Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: When the Children of Israel finally made it to the edge of the Promised Land, they were tempted to give up. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: “And they said to one another, ‘Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.’” Unthinkable! But fear will make you irrational.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, August 25, 2014.

At some point in the future, you’ll be the recipient of bad news. It can involve work, family, or money. Each of us will get a phone call or hear a conversation that we would rather not receive.

Nancy will prepare you for a wise response when the bad news comes as she continues in the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 3): Trusting God for the Promised Land." 

Nancy: During these days, we’re parked with the Children of Israel at the southernmost border of Canaan, the Promised Land, the land that God had told them for hundreds of years would one day be their homeland.

If you’ve been with us over the past few sessions, you know that the Children of Israel have sent twelve leaders of their tribes—a leader from each tribe, twelve spies—into the Promised Land to check it out, to come back and give a report of what it’s like.

If you’re just joining us, let me ask you, if you can, to turn in your Bible to Numbers 13. I know some Revive Our Hearts listeners are in your van or at your workplace and you are not able to sit down and open the Scripture. But if you are able, that's always the best way to listen to teaching from God's Word. Then you are seeing it with your own eyes and getting it into your own heart. It's the Word of God that is powerful, more than anything I can say about it. 

The twelve spies returned from their forty-day journey into the Promised Land, and they laid out the facts to the Children of Israel.

[They said,] It flows with milk and honey [it’s a place of abundance, a place of prosperity, bounteous provision] and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendents of Anak there. [These were a fierce, warlike race of giants, very tall people.]
The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan (vv. 27–29).

Let me pause here and say, everything they said was true. It was all true. These enemies, these giants, these opponents of God’s people really did live in the land.

Yet between the twelve spies there were two different responses to the same set of facts. First we see the response of Caleb and Joshua, the two names that we remember out of the twelve.

Verse 30: “But Caleb quieted the people before Moses.” That word quieted—when that verb is used in the Hebrew, it usually occurs in the form “hush; shush; be quiet.”

The picture you have here is that the people have been listening to the report of the spies. They’ve seen the fruit with their own eyes. But they’re hearing about these descendents of Anak, these giants and the Hittites and the Amalekites and all the other “ites,” and they’re starting to talk to each other. They’re murmuring, and they’re mumbling, and they’re restless.

You can just sense that the din has risen. Everybody is chattering and talking. “And what are we going to do about this?” You can just imagine the things they’re saying:

“Martha, can you believe what he just said?”

“I don’t know how we’re ever going to do this!”

“What are we doing here?”

The people are restless; they’re murmuring. So Caleb gets up, and he says, “Shush! Listen. Be quiet.”

What did he say? “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it” (v. 30).

That’s a statement of faith. His was a response of faith. “God has given us His promises, and we can go into the land and take it.”

Caleb and Joshua (who we’ll see stood along with him) saw the facts. They saw the enemies. They weren’t in a state of denial. They weren’t saying, “Those enemies don’t exist.” “It’ll be okay.” “We’re bigger than they are.”

They knew they weren’t bigger than the enemy. But what they knew was that God was bigger than the enemy.

So they saw the facts. They knew they couldn’t take this land on their own, but they knew that God could.

They focused on the greatness of God, and they operated on faith. Faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Heb. 11:6). Faith pleases God. So we have Caleb and Joshua responding on the basis of faith.

Then we have the ten other spies responding to the same set of circumstances—the opposition, the obstacles, the giants, the fortified cities, the great numbers and strength of the inhabitants of the land. They respond to those circumstances not based on faith but based on fear.

Where there is fear, there is not faith. Where there is faith, fear will be dissolved. You cannot walk by faith and live in fear. You cannot walk in fear and live by faith.

Look at Numbers 13:31: “Then the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people.’”

What had Caleb just said? “We are well able to overcome it.” Now the ten spies say, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”

The land . . . is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim)”  (vv. 12–13).

That word Nephilim refers to a race of giants that’s described briefly in a mysterious passage back in Genesis 4. We’ve taught on that before on Revive Our Hearts. “We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers [in front of these giants], and so we seemed to them.”

