Summary: This is part of a sermon series entitles, Overcoming the Grasshopper complex. Believers do not have to live their lives bound by the mistakes and sins of the past. they can achieve victory as they submit themselves to God’s plan for thier lives. this mes

TITLE: When Faith Is Not Enough

TEXT: Numbers 14:39-45

THEME: rebellion, presumptive faith, Israelites, wilderness faith, sin, joshua,

P.S. Many people forge ahead with faulty presuppositions about God and His will for their lives. Like the Israelites we have a tendency to rush into situations thinking we know in advance exactly what God wants us to do.

Key Verse: But they presumed to go up to the mountaintop. Nevertheless, neither the Ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed from the camp.


ILLUSTRATION: People who presume to know what is best for them are often mistaken. Take for example the man who presumed that he knew which plane to board when he wanted a quick 50 minute flight from Los Angeles to Oakland, California. However, after two hours in the air he asked the flight attendant why it was taking so long to land in Oakland. The stewardess disappeared for a moment and called the pilot about a man who might pose a threat to the safety of all those on board. Before the man knew it he was handcuffed and put in the back of the plane. 12 hours later, the man learned that he was in New Zealand. After serious questioning, the man confessed that he misunderstood the New Zealand pronunciation of the capital of New Zealand, Auckland for Oakland. Even though it turned out to be an innocent mistake, the man’’s faulty presumption landed him and many others in a heap of trouble.

P.S. Many people forge ahead with faulty presuppositions about God and His will for their lives. Like the Israelites we have a tendency to rush into situations thinking we know in advance exactly what God wants us to do.

We may even pray, asking him to bless our plans. We may claim every passage of scripture and expect God to do as we think HE should. Yet in the end we are beaten, and trampled by the enemy. Like Israel, we are browbeaten, confused, and ashamed. We are left wondering,

Where were God’s promises? Why did He forsake Israel in their hour of need? Why did He allow His people to be humiliated in the presence of unbelievers? Where have we gone wrong?

First, a little background to our passage this morning. We left the Israelites at the shores of the Jordan, paralysed with the fear of the giants they would face. Fear does peculiar things to a persons rational. They even said it would be better to return to Egypt, than to face the challenges of the promised Land. You can almost hear their cries as they receive God’s pronouncement through Moses,

As I live, says the Lord, just as you have spoken in my hearing, so I will do to you; The carcasses of you who have complained against me shall fall in the wilderness all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above.(v.28-29)

It must have seemed like the longest night of their lives. It is heart wrenching to hear one family mourn at the loss of a loved one. But imagine the wail of 2.5 million people crying and screaming atthe loss of their promised home. Thirty-eight years would be added to the two that were spent in the desert. This would make 40 years total. That whole generation would be doomed to die meaninglessly in the hot, unforgiving arid wilderness. What a waste of resources, and faith.

It is human nature to be reactionary. leaders decided to take action. Some of the Israelite Now, all of a sudden they felt they had the faith to go into the land . Now they saw how mistaken they had been. Now they were determined to prove to Moses and God, that they were the giants after all, and the Canaanite were the grasshoppers. They sounded brave, stalwart, and strong.

In fact if the story began here, it would appear as if the Israelites truly believed that God would be with them as He promised. However, the story continues,

And they rose early in the morning and went up to the top of the montan, saying, ‘Here we are, and we will go up to the place which the Lord has promised, for we can certainly do it.’

Heedless of Moses’ warning that the ‘Lord was not among them’, the people forged ahead into battle anyway. The result was disastrous. The Amalekites and the Canaanite came down and attacked them and drove them as far as Hormah. Hormah is not a place as much as a physical state of being. It means “Utter destruction”. The Israelites were pushed to the brink of anhiliation. Years latter, Moses would recount this sad episode, and add this vivid picture of what happened,

And the Amoroties who dwelt in the mountains came out against you and chased you as bees do...’(Deut.1:44)

They then returned to Moses whipped, beaten and flogged. Crushed like, GRASSHOPPERS!

