The “Power” Series #2



TEXT:         Numbers 13:26-14:45


INTRO:       Around the year 1640 a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America to establish a new colony.  The first year they established the town site, the next year they elected a town government; the third year the town government planned to build a road 5 miles westward into the wilderness from the town.  In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their own government be­cause they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road 5 miles west­ward from town ... who ever needed to travel west?  These are the same people who felt the need to travel 3 thousand miles west over the ocean to build their vision of something new and different ... but they couldn't have enough vision to build a road 5 miles west of their new town ... not believing anything west could ever happen!  Their pioneering vision had stopped with their own dream.


Nothing is as powerful as "vision!"  Even our brains at night produce several visions we call dreams ... if you don't dream you will lose touch with reality ... or at best become quite irritable and touchy ... vision is the most profound sense we have, it is estimated that almost 80-90% of all our knowledge comes through our sense of vision.


Spiritual vision is also a major part of our walk with God!


PROP. SENT:   The Bible will teach us that how we view the things of life will have an enormous impact on our soul, more so than what we view; people can see the same thing but conclude different messages ... because it is not WHAT we see that matters the most but HOW we see it!


I.   EVIDENCE!  ("Seeing is Believing!")   Num. 13:26-30


A.   Wow!     Num. 13:26-27

1.   This is the story of the 12 spies sent out by Moses to check out the Promise Land ... it had been about 3 years since they left Egypt ... now they are ready to enter the Promise Land.

a.   A plan to send 12 spies (1 from each tribe) to give a report to the people.

b.   It was assumed the spies would return with a good report: "When you come back bring some of the fruit."

c.   The plan was meant to build excitement for the people!

2.   The report was accurate on the fruitfulness and the beauty of the land!

3.   The cluster of grapes gave ample evidence of God's blessings and promises being even better than could have been imagined!

4.   Such will be heaven, our Promise Land ... better than we can imagine!

5.   The spies allowed the people to have a glimpse of what is to be theirs!

a.   Jesus became a glimpse for us of what our heavenly bodies will be like.

b.   Jesus' post-resurrection appearances only wet our appetites for heaven!

6.   The final report on the land and its fruitfulness was an astounding “WOW!”


B.   Worry!   Num. 13:28-29

1.   While they saw the fruitfulness of the land ok, they also saw the power of the enemy as overwhelming!

2.   They clearly saw how big the fruit was in the land... and how big the enemy was, but failed to see how big their God was!

3.   Like Israel during King Saul's reign, they saw Goliath as a giant opposition, while David saw Goliath as a giant opportunity!

a.   They saw the same thing ... but viewed the same thing differently!

b.   Perspective is critical to successful Christian living!

c.   It is not a denial of reality ... just redefining it in the context of a BIG God!

4.   If you have a big God you have small problems, but if you have a small God you have big problems!

5.   "Seeing is believing!"

6.   But it depends on the angle of our view!!!!


ILLUS:        In Northern Burma years ago a translation team had given the Bible to a people in the Lisu language and left a young man in charge to teach the people how to read the language and the Bible.  Because of the few copies he had, 4 men sat around a table to have them read from the Bible.  After 6 months an observer came back and noticed something interesting.  Each day the same men sat in the same position around the table read the Bible.  One day when the order was changed confusion reigned ... the men had learned to read the language and letters from the position they sat around the table in!  The guy at the top of the table learned the language upside down ... he couldn't read from the bottom of the table ... the guys on the side each read the words from their vantage point, not capable of reading from the left side of the table from sitting always on the right ... their perspective had created for them their sense of "correct" angle!  We need to view life from God's angle or the view may be overwhelming at times! – Source Unknown


7.   The angle of 10 of these 12 spies was clearly evidenced by "AND WE ARE GRASSHOPPERS IN OUR EYES ... AND IN THEIRS!"  Num. 13:33

8.   Their angle destroyed their faith in God's ability!

9.   Anxiety struck deep!


C.   Whole-hearted    Num. 13:30

1.   Caleb and Joshua however had a whole different angle on the enemy!  They looked at the enemy through their vision of God ... this made the enemy look like an easy target and made them feel invincible through God!