The opposition that they are facing is admittedly considerable. There are tall people in the land. There are strong inhabitants. There are walled, fortified cities.

Nobody is questioning that. But fear rather than faith—the fear in the hearts of these ten men—caused them to exaggerate the opposition.

Isn’t that what fear does to us? I mean, for me it can be something as little as a bug in my house. I look at that little bug—in fact, it’s about ¾ of an inch long, but to me it looks like it’s three feet long. I’m not into bugs. I don’t do bugs. Fear can cause us to exaggerate the opposition.

Mary Ann is here and she knows I've called her before saying, "There's a bug on the floor!" I don't do mice either. I've had those at times. You can hear me yell in the next county to somebody to come and deal with this mouse. They seem huge to me—fear causes us to exaggerate the opposition.

What did these ten spies say? “All the people that we saw in it are of great height.” Now, we know because God’s Word tells us so that some were unusually tall. But all of them? I don’t believe that’s true.

And did they really seem like grasshoppers to the Anakim? How did they even know what the Anakim were thinking?

You see, fear causes our thoughts to snowball, and we dwell on them and mull them over. We nurse these thoughts in our mind, and they snowball. By the time we talk about it, a considerable problem has become an impossible problem.

What’s the impact on the people? Here they are, standing at the very edge of the Promised Land after 400 years of slavery in Egypt, after seeing the powerful hand of God on their behalf.

Here they stand at a crucial, decisive moment. It’s a crisis in each of their lives and in their life as a nation.

What’s the crisis? Would they exercise faith in God, or would they cave in to fear? Faith or fear? How would they vote?

Chapter 14 of Numbers goes on to tell us exactly how they voted. The congregation was swayed by the majority report of the ten who operated on fear rather than by the faith of Caleb and Joshua.

What did the congregation do? They had a meltdown.

Have you ever been there? Has your family ever been there? Has your church ever been there? They had a meltdown.

Look at verses 1–2 of chapter 14: “Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them . . .”

By the way, do you see the references to all? All—the whole congregation.

I think God inspired within two verses those three references to the fact that it was all of them; because later, when all of them were to come under God’s judgment, we would know that God’s judgment was righteous. They had all given in to fear.

The whole congregation said to [Moses and Aaron], "Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?" And they said to one another, "Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt” (vv. 2–4).

Unthinkable! But fear will make you irrational.

One of the commentaries I read while I was studying this passage, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, has a couple of paragraphs about this scene that I’ve just got to read to you. It describes so perfectly what I think was taking place here. This commentary says,

No one talked about God’s grace. None recited his miracles. Forgotten was the act of God where the most powerful nation of their world [the nation of Egypt] was stymied at the rushing of waters back to their beds. The thunder of Sinai, the fire of God that he had spoken and delivered and graced his people beyond imagination—all these things were forgotten in their paroxysm of fear. Fear unchecked becomes its own fuel, a self-propelling force that expands as it expends. . . .

Verses one and two emphasize the pervasiveness of the fear and the outrage of the entire populace. The entirety of the community was given over to wailing, as only people in the East can do. This was not a scene of passive resignation. . . . We are to imagine the worst sort of rage, a picture of screaming, rending, throwing, cursing anger—an intoxication of grief.1

That’s pretty graphic, isn’t it? Can you just picture the scene?

This is mob rule now. Fear has turned the Children of Israel into a mob, a violent mob, an irrational mob. And these seeds of fear were planted by those ten who did not believe God.

After all the evidence they had seen of God’s gracious design and His power to protect and provide, what did they do? They revolted.

They accused God, their Shepherd, their Savior, their Redeemer; they accused Him of malicious intent. “You brought us here to kill us.” And they said, “We want to go back to Egypt. We loved it in Egypt.”

Of course they had spent years whining and crying and begging to get out of Egypt. But now when they saw what it was going to take to get into the Promised Land, they said, “We want to go back.”

