Summary: In spite of our wrong choices, if we will humbly submit to god’s will God will bring us to the Promised lad in His time and His way.
When Faith IS Not enough or The Peril of Presumption
Theme: Overcoming the Grasshopper Complex; faith; God’s discipline
A middle-aged farmer wanted to be a preacher for years but wasn’t sure if it was God’s will. One day, while he was working in the field, he decided to rest under a tree. As he looked up into the sky he saw that the clouds seemed to form into the letters P and C. As he thought about it, he realized that PC stood for Preach Christ! Immediately, he jumped up, sold his farm and went out to preach Christ. He was convinced that this was what God was leading him to do. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a horrible preacher. After one of his sermons a neighbor turned to his wife and whispered in her ear, “I’m not so sure that God wasn’t just trying to tell him to Plant Corn!” ( Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, Chuck Swindoll)
Let me ask you a question, Is it possible to fail while relying on God?
Now before you answer that, let’s take a look again at Israel.
When we last saw the Israelites, they were standing on the edge of Promise. God had instructed Moses to select 12 leaders from among the tribes of Israel to scout out the land.
We learned that these men were called, commissioned and commanded by God to survey the people, and bring back a sample of the produce. They had everything they needed to be encouraged to take hold of the promise of God.
They had the irrefutable promise of God’s word to guide them; The faithful provision of God to strengthen them; and the everlasting Presence of God to encourage them. You could say ‘they had it made in the shade!’ How could anyone possibly fail with all that going for them?
But at the beginning of chapter 14, the Israelites are standing at the door of the promised land afraid to go in. In fact a riot is about to begin. The Israelites are now standing at the shores of the Jordan, paralysed with the fear of the giants they would face. Fear does peculiar things to a persons rational. ( read V.1-4) 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 at the loss of their promised home. The Lord’s judgment was swift and firm, “FORTY YEARS would be added to their wandering before a new generation would be given the privilege to possess God’s Promise. What a waste of resources, and faith.
Upon hearing the pronouncement, the leaders decide to take action. 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 mountain, saying, ‘Here we are, and we will go up to the place which the Lord has promised, for we can certainly do it.’
Refusing 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)
Anyone ever been chased by angry bees? They then returned to Moses whipped, beaten and flogged. Crushed like, GRASSHOPPERS!
But isn’t God a God of grace, who forgives those who ask? Even Moses prayed,