2.   Their approach was simple ... "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."

a.   There is no doubt in their minds.

b.   They saw the same reality ... but with a different twist!

c.   The greatest self-confidence lies in a living relationship with Jesus Christ!

(1.   Because with God we are not limited to only our self!

(2.   Because all things are possible for God ... with Him in our lives, all things are possible for us as well!

3.   They certainly had a different way of looking at the problem!


ILLUS:       The very successful Broadway star of "THE PIANO LESSON" Charles Dutton seems like an unlikely man for such success.  He was imprisoned for many years for manslaughter ... when asked how he had escaped the usual tragic scars of prison on his life he gave this response:  "Unlike the other prisoners, I never decorated my cell" ... Dutton had resolved never to regard his cell as home! – Source Unknown


II.  EXPECTATIONS  ("What you see is what you get!")   Num. 13:31-14:4


A.   Wimps!    Num. 13:31-33

1.   With God's power and reality absent from the equation they could only see themselves as powerless.

2.   It was bad enough that they felt this way ... but they spread their opinion all through the camp... they were leaders so their influence was even stronger!

a.   These cannot be thought of as evil men bent on Israel's destruction.

b.   They had come through many years of seeing God's hand on them already.

c.   The fact that they were chosen by Moses in the first place gives some indication of their status and trustworthiness ... Moses wouldn't have likely chosen them if he knew they would bring back a bad report!

d.   Even good people can lose perspective at times ... we need to always be on our guard to check our VISION!


ILLUS:      How could you go through life without having your vision checked by eye doctors?  We often have our vision checked ... especially as we age because subtle and not so subtle changes require corrective measures to keep our vision clear.  This is true spiritually as well!  -- Dennis Marquardt


3.   The more they stated the facts as they saw them the worse they saw them­selves; "we are grasshoppers in OUR eyes and in theirs too."

a.   Ironically, each repeat of the "bad report" gets a little worse...

b.   AND more detail is added with each repetition; for the worse!

4.   As much as we don't like to admit it ... fear creates spiritual wimps!

5.   These normally solid leaders had made a mess in the making!

6.   EXAGGERATION is the fruit of poor vision!  Num. 13:31

a.   "They are much stronger than we are."

b.   "The land devours the people living in it." (As though the desert didn't!)

c.   "All the people we saw are of great size."

d.   “We saw the Nephilim” ... ie. GIANT HUMANS ... THE "BIG FEET" OF THE MIDDLE EAST!

e.   "We are just insects compared to them ... even they know this!"

f.    The irony of these statements:

(1.   "They are much stronger than we are." -- This was not proven yet, they hadn't crossed to confront them yet!

(2.   "The land devours the people living in it." -- If it did then why have all these people prospered so much?  Plus they brought back the huge sized fruit as evidence that this was not true!

(3.   "All the people we saw are of great size." -- Might be some truth to this one, but it is unlikely they visited every spot before they returned.

(4.   “We saw the Nephilim” -- This might be at least accurate to some degree, there were people of large size living there at the time.

(5.   "We are just insects compared to them ... even they know this!" -- If they leave God out of the equation the first part would appear correct; however God had been with them coming out of Egypt and given them victory over the desert so far ... and the later part was likely NOT true since they had entered as spies and it was not likely an opinion of the Israelites had taken hold in the land yet, not likely that the natives would think already that they were nothing but tiny insects compared to the them!  This was just plain exaggeration!


B.   Whiny!   Num. 14:1-4

1.   Over-exaggeration breeds over-reactions!

a.   That night ... all night, the people wept together!

b.   You can just see them all sitting around the campfires crying together on how miserable their lives were!

c.   This was probably the biggest "pity" party on record!

2.   Of course self-pity leads to complaining about others!

a.   Moses and Aaron are targets in the first degree!

b.   Somebody has to be blamed ... it must have been their leaders who brought them there in the first place, so they are blamed!

c.   It didn't matter that they had followed willingly!

d.   It didn't matter that Egypt had nearly destroyed them ... their life in the desert was far better than the slavery in Egypt!

e.   They conveniently forgot how God had defeated the Egyptians, etc.