So you have Moses and Aaron and Caleb and Joshua, four men standing alone against this entire mob congregation. The wind was clearly blowing against them. But Joshua and Caleb were not swayed. Look at verse 5:

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, "The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land” (vv. 5–7).

Exceedingly good. That word in Hebrew, exceedingly, is actually a repeated modifier that could be translated “very, very good.” The land is very, very good.

Keep that in mind when you’re facing the giants, when you know that to move forward in the will or the ways of God in your marriage or your workplace or your church or your ministry is going to require some battle. Keep in mind that the land where the Lord is taking you is very, very good.

Don’t lose that perspective. If you do, you will cave in to fear.

Now, no one was questioning that the land was very good. All the spies agreed on that. But Joshua and Caleb were the ones who kept their focus there and said, “God can enable us to go in and take the land.”

Before we move on to the next verse, I want to insert a parenthesis here, something that struck me as I was studying this whole passage. As we’re looking at Joshua’s life in the big picture of this series, we’re looking for clues about how to stay faithful to God over the long haul—how to be a man or woman of faith and courage when everything is going against you.

One of the keys I see in this passage is the importance of looking for like-minded, like-hearted friends who will stand with you in faith. Joshua and Caleb stood together against the fear and unbelief of their colleagues.

We’ve already seen the heart that Joshua had for God. Now Joshua finds in Caleb a kindred spirit.

So they gravitated to each other because they were of a different mold. They were cut out of a different cloth than the other ten spies.

Rather than go with the crowd, Joshua linked himself with men of faith—men like Moses, whose assistant he’d been all these years, and men like Caleb, a younger man who was willing to trust God—men who mutually encouraged and strengthened each other to fully follow the Lord.

Now, there are times in your life when you may be called to move forward in faith, and you have no one to walk with you except the Lord—no kindred spirit, no one else who’s exercising faith, maybe in your home or in your workplace or in your situation. And if that’s where God puts you, then He will supernaturally sustain and strengthen you to go into the battle.

But I am so grateful, as I look back over my life, for other people who have encouraged me in my walk of faith, and other people who have helped hold me up when I was slipping into unbelief and fear; people who have helped me focus on the Lord rather than on the giants.

Sometimes it’s just a phone call. Sometimes I’ll be low and fearful and lapsing into unbelief. I’ll make a phone call to someone I know, another woman who I know to be a woman of faith, and I’ll just say, “I’m struggling.”

I thank God for the women in my life who will say, “Remember the promises of God. God is greater. You will get through this. Remember how God has been faithful.”

They’ll help me rehearse the faithfulness of God. They’ll help me look forward and say, “Giants? Yes, they’re big, but they’re not as big as God. Move forward. You can overcome them.”

I not only need people like that, but I want to be the kind of woman who does that for others. When others are lapsing into unbelief, I want to be the kind of friend who can come alongside them and inspire and instill faith in the covenant promises of God.

There are times in this walk of faith where you start to think you're crazy because no one else thinks this way. We get letters and emails from moms saying, “We’re trying to raise our children God’s way. We’re trying to protect them from negative, ungodly influences. We’re trying to walk by faith in our giving” or in whatever the area of life is; single women saying, “I’m walking by faith and waiting on the Lord for His timing, and I don’t want to say yes to a man as a husband until it’s God’s choice and God’s time.”

People around you will often not support those choices. Even within the church you will find people who will pull you down into unbelief, people who will pull you down into fear.

So you can start to think, “Am I the only one on the planet who is thinking this way?” Well, you’re not.

Ask God to bring a Caleb into your life. Ask God to give you a friend—a woman, a mate, a child, an older woman—somebody who will believe God with you—a kindred spirit.

And ask God to make you that kind of friend—someone who encourages faith rather than fueling negativity and fear in the hearts of others.

Well, Joshua and Caleb stand together, and rather than focusing on the giants, they focus on God. They point people to Him. Look at verses 8–9, and see the emphasis on God.

