Summary: Three suggestions to help you overcome your problems.

“How Big Is Your Problem?”

January 23, 2011

Numbers 13: 1-2; 17-33

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

3 So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites.

17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? 20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)

21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshkol,[a] they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. 25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 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. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 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.”

30 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.”

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

The Israelites had seen some awesome miracles. A couple of months prior to this Moses had revealed God’s power as he performed one miracle after another. Turning a staff into a snake, dust into lice, water into blood, day turned to night, the sea parted, Pharoah and his army destroyed – what an awesome display of God’s power and goodness - and that He was with them!

Just prior to the spies being sent out, Miriam was struck with leprosy and then healed; God sent Quail to feed them; fire fell from heaven and destroyed some of the complainers. Beyond that, they could see a pillar of fire in their camp every night and a pillar of clouds every day.

Man! Wouldn’t you like to see one or two of those miracles? Wouldn’t that boost your faith a little? It didn’t seem to help theirs. You see, the issue is the heart. Believing is a choice. Trust is a choice. Seeing is not necessarily believing. That’s why Paul said, “we live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) Stability is from choosing to put your faith in God. If we believe only if we see something – we can be easily deceived and led astray. After seeing all these awesome miracles, these people were led astray, led to doubt God’s power, led to doubt God’s provision for them by a few faithless, doubting, complaining leaders.

One little side lesson here: Do you see how a few negative, complaining, doubting people can destroy us? Ten faithless people almost completely destroyed a nation. Ten faithless people hindered millions from entering into God’s blessing. Ten faithless people caused millions to die in the desert instead of enjoying a land that flowed with milk and honey! That was their way of saying it was a ‘sweet’ land; a land of abundance. And they missed it – because they choose to believe ten doubting leaders instead of two godly men.

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