By William R. Cunningham
Base Scripture: Exodus 3:7-8, Numbers 13:1-2, 17-33, 14:1-4.
In this lesson we are going to look at the various perspectives that can exist for the same object by different people. Two people can encounter the same situation and yet have different perspectives. For example, one person may see the situation as a challenge whereas the other may view the same situation as a serious problem. We will examine an example of this very same thing in the scriptures (see the base scriptures above). We are going to narrow the scope of our discussion to those things that God has made available to us in his word and how we view situations that seem to contradict what God has said to us. This eliminates the discussion on positive thinking, though it is not of use sometimes. The premise of our lesson is that if God has made it available to us and has given it to us (whatever "it" is) then we have it and should not allow anything to get in the way of receiving it. If God said it then it is so and we should not allow doubt and fear keep us from acquiring what God has given us.
In this lesson we are going to examine the incidence where two groups of people gave different and conflicting reports about possessing what God had already promised. One group of people was ready to posses what God promised whereas the other group allowed fear to not only affect their perspective of the situation but they also polluted the perspective of others. Our focus is on the promise of God to give the Hebrew people the Promised Land as stated in the scriptures below. This promise should have been the basis of the perspective of anything having to do with that land. However, such was not the case with every person.
Before we can allow something to get in the way of achieving what God has made available or promised, we must know what he has made available or promised. Our stance of faith must be founded on the word of God. God had promised the Hebrew people that he would give them land, what we know as the Promised Land. Consider the following scriptures.
Exodus 3:7 through Exodus 3:8 (KJV) And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Exodus 3:17 (KJV) 17And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
Below is a map showing the boundaries of the Promised Land. See Numbers 34:3-12 for a description of the boundaries.
The important thing to see here is that God promised the Hebrew people the land of Canaan. The only thing left for them to do was to do whatever God told them to do in order to possess the land. For all practical purposes we can say, as well as the Hebrew people at this time, that the Promised Land was as good as theirs.
Evaluate the situation
See Numbers 13:1-20.
Now God told Moses to send men to search the land of Canaan, the Promised Land.
Numbers 13:1 through Numbers 13:2 (KJV) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.
Why was it necessary for the people to search the land before entering into it? It appears that it was the idea of people to send spies (explorers) out to search the land. See Deuteronomy 1:22-29. Therefore, it seems that God met the people where they were at the time. Moses thought that it was a good idea to send the spies and God did not object to it, so the spies were sent.
See Numbers 13:21-25.
So the men explored the land of Canaan. They even brought back some of the fruit in the land. We must consider that the land in question was quite large and that the exploration took about forty days. The land was almost 300 miles at its longest points and 150 miles at its widest points. The point is that the area was quite large.
We apply the exploration of assessing the situation before us. This is the stage where we analyze the position that we are in so that we can take necessary action. Though God has promised us many things, we are still responsible for being active in acquiring them. Have you assessed the situation that you are in? Have you sat down to evaluate your present state of finances, education, or goals? Faith in God does not mean that we are to be inactive. It is a time of action even on our part.
See Numbers 13:26-33.
The men returned and gave their report of the exploration. Ten of the twelve gave a rather bad and discouraging report, whereas two gave a positive report. They both saw the same things yet they had different perspectives of what they saw. Consider the negative report.
Numbers 13:27 through Numbers 13:28 (KJV) And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
The statement that these ten men gave was something like "Yeah the land is great BUT." Why do you suppose that the people addressed in their report caused them so much grief and fear? Who were the descendents of Anak, Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, and Canaanites?
Now consider the positive report given by Caleb.
Numbers 13:30 (KJV) And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
Caleb (and Joshua) did not let the perceived negative facts allow them to be dissuaded from taking what God had given them.
Now consider the rebuttal to the positive report.
Numbers 13:31 through Numbers 13:33 (KJV) But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
Again the negative was bought up but this time to counter the good report
How can we apply this? How have you perceived the information that you acquired after analyzing or assessing your present situation? Are you ready to panic or take action? We should perceive things with the word of God as a major component of that perception. The task may be formidable but nothing is impossible or two hard for God. Furthermore, the Bible tells us that we have the ability to do all things in Christ (Philippians 4:13).
See Numbers 14:1-10.
