, the people could go forward to claim what God had promised.
The early part of the spies’ report could be summarized like this: “It’s better than you can possibly imagine!” The natural resources of the land were like nothing they’d seen before. Having lived all of their lives in Egyptian slavery with a brief stint in the wilderness, such abundance was surely overwhelming. But as is often the case in the Old Testament, the Israelites faltered in their faith. Right on the heels of describing the land as everything they could hope for, the spies also described why it was impossible to possess.
Words like large, strong, and fortified were at the top of the spies’ minds. When their faith faltered, they saw an unconquerable force before them. They took their eyes off the promise and put it on their enemies.
The spies had seen what they would have if the promise were fulfilled, but fear of the enemy caused them to lose faith. They had let go of their identity as the people of God. They were the people of promise, saved by the one true God, and commissioned to take the land God had for them. Instead, they looked at some really large soldiers and made a poor assessment of themselves, as if God were absent—“To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers” (v. 33).
“Like grasshoppers” is how they described themselves, but it wasn’t how the Lord would describe them. To God, the people were His children delivered from slavery and ready to take hold of the land of promise. This shows us that the failure of faith is both losing faith in God’s power and losing a sense of yourself as a child in God’s story of redemption.
Only through faith in God and His work do we gain a true understanding of the world and ourselves. Because of Christ’s redemptive work on our behalf, our identity has changed. We’re no longer an enemy, an outsider, a rebel, or lost in darkness. Instead, we’re considered a member of God’s family, an ambassador for Christ, and a child of light.
In the face of danger only Caleb and Joshua stood ready to forge ahead, but they were outnumbered by spies who believed the fortified cities were too great even for God to overcome.
When do you find it easiest for your feelings and fears to overwhelm your faith?
Excerpted from Philip Nation and Robert Smith, The Gospel Project: God the Savior © 2015 Lifeway Press®. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.
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