The Book of Numbers – When Fear offsets our Trust

In Numbers 13, the Lord commands Moses to send out from each tribe a leader to go and explore the land of Canaan that the Lord was giving to the Israelites.

Num 13:1-2The Lord said to Moses, send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

Moses follows the Lord’s commands, verses 4-15 detail out the name of the leaders of each tribe who were chosen to go on this ‘scout the land’ trip.

Before sending the men, Moses gives them specific instructions

  • To see what the land is like – good or bad
  • Whether the people are few or many, strong or weak
  • Are the town fortified or unwalled
  • Is the soil fertile or poor
  • Are there plenty of trees and to try and bring back some fruit.

A time of testing

The men set off and remained in the land for 40 days, exploring it before returning.

The 40 days piqued my interest. The number 40 shows up in quite a few places in scripture, some of them are:

Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights, being tempted by Satan before he began his ministry (Mathew 4). For forty days, Goliath had taunted Saul and his army, until David came forward in the strength of the Lord and defeated him (1Samuel 17). For 40 days rain poured down during Noah’s time destroying everything else, testing Noah’s faith in God to keep them through it (Genesis 7). Moses was on Mt. Sinai with the Lord for 40 days and nights before coming down and seeing the people worship the golden calf, the people’s faith was tested to remain faithful and obedient in Moses’s absence.

The verses above are not to point out any significance to the number 40, but to see that God has often used a duration of time similar to that for a spiritual time of testing.  

The men spent a similar time in the land of Canaan. How would they fare in trusting God to be faithful to His promise in giving the land to them?

When all you see are Giants

Let’s look at what they report back to Moses and the people.

Num 13:27-29 “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

We see that their report begins with the fruitful fertile land but soon the focus shifts to the big powerful people in their fortified cities. The report had truth in it, but it was infused with their fear and uncertainty in how they could take over the land. The goodness of the promised land was offset by their fear and their trust in God’s faithfulness in keeping His promise was also offset by their fear.

Be a Caleb

In verse 30 we read Caleb try to silence the others and speaks up Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, we should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

But the other men say

Num 13:31-33 “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Caleb was prepared to walk by faith and not by sight. If we look back at verse 2 when God gives the command to go and explore, we see God use the words ‘they were going to the land that He was giving to the Israelites’. It was a surety that it was theirs, then why did they struggle to believe that it could be theirs.

When all you do is look around and forget to look up, all you end up seeing are the giants? And what happens when all you see are the giants?

Fear creeps in and holds you back from stepping into something God has planned and prepared for you. Fear can be crippling when it comes to exercising your faith.

Fear causes us to doubt, leading us to a place of functioning from unbelief. It leads to a lack of trust in God, it causes us to focus on the problems and the impossibility of the situation and prevents us from taking that step of faith that stands firm on the promise of God.

Is there a challenging situation that you are facing today? Are you seeing only the giants in front of you? Ask God to help you walk by faith and not by sight. This does not mean burying your head in the sand from the reality of the situation around you, but just like God asked the men to explore the land to be best prepared in fighting them. Our preparedness is never meant to factor out our reliance on God who moves on our behalf.

Prayer: Lord, enable us to keep our eyes on you, trusting in your words, your power and your faithfulness. Help us cast away our doubts and fears. Help us to not let what others say in doubt, dictate our trust in you. Help us to be like Caleb and speak truth from a place of trust in your word and strength. May the power of your word/promises help us persevere and walk in faith and not by sight.

God Bless.  

38 thoughts on “The Book of Numbers – When Fear offsets our Trust

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  1. Thanks Manu. This is an encouragement to walk by faith and not let fear hold us back. It’s so true, that fear can keep us from walking into the good things God has for us. He will give us strength to not let fear hold us back and move forward in obedience to do what He has asked us to do. ❤️🙏🏿

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is excellent, Manu. This passage is a great reminder that fear will also alter our perceived identity. I want to be like Joshua and Caleb who trusted in the LORD.

    The other scouts succumbed to fear declaring, “We seemed like grasshoppers in our OWN eyes,” rather than believing and proclaiming their true identity–God’s chosen people!

