- Sermon Notes
November 12-13, 2022
In life, we come across many crossroads. Many times, we will have to choose which road we are going to take. One road might lead into the unknown to where God is leading you, calling you on to move in faith. The other road might be the one you are led down by the voice of fear. The road of fear might be more familiar, but it is not the better road God wants for your life.
This is applicable to many situations. It might be God calling you out of the wrong friendships, wrong lifestyle, wrong mindset, or whatever is keeping you from God’s best for you. It might also be God calling you into new ventures.
We see a type of this in Numbers 13 where Israel is at the very doorstep of the Promised Land. They have come to Kadesh Barnea in the wilderness of Zin. God instructed Moses to send 12 spies into the land, one from each tribe. They were to see what the land was like, whether the people in it were strong or weak, and whether they were few or many. And they were also to bring samples of the fruit of the land.
When the twelve spies returned after 40 days, ten of them brought back a bad report. “The people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there… The land 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.”
Two of them, Caleb and Joshua, brought back a favorable report and challenged the people to enter in and possess it for God would surely give it to them, for God was with them.
The people of Israel were at a spiritual crossroads. They must decide if they would believe God and enter the land of promise, or if they would succumb to fear and keep wandering in the wilderness.
There are valuable lessons in this story. Many will find themselves at a spiritual crossroads in life where they face a difficult decision, challenged by difficulties and faced with hardships no matter which direction they turn. Yet there is a way that brings the promises of God that requires faith greater than fear. In other words, faith will give you courage to move forward and receive the promises of God.
Paul wrote that what happened to Israel was an example for us that we should not follow after them in their disbelief because many of them were destroyed in the wilderness.
I. Pass Through the Wilderness
- God never wanted Israel to stay in the wilderness. It was never meant to be their home. The point of bringing them out of Egypt was to bring them to the land He had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- The journey in the wilderness was never meant to be permanent, He was bringing them somewhere; to a place where they could have a homeland and build a legacy of trusting God.
A. God uses the wilderness to strengthen faith
- There is a comparison between God delivering Israel from the slavery of Egypt and God delivering us from the world.
- The promised land is not a picture of heaven, however. There are no Canaanites to be driven out of heaven, there are no giants there to be defeated. It’s a picture of spiritual maturity, of living in the promises of God and taking hold of them for spiritual victory.
- The wilderness, then, is a picture of what? That depends. For that generation who came out of Egypt, it was a picture of spiritual immaturity, of not taking hold of God’s purpose and calling, of not having spiritual victory; of having fear rather than faith. That generation died in the wilderness.
- For the generation who came after them, however, it was a picture of spiritual discipleship, of learning to grow in faith, of God preparing them for His promises.
Deuteronomy 8:2, “You shall remember all the ways which the Lord your God led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”
- The promises of God are not always a gift you simply unwrap; sometimes they come from facing challenges head-on and trusting God to be with you through every trial and every trouble.
- Sometimes, new Christians have the fear that they will not be able to stand firm in faith on their journey; that the trials, temptations, or spiritual battles will overwhelm them.
- In this journey, we can have the assurance that God will not allow us to be tested or tempted above our ability to endure.
1 Corinthians 10:13… and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
Exodus 13:17-18, Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea.
- There are spiritual lessons from your time in the wilderness as well. In other words, there are many who have come to faith in Jesus Christ but have not learned to walk victoriously.
B. With the heart a person believes
- Israel did not enter the land of promise at Kadesh Barnea because they were afraid, but there was more to it than that.
- As we saw last week in Numbers 11 – “They became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord.”
- It’s difficult to make good decisions with a bad attitude. Their critical and complaining spirit did something to them. And it’s true for you and me as well. A critical and complaining spirit will drain spiritual life from you; it will leave you spiritually weak.
- The problem wasn’t God – He had already proven Himself to them over and over. God even told them that the land He was leading them into was a land flowing with milk and honey. They sent spies into the land to go and see if this was true, and it confirmed what God has said. They even brought back physical evidence.
- God has given us many promises as well. We even have testimonies and a cloud of witnesses to rely on.
- The problem wasn’t the land – they had now seen it with their own eyes. The problem was their heart.
Romans 10:10, With the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Luke 8:15, “The ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, these are the ones who bear fruit with perseverance.”
- There were 12 leaders who went in to spy out the land. Ten came back with a bad report; two came back with a good report. What was the difference?
Numbers 14:24, “My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.”
- When we have the Spirit of God residing in us, we should also operate in a different spirit. We should be looking at things differently.
Illus. – When one flies in an airplane, one gets a different perspective opposed to when you are on the ground. Astronauts experience this to the extreme….
