The Book of Numbers – When Unbelief Blinds

At the end of chapter 13 we saw that out of the 12 spies who went to explore the promised land, only two, Caleb and Joshua came back with confidence that God would carry out His promise to give them the land. The rest of the ten, doubted and spread fear among the people.

A wildfire of Unbelief

The result of that bad report led the people to grumble. That small spark of fear and doubt created a forest fire of unbelief.

Num 14:1-4 “That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Luke 6:45 cautions us that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. It did not take long for them to doubt God, that very night they complained. At the root of their grumbling was unbelief. 

For us: We might think, how can they doubt so easily, Israel had experienced the ten plagues, the parting of the red sea, provision of manna, and yet each time the circumstances feel difficult, they grumble.

But what about you and I? It is easy to see the fault in the Israelites, but where are we falling short when it comes to trusting God and how often do we slip into grumbling? 

Fear can erode our faith. It is commonly said that Faith is the antidote to fear. An antidote is used to counteract something poisonous or unpleasant. And the antidote has to be powerful enough to counteract whatever poison is consumed.

Do not let fear diminish your faith. The strength in our faith does not come from us, but in who our faith rests on. But we do play a part in strengthening our Faith. Faith comes from hearing the word of God. Meditating and hiding the word in our heart helps us trust God to tackle the giants in front of us and stay focused on him, reminding ourselves that God is bigger and more powerful than anything.

A Disillusioned perception

The people said, it would be better if they could go back to Egypt. Their lack of trust in God disillusioned them into thinking that their life of enslavement was better that stepping into God’s promise for them.

For us: Fear and doubt can hold us back in so many ways. What is God calling you to trust Him with, it might feel scary but do not let the enemy fool you into thinking that you are better off not following where God wants to lead you.

The people wanted to choose a new leader to go back to Egypt. They probably knew Moses would in no way go against God and therefore he was not meeting their wants.

2 Timothy 4:3 says “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears and they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”

For us: God’s word is not to be sifted according to our desires and wants. Following God in obedience may not always be easy, but if we are being challenged then we also know that we are being transformed.

Source of Caleb and Joshua’s Courage

Hearing the people, Moses and Aaron fall to the ground and Caleb and Joshua tear their clothes and share words of encouragement.

Num 14: 8-10 “If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them. But the whole assembly talked about stoning them.”

Caleb and Joshua reveal their faith and the source of their courage and strength to believe. It was their words ‘the Lord is with us’ that made all the difference for them.

For us: And I hope that truth does the same for you too. Whatever you may be facing now, may the knowledge that the Lord is with you bolster your faith to walk through it with strength and courage that comes from His presence and power with you.

A Forty-year Sentence

The words of Caleb and Joshua do not change the people’s attitude, instead they talk about stoning them.

God’s glory appears over the tent of meeting, and He is angry. He speaks with Moses and says in verses 11-12, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them.”

Moses prays. He understood that the people deserve God’s wrath, but he appeals to God’s nature and His name.

Num 14:18 “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.”

God listens and forgives but he will not be mocked by the people.  Not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.” (Verse 23).  Except for Caleb and Joshua, none would enter the promised land.

In Num 14: 34 God says, “For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.”

The two years of disciplining in the desert becomes 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.

This lesson is a sobering one. We might think, the Israelites after witnessing mighty miracles would believe. The Pharisees did not believe in Jesus even though they witnessed his works, but scripture also tells that many did believe when Jesus performed miracles.

We might think that God’s presence with them, manifesting in the cloud and fire at night would be compelling enough to trust. Judas Iscariot walked closely with Jesus as one of his disciples, but his heart was not changed but we also read of the rest of the disciples who gave their lives sharing and serving Jesus.

Lord, open our spiritual eyes and hearts to your word and works. May your presence in our life not be without effect. May we not be quick to lack trust in you God when things get difficult, or disregard what it means to have you with us. May our faith be bolstered by your faithful presence with us. May our hearts, desire to be obedient to you, trusting who you are, faithful and all powerful.

God Bless.