    God bless you in your diligent study of the Scripture.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The enemy of our souls works by fear and intimidation with shifting shadows. Always like what Rahab told the Israelite spies 40 years later, how all of the occupants of the Promised Land had their hearts melt when they heard what God had done for the Israelites in delivering them from Egypt. Rahab in essence said, “Where have you guys been?” God had taken care of driving out the inhabitants but the Israelites dealt with fear and unbelief in God. So often I let the enemy win with fear and imaginations that are not true and reality. We are much stronger than we think when we live by every word spoken by God.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The enemy does thrive on our fear. I think we all struggle in some area where fear can take hold but as you said living by every spoken word of God, abiding in Him, can give us the strength we need to overcome our fear.
      Blessings 💐🙏🏽

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Actually, 40 days IS significant to our development, not just spiritually. Psychologists note that to break an old habit and begin a new one takes more than a month! I.e., 40 days of ‘practicing’ the new habit! 😉
    Note that someone once wrote, “You don’t break an old habit; you must replace it with a new habit.”
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always thought it took a minimum of 21 days for some change in habits. 40days sounds more effective. I like that saying replace it with a new one. Reminds me of the story in the gospels of the man who had a demon in him but once it was removed the demon found it empty and brought seven others with him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. After commenting, found the quote in my email signatures: “The truth is you don’t break a bad habit. You replace it with a new one.” Dennis Waitley, Developing Winner’s Habits

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This is an encouraging post, Manu. And I appreciate the prayer you included at the end, as it helps magnify truth and faith. If we keep our focus on our fears, they can debilitate us. May we remember to walk by faith and not by sight. This is something that is helpful to remember not just when big problems come our way, but also when small worries creep up. Thank you for the much needed reminder. Blessings, my friend 🦋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Bridget. It is easy for me to get caught up in some fear or anxious thought. I have to be very intentional with taking it all to God. On the plus side it does make me cling to God but it is something I need to always remember- that is to stay focused on Him.
      Blessings my friend 💐💙

      Liked by 1 person

    1. As long as you are growing in your faith, that is what matters. Eyesight- that is the reality as all of us age 😉 our bodies get weak but as we walk with the Lord, our spiritual eyes get sharper.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Fear causes doubt, whereas trust in God, and faith in His promises, allow us to move forward like Caleb.
    As you said, we need to look up, keep our eyes on God, and trust Him. I really enjoyed this post Manu; a great reminder! Cyber hugs, and blessings! 💖💐🌺

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a beautiful reminder, especially in times like this. We can choose to believe what we see and hear, but we can also choose to rest in faith. Thank you for this post, well tied together. I appreciate it so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My younger sister is a Caleb to me. It can be so easy to get caught up in circumstances and fear, so it’s always good to talk to her and hear biblical truth from her. And o try to be a Caleb for my husband when work is tough. I’m so thankful for the various verses in the Bible that we can lean on and where we can find encouragement too. I keep coming back to the one that says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” I’m very thankful for the ways that God encourages our hearts. Blessings, Manu!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a blessing to have someone in your life that will help you have the right perspective on things.
      If God is for us who can be against us- while I was growing up that verse used to be up on the wall in my parents home. Seeing it multiple times a day made me never forget it.
      Thank you my friend and blessings 😊💐💙

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post, may we all find encouragement through the faith Caleb displayed.
    I have the “walk by faith, not by sight” verse hanging in my house, it’s a great reminder to look to Him who is highest, not the giants that only seem enormous. God is greater and bigger than any opposition we experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 😊. It is easy to focus on the giants in our circumstances. But God is indeed greater and bigger and may we always remember that.
      Blessings to you 💐🙏🏽

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Amen. Cast not away your confidence, which has such a great reward. Their lack of faith also resulted in disobedience which was contrary to how Abraham’s faith was counted to him as righteousness. I pray that in this season we will listen to the voice of God and move at his command. There is no need to fear! Bless you. 🙏🏾

    Liked by 1 person

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