Numbers 14:1 through Numbers 14:4 (KJV) And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
The people began to blame God and threaten Moses because they accepted the bad (evil) report. It appears that they reckoned themselves as being already defeated by the inhabitants of the Promised Land.
Are you murmuring against God because you have believed a negative report about your situation? Are you blaming God because the path that you took seems to be causing you more trouble then its worth? Are you complaining to God that your situation is his fault? Why have you decided to believe the bad report instead of the good report? Why did the Hebrew people nurture the report of the ten instead of accepting and being comforted by the report of the two?
Rebuttal to complaining
Moses tries to encourage the people by getting them to consider the fact that God was with them and that they would be able to take the land that He promised them. They didn't buy it. Moses also warns the congregation not to rebel against the LORD (Numbers 14:9).
Have you ever found yourself rebutting someone that is trying to encourage you with the promises of God? However, you insist on complaining and accepting the bad report that you have concluded or that someone has given to you about your situation.
Numbers 14:10 (KJV) But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.
Now the people were letting the negative report that they believed effect their behavior towards Moses and therefore God. Consider what their actions actually meant to God.
Numbers 14:11 (NIV) The LORD said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?
Again the people were treating the Lord with contempt or ignoring him. That is, they would not consider who he was and what he could do even in their situations. God did not seem to be an important or significant component in their lives.
Is this true for you as well? Have you decided to rebel against God be not believing what he told you? Have you decided to take things into your own hand and to attack those whom God used to reach you? Have you attacked those people that at one time or another told you that you were wrong according to the word of God? Did you listen and at least talk with these people or did you reject their words, which may have come from God by his word?
It is important that we listen to people because people are our greatest resources. Not everyone will come to you with truth. However, you won't know that unless you listen to them and if you know the Bible's teaching. Sometimes we may be so wanting to cling to sin that we attack all those who cause a revelation of that sin to hit us bulls eye in the face. We reject God's word in order to cling to what we want. We thus ignore God and treat him with contempt.
The Consequences of Disbelief
See Numbers 14:12-38.
The original consequence of the people's actions was God's wrath. God was going to wipe these folk out. Numbers 14:12 tell us that he was going to strike them with a plague and destroy them. However, he said that he would make Moses a nation that is greater and stronger than they are. However, Moses reasons with God why He shouldn't wipe the people out. God accepts his plea and forgives the people (Numbers 14:20). The consequence of the people's contempt for God was that they would not enter the Promised Land, except Joshua and Caleb who gave a good report. The ten men that gave the bad report were struck down by a plague and died. The people were sentenced to wander in the wilderness for forty years, one year for each day of the exploration.
Note that even though God forgave the people that they were still responsible for their actions. This may seem strange but if you consider the concept of forgiveness it would all make sense. See my study on "The Art of Forgiveness" for more information.
The people still disobeys God and ignores him by deciding to go and take the land anyway. However, the Canaanites and Amalekites defeated them.
How would you feel if your child decides to take the advice of someone else and steal money in order to pay for the bicycle that you promised your child for Christmas? Your child would have demonstrated contempt for you by believing someone else instead of depending on what you said. You do have reason to be upset unless you have already demonstrated to your child that your words are meaningless by not doing what you said you would do. However, God is faithful and will do what he said he would do.
God promised the people the Promised Land but when it was time for the rubber to meet the road, they simply did not trust him. How often do we throw our faith in God out of the window? There are consequences to everything that we do (good or bad). There are consequences for disobeying God, namely curses, and there are consequences for obeying God, namely blessings.
So when we discover what God has promised then we should stand on it and consider what he promised to be a done deal. Don't fall back on faith in God and believe what others tell you or what your situation seem to indicate. Your situation may shout that you are in a hopeless situation. However, God's word may shout that you are in good hands. Which report would you believe? To believe the bad report would be a "slap in God's face" if you will. To believe what God says would indicate a trust and faith in Him even though you may be shaking in your boots.
So trust God regardless of what people tell you. Take information simply as what it is. Information does not decide the outcome. You decide the outcome. Use the information that your situation provides to make plans for action. Above all, do not ignore what God has said by clinging to the reports of doubt and unbelief. Have faith in God and do what he says!
|© <%= year(date) %> Pursuing the Truth Ministries|