3.   This happens with some Christians who go through trials today ... they allow self-pity to lead them in complaining about other Christians; and they forget that though being a Christian is sometimes tough -- their former life of sin had more anguish in it than their present life with Christ ... at least now they have purpose for things and a sense of direction with meaning, and they had God's promises!

4.   The overreaction continues: They wish they had died in the dessert now!  Oddly ... GOD IS GOING TO GIVE THEM THAT WISH SOON -- this entire older generation WILL die in the desert!

5.   They try softening the look over their whiny hearts by hiding their anger in a disguise of concern for the innocent women and children that came with them!

a.   This is a common ploy of whining ... when confronted with the obvious poor spirit they deflect the truth of their own whining by sounding like they are so concerned about someone else!

b.   One does not get over self-pity until one acknowledges it exists without a good excuse!

6.   Final stage of whining:  Let's get new leaders who will REALLY know how to minister to us ... someone who can take us back to good old EGYPT!”


ILLUS:        How strange to see Egypt as paradise!  They saw what they wanted only to see!  Like the woman who was extremely overweight: one day she got on a scales with a chart for proper height and weight while with her husband.  She stepped off without a comment, her husband however piped in, "A little overweight huh dear?" "No NO!" came her reply, "My weight is fine, but according to the chart I should be about 6 inches taller!" – Source Unknown


III.  EQUILIBRIUM  ("a sight for sore eyes!")  Num. 14:5-19


A.   Warning!   Num. 14:5-9

1.   Drastic reactions from the people required a drastic reaction from Moses!

a.   Moses and Aaron fell facedown to demonstrate their heaviness over the people's sin!

b.   They also tore their robes ... a very clear signal that something critical is wrong!

2.   The leaders on the right path joined forces in this display ... a united front of conviction was required for any hopes of equilibrium to be restored!

3.   They attempt to use logic and the obvious stories of God's faithfulness in the past as influence.

4.   Their appeal is to reason and to faith ... not one over the other; however, faith gives the logic to reason!

5.   Moses repeats the agreed upon vision of what the land was like ... no difference of opinion on the fruitfulness of the land ... just on how they viewed their ability to gain control of it!

6.   Now Moses sounds the real issue: "rebellion because of their unbelief in God."

a.   The issues are clear:

(1.   Unbelief!

(2.   Fear!

b.   We are responsible for our reactions in life!

c.   Moses was sounding a warning ... "It matters how we choose to respond to life's troubles!"

d.   FORGIVENESS AND CONSEQUENCES are 2 separate issues!

7.   Later we find God's willingness to forgive these people in response to Moses' intercessory prayer ... yet the consequences of their choices will impact their entire life ... we need to understand this truth!

a.   Too many Christians take sin too casually ... telling themselves they can always be forgiven ... yes, but don't forget about consequences which can continue past forgiveness!

b.   The Bible is full of examples of these twin truths:  DAVID ... ADAM & EVE ... LOT ...  AND MOSES! (And there are many others in the Bible as well!)


B.   Weary!     Num. 14:10-12

1.   Warning Israel only made them madder at Moses ... don't be surprised if when confronting someone wallowing in self-pity if they get mad at you!

2.   It is important however to note that Moses heard from God ... that their anger though directed at Moses was clearly an issue against God ... by God's own Word here!  Num. 14:11

3.   God demonstrates a type of weariness with the constant abuse of faith!

a.   Surely this was somewhat of a test for Moses.

b.   God was using these circumstances to encourage Moses' shepherding instincts!

c.   Thus giving Moses the privilege to feel the nurturing nature of God Himself!

4.   It is tough to press on in a fog ... but we must!


ILLUS:       Florence Chadwick the long distance swimmer in 1952 gave up during a fog for a long-distance record swim from Catalina Island to the California coast.  After 15 hours in cold-numbing water and several shark attacks she finally quit, against her coaches coaxing.  When the fog cleared she discovered she quit just a little over 2,000 feet from shore! – Source Unknown


C.   Worshiper   Num. 14:13-19

1.   What a contrast the picture of Moses presents against the backdrop of the people!

a.   While the people were only concerned over their own wants...

b.   Moses is concerned about God's reputation ... not even his own!

