Wednesday, August 21, 2013

This week's lesson: discernment

It's not always a good idea to "step out in faith."

Consider the first attempt to invade Canaan -- the one we read about Number 14:40ff.
  • Already, the spies have brought back their reports of the Promised Land.
  • Already, God's people have concluded from those reports that it's impossible for them to enter the Promised Land.
  • And already, Moses has said their lack of faith will keep them out of the Promised Land; instead, they will die in the Wilderness.
But God's people did not accept their fate; they refused to give in to negative thinking. No, they "stepped out in faith" -- and paid the price.
Early the next morning they set out for the highest point in the hill country, saying, “Now we are ready to go up to the land the Lord promised. Surely we have sinned!”

But Moses said, “Why are you disobeying the Lord’s command? This will not succeed! Do not go up, because the Lord is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, for the Amalekites and the Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the Lord, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.”

Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the highest point in the hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord’s covenant moved from the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah (Numbers 14:40-45, NIV).
In short, faith gives us the courage to follow God -- but it is not enough to guarantee that we are following God. No, faith is good. Zeal is good. Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing.

But just like those Israelites, we still need to watch our step.

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