They say, “If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”

In verses 8 and 9, we see several things that helped Joshua and Caleb stand firm in their faith. What helped them in the face of insurmountable obstacles, immense opposition? What kept them moving forward in faith?

First, they saw the heart of God. They said, “If the Lord delights in us.” That word means “to be pleased with, to enjoy, to smile over.” They said, “God loves us. He didn’t bring us here to kill us. He delights in us.”

So the Scripture says in Psalm 149:4, “The Lord takes pleasure [delight] in His people.” Remember that when you’re facing the giants. Remember the heart of God.

Remember Zephaniah 3:17 that says, “The Lord your God . . . will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (NIV). Remember the heart of God.

Then, remember God’s gracious offer, God’s gracious intent. He’s taking us into a land that flows with milk and honey. It’s a land of prosperity and abundance. Don’t forget that. That will give you faith.

Remember Jeremiah 29:11. You’ve quoted it often: “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for [wholeness] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Keep in mind the gracious intent and offer of God.

Then, don’t forget the promises of God. “He will bring us into this land and give it to us.” How do we know that? Because He said He would. He will. Remember the promises of God. Cling to them whenever everything seems to be contrary.

Remember the authority of God. God has not only promised He would give this to us, but He has told us to go in and claim it.

So Joshua and Caleb say to the people, “Do not rebel against the Lord.” If you lapse into unbelief and fear here, you will be rejecting the authority of God. You’ll be rebelling against Him.

Then, remember that the enemy is defenseless. Oh yes, they’re tall. Oh yes, there are giants. Oh yes, they have fortified cities and great weapons.

But Joshua and Caleb saw with eyes of faith something that the other ten spies could not see. They said, “Their protection is removed from them.”

That word protection in the Hebrew is often translated “shade” or “shadow.” You see statements about coming under the shadow of the Almighty, under the shade or the wings of God.

He’s our protection. They’re saying the shadow, the shade, the protection that God has put over that land in the past has been removed from them. They have now been rendered defenseless.

No matter how tall those walls are, no matter how tall those soldiers are, God has removed His covering and protection from them, and they don’t have walls high enough or thick enough to withstand the people of God going in the power of God. Remember that.

Then, remember God’s presence. “The Lord is with us.” The Lord is with us. That’s our protection.

They’ve been rendered defenseless. Their protection has been removed, and the Lord is with us. How can we lose?

Yes, there’s going to be a battle, but how can we lose? Therefore Joshua and Caleb say, “Do not fear them. Don’t rebel. Go into the land.”

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray.

God has called you to a significant, meaningful life. If you’re like most people, obstacles and challenges threaten to keep you from it. Nancy’s teaching on Joshua is such a valuable resource, encouraging us to push ahead and not give up.

We’re in a study called "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 3): Trusting God for the Promised Land." After the radio series is over, challenges and obstacles will continue to pop up in your life. 

We’d like to help prepare you for those moments by sending you a booklet called Promises to Live By. It lists many promises from the Bible, and when you set your mind on these promises, the obstacles and challenges will grow less and less intimidating.

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a financial gift of any amount, we’ll show our thanks by sending you this booklet, Promises to Live By—one booklet per household. Let us hear from you by this Friday when we’ll stop making this offer. Ask for Promises to Live By when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, you know God wants you to take some action, but fear says, “No way.” Nancy will offer solid counsel for situations like that on tomorrow’s Revive Our Hearts. Now, let’s pray.

Nancy: Father, we thank You for Your presence, Your power, Your promises, Your protection that are with us this day. Help us to remember Your heart, that You delight in us.

Help us to remember that You have gracious intents and plans for our lives. Help us to remember Your promises and claim them.

Help us to remember that we are under Your authority, that You have told us to go in and take the land. And may we see that the enemy has been rendered defenseless because Jesus Christ has rendered him defenseless at the cross, and we go in the name and the power and the strength of the Lord God Almighty, the conquering King of kings and Lord of lords.

Make us women of faith. Forgive us for our fear, and make us women who inspire faith in others. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise otherwise. 

 

 

 

 

1Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 813.

 

 

 

 

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