Our No Fear study this week continues the story of Moses and the Isrealites, who saw the Lord fight for them, while they had only to be still. After crossing the Red Sea and experiencing the deliverance of the Lord, the Hebrews were ready to enter the land God promised Abraham generations before.
Standing at the brink of God’s promises, at the border of Canaan, the people decide to send 12 spies into the land, to prepare the nation for the battle ahead.
Ten spies return with terrible news:
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… and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight. (Numbers 13: 32-33)
This report causes the people to despair. But there is a voice of hope. Two of the spies have an entirely different view of the land of promise.
Caleb and Joshua attempt to calm the people, assuring Moses that the people can indeed take the land as God has promised. As the people weep and wail, wishing they had died in Egypt, Joshua and Caleb beg the people to believe God’s promise.
This fascinates me: How can 12 people have the exact same experience and come to two entirely different conclusions?
The answer is perspective.
Ten spies see obstacles, barriers, giants. Their view of the obstacles is bigger than their view of God: And so they preach fear and fleeing.
Joshua and Caleb see the obstacles, but their view of God is bigger than anything they saw in the land. And so they preach faith. Hope. Trust.
Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:6-9)
Ten spies see giants. Joshua and Caleb see food, knowing that the obstacles we face by faith strengthen us.
Perspective is a choice.
What choice will we make? As we look to the unknown, to challenges, as we listen to the voices in our heads that cry “I CAN’T”, which is bigger? The challenge? The obstacle? The giants?
Perspective is largely a function of focus. In photography, whatever is closest to the camera appears largest. I have a choice where I focus, and what I let be closest to me, as I picture challenges and things that make me afraid.
Is the challenge, the source of fear, standing between me and God?
Or am I looking at every challenge – like Joshua and Caleb – through the lens of a good God, who keeps His promises?
This is an important choice: It will lead us to be grasshoppers in our own eyes, or it will allow us to see obstacles as food for us. And if we’re leaders? It’s the difference between leading people to despair or encouraging them to faith. God WILL keep His promises. No fear.
What obstacles are you facing right now? What makes you feel like a grasshopper, and maybe like you’d be better off anywhere but here?
As a leader (in life, in your job, in your family), in what ways might you tend to focus on challenges and obstacles, letting them be bigger than God in your eyes and the eyes of those you lead? And how are you encouraged in your leadership by Caleb and Joshua’s example?
As you look to the future, things that make you feel fearful, what would it look like for you to see God as bigger than any obstacle or challenge?
This post is the latest in the NO FEAR Devotional Series. If this resonated with you, check back every Tuesday, and read the previous posts in the series here.