24 thoughts on “The Book of Numbers – When Unbelief Blinds

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  1. I like this thought, “if we are being challenged then we also know that we are being transformed.” It’s so true, everything God calls us to do will not be easy but by faith we have to trust Him to provide our needs to do what He calls us to do. The challenges help us to grow. And thanks also for the reminder that we have to be careful that we are not grumbling like the Israelites. It’s easy to point fingers at others but when we look at ourselves we can find out we’re not much different at times.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Manu, this is a powerful reminder to choose faith over fear. We each will face difficulties in life, and fear might be a natural response. But we can choose faith, especially when we have allowed the presence of the Lord to change us, as you mentioned. Walking beside Jesus on a daily basis will help us to fix our eyes on Him and not on our circumstances. Thank you for this! Have a good weekend, my friend! 🦋

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I loved how you said that a small spark of fear becomes a wildfire of unbelief. Very true.

    Sometimes we have a real reason to fear, the giants Infront of us can be very real and scary…Like a financial crisis we don’t know how to get out of…A doctor’s diagnosis that feels like a death sentence. A relational crisis that is threatening to tear our lives apart, or something God has called us to do that feels like we have to walk on water to do it…We can have a reasonable reason to be afraid, however, as you have pointed out, we can choose courage because even in the midst of those daunting situations, we always have His faithful presence with us…Carrying us, lifting us, empowering us,enabling us to face those giants with unwavering faith until we conquer them.

    May He help us face the giants infront of us and may we stand firm in faith until we see them fall!

    Very blessed and encouraged Manu!💝

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree Lucy. We have genuine reasons to fear and I think it requires us to continually take those feelings to the Lord Or else we would succumb to the fear instead of keeping our eyes on God.
      Thank you Lucy and have a wonderful weekend 💙💐

      Liked by 2 people

  4. “But what about you and I? It is easy to see the fault in the Israelites, but where are we falling short when it comes to trusting God…”
    So many people seem to think, if God would just “prove” Himself to me, then I could “believe.” But Father knows this lie too well to entertain those who will not believe… “neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
    He DID, and some still will not believe.
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Hello Manu, I totally agree with the fact that fear can erode our faith. In addition, fear and doubt can hold us back in so many ways. This is so true; I’ve often found fear debilitating; one cannot act. God bless you!
    Thank you for this deep reflection.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Fear can indeed be debilitating and that is why it is so important to take those emotions to the Lord so we can recalibrate our perspective and that God is with us.
      Thank you Heather 💙💐🙏🏽


  6. Amen. I think we all can sometimes be like the Israelites, not trusting God because we can’t see the way ahead. We depend on our own eyes, mind and sight. We not only forget about the good things that God has already accomplished in our lives, but we also forget entirely about Faith…. faith requires trust. It requires action, momentum, commitment, endurance… it requires that we give it to God, but we don’t always do that initially. So thankfully God us quick to remind us and once again prove that He is with us when he comes through for us in a pinch. 🙂 It doesn’t mean that tomorrow we won’t have more trouble, but it does mean that we can be sure He won’t let go of us. ❤ Thanks for the thought provoking post Manu. Have a wonderful week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, faith requires trust and intended action. We all do struggle to trust at times but like you said God wonderfully reminds us to place our trust in Him. May we listen to his voice and trust in his nature.
      Thank you Tina 💙💐


    1. From what I gather it happens a lot over there for you and to some extent over here too. Have definitely lost trust in the news, it is not just stating events but everything has an opinion which is biased based on which channel we watch. I have cut down how much of news I watch, it seems to only send me into worry and anxiety.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Greatly inspiring as always Manu. “the knowledge that the Lord is with you bolster your faith to walk through it with strength and courage that comes from His presence and power with you.” This is my current conviction and I have learnt that seasons of trials requires constant saturation in the word to increase faith and drown our fear. Bless you. ❤️💗

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “The result of that bad report led the people to grumble. That small spark of fear and doubt created a forest fire of unbelief.” Beware of Forest Fires 🔥 This is a reminder that we must not be yoked with unbelievers! They will lock their heels up; in doubt and belief and hinder all forward movement and spiritual progress! Thanks for sharing this, Manu…I love Joshua and Caleb’s ‘different’ spirits!!💕

    Liked by 1 person

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