Thursday, May 2, 2019
How many times a day do you use the word “but”? Probably many more than you realize. It is one of the most influential words in our vocabulary. It has the power to kindle a fire of fear while extinguishing the flames of faith. It is a word of transition from assurance to apprehension. It creates compromise rather than confirming covenant. It results in reconsideration rather than risk.
This one word spread negativity throughout the nation of Israel and impeded their progress when they should have positively accepted the invitation of God to invade.
Numbers 13:27-31 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.” Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”
Two times in the story the 10 spurious spies argue from fear rather than faith and convince the people of Israel to doubt God’s direction. To their credit, the spies did report that the blessings of the land were incredible. They brought back exceptional fruit. To their culpability, they were convinced that the personal risk was far too great for the material benefit. They had forgotten that the foundation of God’s promise to them was not material blessing but spiritual blessing. Their focus shifted from God’s covenant promise that they would be a blessing to all the other nations of the world to the personal benefits that they should receive for their obedience. They did what any of us would do when our focus shifts from God’s purpose to man’s perspective – they saw only man’s power and not God’s omnipotence, and they became afraid. From their human vantage point they saw insurmountable obstacles. From a vantage point of faith they could have seen opportunities for God’s intervention.
The fear that overcame them was so powerful that they began to assume facts not already in evidence. Look closely at Numbers 13:33 – “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
It was one thing for them to admit an insecurity about their own stature and status, but it was totally wrong of them to believe that they knew what the inhabitants of the land were thinking about them. In fact, if they were still thinking with a mind of faith, they would have remembered the promise of God when He said, “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”
God had already promised to make the very people of whom they were now afraid to be filled with fear of them and that He would drive them out.
This story has clear applications to our lives. We use “buts” to renegotiate God’s purpose for our lives. We use “buts” to validate our personal desires and ambitions. We use “buts” to reduce personal risk. We use “buts” to defend our fears. We use “buts” to justify our insecurities. We have shifted our focus from the spiritual to the material, and we have embellished the facts to defend our position.
It is possible that right now you are walking by the sight of man’s perspective rather than by faith in God’s promises. I pray that God will use these insights to challenge that area of your life today, and that you will become a Joshua or Caleb and proclaim with bold faith, “we can certainly do it!”