Why did He forsake Israel in their hour of need? Why did He allow His people to be humiliated in the presence of unbelievers? Moses said that,

They presumed to go up to the mountain. Nevertheless, neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed from the camp.

They went ahead with there plans, without the presence of God encouraging them nor with the leadership of Moses to guide them.

There are several kinds of presumption we can make. One refers to the sin of deliberately defying the Almighty. Despite God’s pronouncement of judgement, and Moses warnings that God was not with them in their decision, Israel went ahead anyway. They deliberately defied God’s commands. The result was, they went without the presence of God.

ILLUSTRATION: Samson had the promise of God’s strength. When he wilfully disobeyed his covenant with God, he did not know God had left him. He presumed the promise of God.

Another kind of presumption is a careless application of the promises and will of God. That is what happened to the Israelites. They thought they had a promise in hand but they could not get God to honour it. When we do not consult the Lord in prayer and through the Word, we can also makemistake.

Thirdly, it is possible to use the promises of god presumptuously without considering the interpretations and conditions that are attached to them. Some people treat the word of God and the promises as some kind of good luck charm or token.

ILLUSTRATION: Elis sons and the ark. They were living in a rebellious state, but presumed that by bringing the ARK into battle that God would bless them.

Though they showed bravery and faith at the last minute Israel could not get God to honour their plans. Did they not have faith? They certainly voiced it at the last minute. There are times when faith is not enough. When we launch out from a heart of disobedience, then we presume the promise of God. What are some of the lessons we learn from Isreals presumption?

1. Lesson number one is that we be sure to claim a promise that is clearly intended for us.

We do this when we apply the promise to a wrong time period. Or when we go beyond the promises in the Bible and put words in Gods mouth. This most often occurs when a person prays for healing of a financial miracle or Gods will for a job. Impatience sets in when the answer does not come readily. The temptation then is to take matters into our own hands and try to ;help God move’. When He doesn’t people mistakenly conclude that god has been unfaithful.

ILLUSTRATION: John 9. The healing of the Blind young man. Disciples asked, Why was this man born blind?//Jesus response Neither this man sinned nor his parents, but that the works of god might be revealed in him. I must work while it is day...As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world.

In other words, Jesus was simply saying that in God’s time and economy the answer will come. I must be faithful in what He has given me to do until that day.

ILLUSTRATION: Acts 3 the man at the gate beautiful. Have you ever wondered how many times Jesus and the disciples walked by that man? He was obviously well known to the temple security and those who regularly came. Why didn’t Jesus heal him while he was on earth? Because the time would come when the man would be healed by P through Peter.

Another mistake we make is going beyond the promises in the Bible and putting words in Gods mouth. One faith writer has gone on record to say,

“When you confess Jesus as the best business man in the world, it is amazing how much money He will make for you. Just think of it! A God who will make us money if we have the right attitude of heart and make the right confession...The author continues, “If you believe that God won’t get you out of a wheel chair or that God might not choose to heal you, your thinking id goofed up. You need to have your mind blasted.(Norval Hayes, How to Live and Not Die)

Will God perform miracles? Absolutely! But it is presumptuous to insist that we Command God to do whatever we think He should. Yes, God will meet your financial needs. But He expects proper stewardship on our parts as well. Yes He will respond to prayers of faith for healing. But if we constantly abuse our bodies then we will suffer natural consequences. Yes, he will save your children, but if you do not spend time with your family, dad then how will they hear the words you speak, if they are contradicted by the words you live.

God does anser prayer. . But He is not obligated to answer upon our time table.

2. Lesson number two for applying the promises is that we be wholly devoted to God in every aspect of our lives

Look at verse 40 again and ask if the Israelites were in complete submission to God? “Here we are, we have sinned, but we will go up to the place the Lord has promised.’

Notice how they admit their sin. But it seemed rather trivial since God had forgiven them. So they responded, We have sinned BUT...

How many times have I heard people make confessions like that.

I have sinned but everyone is doing it

I have sinned but no one else knows

I have sinned but I was tempted beyond I could bear.

