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Obedience to God in the Face of Fear

Posted by Pastor Chris Manivannan on

Our Best Thought is a weekly devotional thoughtfully penned by leaders in DUMC arising from their daily devotions. The devotional’s title, “Our Best Thought” is taken from the hymn, “Be Thou My Vision” as a reference to God: “Thou my best thought, by day or by night.” Publishes on Sundays.


Scripture:

At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.

They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “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.”

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.”

Numbers 14:25-30 (NIV)

Observation:

Moses had sent the twelve spies, one from each tribe of Israel, into the land God had promised. He asked them to recce the place and to bring some of the fruit of the land. This would help them assess the situation of the people of the land they were to conquer, and to know how fertile was the land.

At the end of the forty days, the spies returned to report their findings and brought back the fruit of the land. The visible evidence of the fruit of the land showed that the land was a land that flowing with milk and honey. This was the land promised by Yahweh when the people were led out from Egypt.

Although there was substantial evidence that the land was indeed what was promised by Yahweh, the residents of the land were bigger and stronger. The spies, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, felt like grasshoppers compared to the residents of the land. While they saw the promise of God, they also saw the challenge of inheriting the promise of God.

What was remarkable was that Caleb and Joshua saw and experienced the very same things as other ten—but had a completely different response. Caleb and Joshua demonstrated complete trust in God and took God at his word. Both of them had full trust in God’s faithfulness, compared to their peers. Their faith rested not on what they saw but on what God had promised their forefathers. Caleb and Joshua also submitted to the leadership of Moses, who also said that the God of their forefathers would fight for them just as He did in Egypt.

Application:

We are asked to remember God’s faithfulness through obeying His commands. It is not uncommon for us to have fear blocking us from realising the promises of God. When that happens, we need to go back to the Word of God. Fear is the enemy of obedience. Fear will lead us to disobedience that will end up in punishment.

Later on in the story, the Israelites would appeal to God not to enter into the Land, to preserve their wives and the next generation:

“Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

Numbers 14:3 

In response, God forbade them from entering the Promised Land:

“Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. 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.’ I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this wilderness; here they will die.”

Numbers 14:30-35

The Israelites lost one generation in the wilderness with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. The generation that gave the reasons of protecting the next generation from destruction, God gave the joy to that very next generation to inherit the Promised Land. What an irony! Therefore, let us not walk in fear instead walk in faith and trust in God’s faithfulness. When we do that, we enjoy God’s blessings and able to lay hold of the inheritance that God has promised us. Remember the warning of disobedience which leads to punishment.

Response:

Lord Jesus, I seek Your forgiveness for the times I have not totally obeyed You. I am sorry for the lack of trust and faith to lay hold of Your promises in my life because of fear. I realise fear leads to disobedience that leads to punishment. Have mercy, Lord! Grant me the faith of Joshua and Caleb, trusting you even in the most challenging times when the odds seem to be against them. I pray that I shall walk in total obedience to overcome fear, trusting You all the way. Amen.


Pastor Chris Manivannan is Head of Ministry of Forerunners prayer ministry.

Our Best Thought is a weekly devotional that follows DUMC's Bible Reading Plan. Posts on Sundays.