Numbers 12-13

Faith Over Facts.

“But Caleb tried to encourage the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it! But the other men who had explored the land with him answered, “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are! – Numbers 13:30-31 NLT

After a short delay by God in order to punish Miriam for some jealousy issues over Moses’ leadership role, God leads the people to Kadesh-Barnea. They are now on the edge of the Promised Land. This has been their destination all along. It is the place He had promised to bring them and now they are here. But before they go in, God has them send in twelve spies. According to Deuteronomy 1:22, this was actually the peoples’ idea. They petitioned Moses to send in spies and God appears to go along with the plan. But I think God had a different agenda than the people did. Their reason for sending in spies was to determine if this thing was doable. God was sending in spies to give witness to the truth concerning its abundance and fruitfulness. In other words, as far as God was concerned, this was a fact-finding mission. This was not a specially formed committee to determine or decide whether or not to go into the land. That was not an option.

But the spies went and the spies saw. And when they returned they reports the facts just as they saw them. They even brought back physical evidence of the land’s long-rumored fruitfulness: grape clusters so big you had to carry them on a pole between two men. But the 12 men came back with two different opinions about the land. The majority affirmed its fruitfulness, but also said it was filled with giants and an abundance of well-armed foes living in fortified cities. Their conclusion? “We can’t attack those people; they’re way stronger than we are” (Numbers 13:31 MSG). Everything they said was true. The land was filled with giants. There were an abundance of well-armed people living in fortified cities. And they were far stronger than the Israelites. But they had left out one important fact: God was on their side, and He had promised to give them this land. He had never told them it was going to be easy. He had warned them from day one that the land was filled with other inhabitants (Exodus 3:8, 17). He had told them that they would have to remove those inhabitants from the land. But He was going to give the victory. “For my angel will go before you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, so you may live there. And I will destroy them” (Exodus 23:23 NLT). God never told them that this was going to be a cake-walk. But He did assure their victory – as long as they obeyed Him.

But it seems that only Caleb and Joshua believed God. They saw the same things the others had seen. They did not deny the fact that there were giants in the land and fortified cities occupied by well-armed people. But their conclusion was very different: “Let’s go at once to take the land, we can certainly conquer it!” (Numbers 13:30 NLT). We can do this! In spite of the odds, we can accomplish what God has told us to do. Faith can trump the facts. We can trust God because He promised us this land! It is as good as ours!

Every day we are faced with all kinds of facts that seem to contradict the faithfulness of God. Unpaid bills, financial uncertainty, illness, relational problems, job pressures, etc. We look around us and wonder if this is what God really promised us. And we lose heart. We let the facts determine our faith, instead of the other way around. We give in and give up. We fail to step out in faith in the face of the overwhelming facts and watch Him work. God did not tell us the Christian life was going to be easy. He just promised to be with us. He gave us His Holy Spirit. He provided us with His Word. And He assured us of victory. We will have trials. We will face enemies. We will run into the “giants” in the land. But God will go ahead of us. He will provide for us and protect us. We will still have to do battle, but He assures us of victory in the end. Like Caleb and Joshua, we must say, “We can do this, because God is with us!”

Father, You are with us. And even though the facts seems to sometimes be stacked against us, You have promised us victory. You are more powerful than our enemies. You are faithful. You will not leave us or forsake us. You will not ask us to do anything without providing the strength to do it. Help us to be more like Caleb and Joshua. May we see the facts, but not allow them to determine our faith. Problems are just an opportunity to watch You work! Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men