"What Do You See?!?"

In the search for understanding to gain God’s perspective, I’ve thrown my life into Bible study, prayer, worship and reading. During seasons of study in the early 90’s and 2007, the story of the Israelite’s spying out their promised land (Numb.13) repeatedly grabbed my attention. This narrative provided a constant challenge to my perspectives while confirming some of my own insights.

Remember the story…2 years after crossing the Red Sea, the children of Israel were now at the oasis of Kadesh-barnea. Although only an 11 days journey, God had planned for the Israelites to spend 1 year camping at Mt. Sinai to learn His laws and build the Tabernacle. It was the school of the wilderness that God ordained to remove from them a slavery mentality, worldliness and carnality while producing a new way of life. This life was based on a covenant and new perspectives gained from worshipping a Living God and learning His word and ways. Now, for the 1st time, it appeared an end of their nomadic wanderings was in sight. This scene in their journey was about a 40 day venture by 12 tribal leaders that would test the people’s faith to discover if God’s preparation would effect what they see, say, and decide to do. This intense moment, charged with emotion and expectancy then became dramatically magnified by disagreements among the “spies.” The people would now have to choose to believe a “good report” or a bad one…with life and death, blessing or curse, 40 year consequences.

The writer of Hebrews comments on this story, using the reaction of the spies to this investigation as an illustration of the tendency for the hearts of God’s people to fall short of God’s desire for them. These scriptures warn us to fear lest we come short of a promise given to us…because “the word (good report) preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Heb.4:1-2). None of the 12 spies denied or disagreed with the reports of an “exceedingly good land,” or of the difficulties ahead of them. Their only argument was that it was an impossible situation for them to handle. The poison of fear entered in, and a plague of unbelief quickly spread through the ranks. The facts were accurate, their hearts were off, and so their perspectives and conclusions were wrong! They were calculating without God, and this caused them to mistrust their own abilities rather than trust in the Lord’s. There has been in most generations this tendency in God’s people to draw back from the fullness of the Promise because of the smallness of ourselves or seeming bigness of obstacles and opposition.

George Otis, Jr. wrote of this event, “Of far more importance to God (and this was, of course, His real purpose in sending out spies in the first place) was what else the Hebrew scouts would see in Canaan. The final scorecard? All saw giants; most saw grasshoppers; two saw God.”

This whole scene of scouting out the Promised Land with Caleb and Joshua in faith while others are in fear and unbelief is extremely important to where we are going (as Christians and churches). God desires us to see as HE sees…to have a Biblical Worldview and gain HIS perspective. The “bad report” was factual – correct in its description; but it didn’t take into account God’s promises or power. We must not have a low line of sight, a grasshopper identity or mentality because of intimidation or insecurity. Instead, we must lift up our heads and eyes. We must look at things, and then look again with the eyes of faith. “What else do you see?”…that’s the issue.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the evidence of Things not seen.” With Joshua and Caleb, there was nothing visible or in natural circumstances to convince others of their “good report.” Also, as with most people in the Bible with promises from God, there looked to be much to go through that would be hard and uncomfortable for the flesh. Amazingly, things not seen seemed to matter more to Joshua and Caleb than things seen. We all must look, not just at the seen, but to the Unseen. “For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2Cor.4:18). With spiritual vision we can “endure as seeing HIM who is invisible, Unseen” (Heb.11:27).

How often we find ourselves confronted with an “evil report” that calculates using our inadequacies and intimidating opposition. This tempts us to doubt, fear, and discouragement while bringing an oppressive paralysis, self-pity or even panic. Oswald Chambers asks the question, “Have you been bolstering that stupid soul (self-life) of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God?...(the Israelites did)…all our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.” As Christians, we should take no account of evil, and always bring the Living God in as the greatest factor in all our calculations. If you have heard God’s promise, seen the “good land,” stared at giants, walls and strongmen to the point of personal insecurity or even hopelessness, and can still see God…you are in position for a Divine reversal and generational blessing.

The old Sunday school/camp song sums this up… “12 men went to spy on Canaan, 10 were bad, 2 were good. What do you think they saw in Canaan, 10 were bad, 2 were good. Some saw giants big and strong; some saw grapes with clusters long, some saw God was in it all! 10 were bad and 2 were good.” Remember, all see giants, most see grasshoppers, but few see God. The question of the hour is, “What do you see?!?”

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