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Walking by Fear Instead of Faith

Joshua: Faith & Fear  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  25:45
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The Situation

In order to understand the book of Joshua, one must return to the book of Exodus and the departure of the Hebrew nation from Egypt.
The Israelites entered Egypt after Joseph came to power for helping Potiphar with an interpretation of his dream.
By the time the Exodus came around the situation had changed dramatically for the Israelites.
A new Pharoah had come to power and enslaved them in order to control their growing numbers and power.
After 400 years in Egypt, the Israelites were crying out to their God for deliverance.
God brought Moses out of exile to deliver his people out of bondage in Egypt.
He came and spoke to the Pharoah giving him God’s message to let the enslaved people go free. When he refused, God punished Egypt with the plagues.
Finally after a series of disease and natural disaster destroys the crops and livestock of Egypt, Pharoah gave up and allowed the people of God to leave Egypt.
As Moses led the Israelites away from Egypt, with the Egyptian army in chase, God split the Red Sea allowing His children safe passage to the other side while destroying the army of Egypt in the process.
God pointed the Israelites toward Mount Horeb so that they could get reacquainted with Him and His ways. God gave them the Commandments and reestablished His covenant with them. God also had them build the tabernacle, a portable worship building.
God then pointed them toward the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. This was a land that he had promised their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac (renamed Israel), and Jacob.
Also during this time, the Israelites failed God miserably by worshiping the gods of Egypt and by bickering and complaining the entire way.
During the time the Israelites were traveling, their greatest wish was to return to Egyptian slavery so they could get back to the good life.
God made His people a promise that He would prepare the Promised Land for His people and that they would take the land peacefully. He promised them that He would send an angel before them to drive out the inhabitants of the land.
When the children of God came to Kadesh-barnea at the edge of the land of Canaan, God told them:
Deuteronomy 1:21
Deuteronomy 1:21 NASB95
21 ‘See, the Lord your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’

I. Walking in Fear (Numbers 13:26–33)

But the very next thing they did was begin to doubt God’s ability to prepare the land for their arrival.
Numbers 13:30–33
Numbers 13:30–33 NASB95
30 Then Caleb quieted the people 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 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.”
They were not walking in faith, they were walking in fear.
Here’s the part that we need to understand. Sending in the spies was not God’s idea. It was not Moses’ idea. It was the people’s idea.
The Israelites were expecting to have to fight for the land that God had promised them.
Even though God had told them that He would send an angel before them to drive out all those who occupied the land.
But God’s children didn’t believe him...
So the spies were sent and they brought back reports of how good the land was.
But the spies also reported that there were large cities, well fortified, and filled with strong warriors.
However there were two spies that believed God’s promise to give them the land.
Moses also promised that the Lord would fight on behalf of His people just as he had in Egypt.
But the children of God still doubted. In fact their doubt turned into outright rebellion.
Numbers 14:1–10
Numbers 14:1–10 NASB95
1 Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept 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 prey. Their 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.
God heard this exchange and knew that His people did not trust Him.
This made God angry and he revoked his blessing from an entire generation.
Except for Caleb and Joshua, none of the adults, would enter the Promised Land.
God told them...
Deuteronomy 1:40
Deuteronomy 1:40 NASB95
40 ‘But as for you, turn around and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea.’
He sent them right back to where they had started and exiled them to live out their days in the wilderness.
Even then they tried to argue with God saying “let’s go take the land by force.”
But God warned them off of this plan promising that it would end in defeat.
But they proceeded to be beaten soundly and run off by the inhabitants of the land.
Israel’s failure here illustrates a principle that we must not forget when dealing with God...
PRINCIPLE You will fail to enjoy the good things that God has planned for you when you fail to have faith in Him.
Yet, just like the Israelites many believers today walk by sight rather than faith in God.
There are five sins that walking by sight leads us into:

II. Walking by Sight

Walking by sight is constantly focusing on your circumstances rather than trusting that God will prepare the way for you.
The Five D’s of Walking by Sight
1. Doubt
God’s plan was to deliver His people from Egypt so that they could enjoy the good things of the Promised Land and so that they could unite with Him in the fellowship that He longed for.
There are times when we doubt God and demand our own way that God will allow us some room to go our own way, even if it is not His way. He does this does this to provide us an opportunity to learn a lesson about His ways.
PRINCIPLE Doubting God and refusing to walk by faith is a path that leads to the wilderness.
2. Discouragement
The ten spies (except Caleb and Joshua) were discouraged and made sure that everyone knew it.
They saw the fortified cities and the strong warriors and compared themselves to grasshoppers.
The doubt of the spies spread throughout the camp and turned into unbelief. And unbelief gave birth to open rebellion against God.
PRINCIPLE A faith untested is a faith that shouldn’t be trusted.
The whole purpose of tests and trials in life is to ensure that our faith is placed properly in God and to provide for spiritual growth as we learn to depend more fully on Him.
Our unbelief challenges God’s character and causes us to stand before God in rebellion against His will.
3. Defiance
Wherever unbelief and discouragement are allowed to take root then open defiance is not far away.
That’s exactly what is happening in Numbers 14:1-4:
Their discouragement transformed into open defiance and rebellion against God.
Here’s a life truth for you to remember:
TRUTH When you put your sight on your circumstances, you can lose sight of the big picture and begin to say and do ridiculous things.
Walking by sight —> Doubt —> Unbelief —> Rebellion
4. Deserving of Judgment
A spirit of complaint has no place in God’s will.
Israel’s repeated pride and arrogance tempted God, which led to His judgment and their punishment.
Numbers 14:22-23
Numbers 14:22–23 NASB95
22 “Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, 23 shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it.
Yet Caleb and Joshua, the two spies who believed God would make a way for them were to be allowed to enter the Promised Land in time.
But for the time being all the Israelites were to return to the Red Sea and wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
Numbers 14:29-30
Numbers 14:29–30 NASB95
29 your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. 30 ‘Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.
This was purely the result of grumbling against the Lord...
Numbers 14:27
Numbers 14:27 NASB95
27 “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me.
5. Disobedience
Even as Israel was being judged by God, they continued in their disobedience and refused to leave. They plotted to occupy the Promised Land on their own strength.
In spite of warnings from God that they would not succeed, they pressed forward with their plan and failed miserably.
Repentance would imply that there was a broken of spirit and recognition and remorse for their sin. But there was none of that. There was only arrogance and pride.

III. Walk by Faith, Not by Sight (2 Cor 5:7)

2 Corinthians 5:7
2 Corinthians 5:7 NASB95
7 for we walk by faith, not by sight—
The world mocks us for faith in a God that we cannot see.
But how many of you have seen God at work in your lives?
I know that God exists because I have seen Him work in my life.
I know that God exists because He has answered my prayers.
I know that God exists and I have faith in Him because He has been faithful to me time and time again throughout my life.
Do you know what I do when I begin to doubt that God is going to act on my behalf?
I begin to count the times that He has delivered me from the hand of the evil one.
That’s right, I count my blessings and I name them one by one.
How many of you do the same?
Faith is a spiritual muscle. Without constant exercise it will atrophy and become useless.
But if you exercise that muscle of faith it will grow strong and you will begin to trust God without even knowing what you’re doing.
PRINCIPLE There is no substitute for faith in God’s promises.
FAITH is continuous obedience to God without question no matter what we feel or see or think.
When we have faith and it is a strong faith, it is like an armour around us that the enemy cannot pierce.
We are protected by our faith.
But when we take our eyes off the Father, doubt sets in and our faith can fail.
Joshua and Caleb were men of faith for a people of fear.
Next week, we’ll pick up at the very beginning of the Book of Joshua as we see Moses’ death and Joshua named by the Lord to lead the people of Israel.
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