The Israelites casual remark about their sin showed they were unwilling to accept the consequences of their disobedience. This is all too often the attitude of many Canadian Christians. Since God is a forgiving God and full of mercy and grace, then I can admit my sin and continue on my merry way.

Does God forgive sin? Of course He does. Is His grace limited? Thank the Lord no. But we cannot presume that God’s blessing will go with us when we have not submitted to His authority and Lordship.

In James 4:7, we read the promise, “Resist the devil and He will flee,’... But we all too often overlook the attending verse,, Submit yourselves to God, resist the Devil and he will flee from you.

You will remember from our study in James, that the word submission means to come into rank or order. Your ability to resist the Divil is proportionate to your submission to God.

The extent of our submission to God will determine the extent of our ability to resist the devil(Erwin Lutzer)

3. Lesson number three is our motives must be pure.: What was the Israelites motive for changing their minds, and wanting to try to take the land?

The answer is not expressly said. They apparently thought that if they did, then God might change His mind and reverse the judgement, they had brought on themselves. There logic may have meansomething like this,

Well, I told them they could not enter the land, but they appear so determined that I will change my mind and help them conquer after all.(Lutzer)

How often do we pray with the unspoken motive of simply wanting to escape discomfort. How often when praying for relief from suffering, do we ask ourselves, what god may want to teach us in the trials? Rather like children in a candy store, we point to any one of a number of enticing options, hoping that we will get what we want right now.

ILLUSTRATION: Televangelist scandel of the 80’s... one evangelist rejected three year ban by his denomination ...continued preaching...ministry did fall apart..never regained impact and influence..only eternity will tell what he truly lost by trying to keep what was never his in the first place.

No one in history agonized more over God’s will than Jesus. The night he prayed in Gethsemane, he prayed three times that God would take the cup away from Him. Imagine, Jesus praying for some other way. So agonizing was his pray, that the Bible says he sweat drops of blood. The mark of total submission is our willingness to endure hardship. Just ask Jesus if it is always god’s will that we avoid hardship. “Not my will but yours be done’ is our model to follow.

I believe one reason we avoid the Lords discipline is simply because we fail to realize the good plan that He has for us. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us of the Gods motive in our discipline

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons; for what son is there to whom a father does not chasten? But of you are without chastening, of which all become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His Holiness. Now no chastening seems too joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.(Heb.12:7-11)


Like it or not, the Israelites had made their choice. The chose the route of cowardice and had to pay the consequences. They could never return to yesterday. All that could have been would never be. That generation had lost the opportunity to enjoy Gods best, because they wanted second best.

Did this mean that they could not have a future? Did this mean there was no more reason to live on? NO WAY!!!!!!!!!!

They had an opportunity to get to know God in a new way. In the wilderness they would prove Gods faithfulness again, until the generation was spiritually ready to go into the land. You see God is moreinterested in what we are then in where we think we should be. He is more concerned about today, then the misty unknown if tomorrow. There was still a life to be lived and dreams to be fulfilled. There in the desert they would experience the provision of God. He would not abandon them just because they had chosen the wrong path.

God is not restricted by geography. If they had the faith to see it, there was plenty of reason to hope.

Some of you may have made wrong choices that are impossible to rectify. A wrong career decision, child born out of wedlock, a broken marriage. You may have taken the wrong road and cannot change the past. But that does not mean that your life is finished.

You do not have to see yourself as a grasshopper the rest of your life. There are still oasis waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. For the Christian, we are not barred from the spiritual promised land. Our promised land can be enjoyed despite the wrong choices and mistakes of the past.

Gos is still wanting to show Himself strong on behalf of those who love and fear Him. God’s word assures us that,

His Divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and Godliness, through the true knowledge of him who called us by His own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3)

God is as able to help us face wrong choices as much as HE was willing to help Israel with theirs.

How do we tap into these resources? We link our arms with God when we accept what Peter calls “His precious and Magnificent promises.’(v.4)