2.   It is easy to see now why God chose Moses ... even in his mistakes there was a proper vision deep within Moses' heart about God!

3.   When we see God correctly all things are possible!

4.   Moses appeals to the Lord’s character in his intercession for their sins, this is the heart of the worshiper!


IV.   EDUCATION  ("No vision the people perish!")  Num. 14:20-45


A.   Wandering    Num. 14:20-25

1.   While clearly forgiven, the consequences of their unbelief will take its toll!

2.   Why the consequences?  They became a teaching tool for future generations to tell us that sin can have devastating consequences on our lives even though forgiveness is a reality!

3.   It will act as a lighthouse for future generations that certain paths have the real possibilities of causing shipwreck, though we might survive the storm!

a.   It is a real warning against LOSS!

b.   Sin brings real losses ... we must understand the nature of sin!

4.   Their cost for this indulgence into self-pity and unbelief?

a.   37 more years of wandering around in a desert ... no sense of direction for their lives!


ILLUS:        It is said that Dr. Mortimer Adler suddenly left a discussion group at a tea quite disgusted, slamming the door after him.  One person trying to relieve the tension, remarked, "Well, he's gone."  To this the hostess replied, "No, he isn't.  That's a closet!" We share the same plight when we attempt to rush from God's presence.  We are confined to ourselves. -- Myron S. Augsburger, When Reason Fails.  Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 9.


b.   They will die in the very place they complained in!

c.   They lost the right to embrace the fruit of the new land ... it will only continue to be a dream for them ... a reality only for their children!

d.   Their life would not be the same ... the loss was real for them!


B.   Waste!    Num. 14:26-38

1.   The very things they complained about became their reality!

a.   They complained about dying in the desert ... and so they did!

b.   They complained they couldn't occupy the Promise Land ... and they didn't!

c.   They complained they were too weak to go against the enemy ... they were!

d.   They complained their children would suffer ... they did for 37 more years!

e.   They were afraid their women would suffer ... and so they did, for their own unfaithfulness their family experienced some pain too!

2.   Sin takes a tragic toll on people's lives ... and it impacts others as well.

a.   Divorce hurts the kids, not just the adults.

b.   The consequences of sins can have multiple effects ... we need to remember this when we are tempted to view sin as some minor problem in life ... some­ things we can always find forgiveness for don’t just disappear so easily when it comes to consequences!

3.   How much better NOT to sin and avoid even the consequences!!!  This is the up-side to righteousness.  We can escape even sin’s consequences by wise and godly choices now and save our children and other people whose lives are impacted from the pain of our sins!


C.   Wayward!   Num. 14:39-45

1.   The greatest tragedy of this story now unfolds, instead of learning from the painful situation they choose to rebel even further!

a.   They decide they won't accept God's call for consequences ... now they will go into the Promise Land in spite of God's call for them not too!

b.   They presume they can alter God's plans whenever it suits them!

2.   This wayward attitude only confirms God's sense of justice on their sins ... they still do not view God properly or themselves!


ILLUS:        Like the white mouse a man purchased to feed his pet snake.  After dropping the mouse in the snake's cage the mouse immediately sensed the danger of his situation.  Seeing the snake the mouse immediately began kicking sawdust on top of the snake until the snake was completely hidden under it.  With the snake covered the mouse began to relax and run around thinking that by covering the snake he was no longer there ... what a surprise awaited the ignorant mouse!  How like this some people are ... they think if they can just cover over their sins that that will take care of the problem ... the only way to be safe however, is to have the snake killed ... crushed by the heel of the Son of God!  Getting out of the tank with the snake is the only safe remedy! – Source Unknown


3.   How Israel chose to see things is how they reacted and how they lived!  Does it make a difference how we perceive things!  YES -- ABSOLUTELY!


CONCLUSION:   It's not so much WHAT we see that shapes our life as much as it is HOW we see things!  Saul's men saw in Goliath a giant opposition ... David saw a giant opportunity; their actions were based on HOW they saw Goliath and God!  How has your vision been lately?