Summary: This message is the conclusion of the series. In this message I examine how fear and a negative self-perception stopped the Children of Israel from entering the Promised Land.
Placebo Faith – The Real Thing - Part 3
This message will conclude my series on “Placebo Faith – The Real Thing” and also introduce my next series which I will start next week titled, “Recognizing Satan’s Tactics.” In order for us to walk in faith, we must understand how our faith is tested by our enemy so it seemed appropriate to follow this message with a message on understanding how that enemy operates. This is the last Sunday and last day of 2017. All of us expect to see 2018 and the fact that we are looking forward to tomorrow gives us hope for a new day, even though it is not guaranteed that we will see it. I mention this because many Christians live their life as if tomorrow is promised to them and the things they should be doing today can wait for tomorrow. I hope that we will make the change in 2018 that we will no longer wait for tomorrow because every day another soul enters hell and a separation for God for all eternity. We must be steadfast because in 2018 we will begin to understand more fully how the world is changing around us.
This morning I want to close out this series by reminding you of why the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years. As a reminder of what I have shared previously about placebo treatment from a medical perspective, it is when patients receive their healing just because they believe that the pill or treatment they receive is supposed to heal them. In these circumstances, their belief brings into reality what really should not exist. This, my friends, is faith! Our faith is exercised and powered through our beliefs. Because what we believe puts our faith into motion we cannot separate our beliefs from our faith. I want you to see this clearly, what you believe will give evidence of your faith regardless of what you may say to others to convince them of your faith. Our beliefs will always demonstrate our faith or lack thereof! Our foundational Scriptures for this series is found in Hebrews 11:1, 6 and Proverbs 23:7a.
Hebrews 11:1,6 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
Proverbs 23:7a says, “For as he thinks within himself, so is he.”
Think about the relevance of these two Scriptures as we review the moment the Children of Israel refused to enter the Promised Land. The Children of Israel wandered 40 years in the wilderness because of their mindset and the fear that they allowed to overshadow their faith in God. When the Children of Israel arrived to the land that God had promised them, Moses sent twelve men (each a leader of their tribe) to spy out the land. The men went into the city and examined the land and the fruit thereof. When they returned to Moses, they confessed that the land was everything that God had promised them. However, ten of the men were afraid to enter. It was only Joshua and Caleb who stated that they were ready, willing and able to go up immediately and take the land. The people, when hearing the negative report from the ten men who were afraid to enter, sided with those ten men against Joshua and Caleb. So what caused these ten men and ultimately the rest of the people to be afraid? The men focused on the people instead of God who brought them out of Egypt. They used the excuse initially that the people were strong and the city was secure which made it impossible for them to take it. Although these were the reasons they gave, I believe these reasons were an excuse to cover up the real reason. If you read the story closely you will discover that the real reason for their fear rested with how they saw themselves, not necessarily how strong the inhabitants were. How they viewed themselves destroyed their faith in the most powerful God who was on their side. Turn with me Numbers 13:31-33.
“But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.’ So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:31-33) I want you to see how fear made these men contradict themselves. In verse twenty-seven when they first started giving their report they said of the land itself, “….it certainly does flow with milk and honey and this is its fruit.” They confirmed that the land was everything God promised. Now as their fear rose within them as they tried to explain why they “believed” they could not take the land, they said in verse thirty-two that the land “devours its inhabitants.” These two references of the land are contradictory. Most scholars believe that what the ten spies were trying to convey was that because of the environment it would be hard for the people to live there – that many would die. In their hearts, after spending years in bondage in Egypt, their confidence in themselves was lost. You see, according to their report, on the one hand the land flowed with milk and honey (meaning prosperity) and then on the other they said the environment was so harsh that it consumed (killed) the inhabitants living in it and only the strongest survived. It appears that they were seeking any excuse possible to make their case to not go up and take the land. As you read further, their final argument shows what really motivated them their personal fear (false expectations appearing real.) In verse thirty-three they said, “There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” They said that they became grasshopper in their own sight! In other words they looked at the people of the land and then compared those people to themselves and they believed within their hearts that they were lesser – in strength, power and ability to overtake the city. Because they believed they could not take the city their focus now was on staying alive. Imagine for a moment what would have happened if they had tried to take the city with this mindset. Imagine how scared they would have fought because in their minds the battle was already lost. God did not force them to take the city. He allowed them to make their decision which led to their walking away from the Promised Land and entering the wilderness.