Ephesians 2:4-7, But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
- We should be looking at everything, (adversity, challenges, blessings) from a different perspective.
C. God does not give a spirit of fear
- If a person has a spirit of fear, one thing is for certain, it did not come from God.
2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
- You were born with a spirit of fear, it’s part of the human condition. But faith comes from taking God’s word and holding onto it in your heart.
Romans 10:17, Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
- Here’s the point to take hold of – fear will keep you from taking hold of the promises of God.
- They saw the difficulties; they knew there were giants before them, but they took God out of the equation.
App –There are many who come to faith in Jesus Christ but do not obtain the promises that God has for them and therefore they do not experience “life to the full” that Jesus promised them.
- How many do not experience the fullness of a joyful marriage because of fear and insecurity?
- How many do not pursue their calling because of the fear of failure?
- How many do not share their faith because of fear of being rejected?
- Grow in your faith so that the cares, concerns, trials and difficulties of your life do not keep you from experiencing the promises of victory that God has already given you.
Hebrews 4:2, For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.
- God didn’t promise to keep you from every trouble. He promised that He would walk with you through every trouble, through every fire.
Isaiah 43:2, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.
- Every step in the desert is not meant to make you feel disheartened and defeated. Its purpose is to make you stronger and more spiritually resilient.
II. Faith Changes Your Perspective
- Their lack of faith changed the way they saw themselves and the way they saw the enemy. They saw themselves like grasshoppers in their own sight and they saw the enemy as giants.
- But Joshua and Caleb saw it all quite differently, “The Lord will bring us into this land. He will give it to us. Do not rebel against the Lord and do not fear the people of this land, they shall be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” Faith changes everything.
- If Israel would have entered in at that moment, they would have been saved from wandering in the desert for those forty years and they would have experienced the promises that God had for them.
A. Some promises are obtained by faith
- There are various types or degrees of faith. Israel trusted God to take them out of Egypt but lacked the faith to obtain the promises of the land.
- Many people are delighted to receive the good gifts of God – so long as it costs them nothing. But the moment God says to rise up and take the ground that is held by the enemy, they falter.
- Faith gives the courage to move, to rise up, to press forward, to possess God’s promises.
- What did God expect? He expected them to believe; He proved Himself to them. He expected them to press forward in faith.
- The enemy wants you to keep on wandering in a purposeless defeated life. God wants you to take possession of His promises.
- Even then, if you want to take possession of the promises, the flesh, just like the inhabitants of Canaan, will always be there resisting the work of God, His promises, and plan for your life.
- You will have to stand in faith against it, knowing that the battle has already been won and God is the one strengthening you to stand against the resistance of the flesh.
- Jesus wanted strong faith in His disciples as well and it’s a good word for us.
Matthew 6:30, “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!”
Matthew 8:26, He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.
Matthew 14:31, Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Matthew 16:8, But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?
B. Live the victorious life
- This is what pleases God. I love the words of that worship song, “I’ve seen you move, you moved the mountains, and I believe I’ll see you do it again…”
- What does the victorious life look like?
- It remembers what God has done. He has proven Himself over and over.
App – Do you also have your own history of remembering what God has done? God has proven Himself to me over and over. I remember many things that God has done that were absolutely amazing.
Illus – When we made this move to America…
- It is not dominated by fear. They have fear; but they are not dominated by it.
“We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.” ― Madeleine L’Engle
- Their mind is set. They have made up their mind; the question is settled.
Joshua 24:15, Choose you this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
2 Timothy 1:12, I am not ashamed; for I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him until that day.
- They live life to the full. This is the way God intended it to be lived, in the fullness that comes from the Holy Spirit.
- They know that all men are grasshoppers and God is over all.
Isaiah 40:22, It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
- A question then comes up: what if I am new in the faith and haven’t seen God move in my life yet? This is where the history recorded in the Bible is so valuable.
- Also, the stories and testimonies of others’ journeys they have been on and how God was involved in their lives can be encouraging to those around them and guide others on their journey. This stirs faith as you look at the cloud of witnesses around you.
- God’s desire for us is to take hold of God’s promises, living in the new life through faith.
Numbers 13:25-14:11 NASB
25 When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days, 26 they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel [a]in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 Thus they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the [b]descendants of Anak there. 29 Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb quieted the people [c]before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” 31 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.” 32 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 [d]inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. 33 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.”
1 Then all the congregation [e]lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept [f]that night. 2 All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. 6 Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7 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. 8 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. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our [g]prey. Their [h]protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” 10 But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel.
11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?