Sometimes when I read the OT I find myself wondering how people could act like that and how could they make the decisions they do? I mean I never would. Or would I?
The chapters in this section of Numbers are like a tug of war of emotions with truth and fiction warring against one another as the people repeatedly rebel and Moses and Aaron repeatedly advocate for the people and negotiate with God over their outcome. The two words that kept coming to me as I read through their trial and tribulations were “Faith and Fear.” There is one aspect of this story in this section of Numbers that really captures my attention.
Just look at this section in Numbers where Moses had been leading the Israelites. The Lord told him to send out men to explore Canaan. He sent one leader from each of the twelve tribes to do just that. He gave them very detailed instructions on what to look for. The men returned and gave the report on what they had seen. The report was a mixed bag with descriptions that ranged from a land flowing with milk and honey to scary looking giants and towns that were impossibly fortified.
Caleb excitedly interrupts their report and is filled with faith to marshal the people forward to conquer the land! He challenges the people to do just that. The Tribe leaders on the other hand, the ones who actually saw the land first-hand, were filled with fear. They let their imaginations run wild and painted all kinds of horrible pictures of what could happen to them if they were to try to go and conquer the land. They struck fear in their hearts as they described how their families would be devoured and that they would be helpless against such giants. Their fear was like a disease and it spread like wildfire amongst the people and soon the people were weeping. Just imagine how you might feel to see your loved ones and neighbors distraught and worried beyond belief! It would be hard to stand up against such a crowd and not join forces with them. Their emotions had gotten the best of them and the next thing you know they were protesting against Moses and Aaron, two Godly men that had loved them and led them through so much. Next thing you know they are railing against God, basically blaming Him for their predicament. How could God possibly do this to them? They got so worked up that they began to think it would even be better to return to Egypt. Outrageous! I thought. They would go back to a time where they were enslaved rather than stay in a place of deliverance and a future with hope? Not a good scene! How could this situation get any worse? Was there any way for it to turn around? – read on in Numbers to find out.
But for now I want to pause with you here for a moment to dig a little deeper into what caught my attention. Why we are not so different than the people of the Old Testament when it comes to our reactions to life’s circumstances.
If I am honest, when I think about it, I have to admit that both faith and fear permeate my Christian life. I would like to think that I am filled with faith like Caleb was. That I am ready to conquer any and all situations with courage and determination, but the truth is that I have varying degrees of faith and varying degrees of fear that come into play in my daily life. Over the years, with some practice and a lot of help, I have most certainly discovered that there are things that help me lean more strongly into a life of faith over a life of fear: Actions, that if I practice, help me to increase the “Faith Meter” in my life.
1) The promises of God – Psalm 119:105 (In addition to the reading of God’s Word, if He has given me a specific Word or Words, these are also great reminders to help me in trailblazing a life of faith)
2) Christian Friends – Community of Faith - Proverbs 15:22 (wisdom is found in many Godly Counselors, the Israelites chose to listen to trouble-makers, those who were stirring up trouble and living in fear. We have a choice in the kind of friends that we seek advice and counsel from)
3) Prayer – Jeremiah 33:3 (Turning to God, not away from Him as the Israelites did when they were blaming God for their present circumstances)
4) Reviewing the many ways He has delivered me in the past - Lamentations 3:22-23, Reviewing His mercies ( The Israelites let their fear blot out the amazing miracles, signs and wonders that they had experienced and had lived through)
So next time you are faced with a decision or a difficult life circumstance, consider how you might increase your “Faith Meter.”