Two years ago during a focused season of prayer for my children, God graciously gave and confirmed a specific promise to me concerning them. Lately, though, I’ve treaded dangerous ground. My thoughts, feelings, words, and actions haven’t been affirming that I truly believe what God said. What I had passed off as being an emotional female was actually masking the much deeper and more problematic issue of unbelief.
This all came to light Friday morning during my priority time in Numbers 14. Moses had sent 12 spies to explore the land of Canaan, the land that God had promised on oath to give His people. When they returned, 10 of the 12 spies brought back a report that the people living in the land were much too powerful, and their cities too large and fortified, for the Israelites to successfully take possession of it. The other two spies, Joshua and Caleb, disagreed and encouraged the people to believe in God’s power to fulfill His promise.
The Israelites’ response is a lot like mine has been lately. Their feelings, words, and actions confirmed their lack of faith. First, they raised their voices and wept aloud. I’m definitely not saying that negative emotion is wrong! Their emotion, though, was the result of unchecked thoughts that were contrary to God’s promise. God had told them that they would inherit the land, but they were weeping as if the people of the land would destroy them. Their negative emotion, in this instance, was the symptom of unbelief.
In addition to weeping, they also began to speak out loud what was contrary to God’s promise. In verse 3 they said, “Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder.” The scripture says, “We believe, therefore we speak” (2 Cor. 4:13). What comes out of our mouths is an indication of what we believe in our hearts. It was obvious from the Israelites’ words that they didn’t truly believe that God would keep His promise.
Their beliefs, feelings, and speech led them to the final sins of contempt towards God and rebellion. They conspired to return to Egypt against God’s will and threatened to stone the two men that actually desired to wholeheartedly follow God.
The consequence of their lack of faith in God’s promise is sobering. Although God forgave them, He didn’t leave them unpunished; He made an oath that not one of the unbelieving Israelites would ever experience the promise fulfilled. Oh, God still kept His promise. He cannot lie. But they were not able to see the promise come to fruition.
When we’ve undeniably heard a promise from God, we have a serious responsibility to think, speak, and act as if what He said is true. These choices have consequences- for blessing or curse. Are your thoughts in alignment with God’s promise? Are you speaking words that confirm what He has said or words that reveal unbelief? Are your actions showing that you trust God is able to accomplish what He has promised?
For me, the answer was painfully clear; it was a direct warning to change my mind and turn back to faith. I’ve asked God to show me ways to persevere in belief, and I’ll share with you on my next blog some scriptures He has laid on my heart for that. Hopefully they’ll help you, too, if you’re in a similar season.
Here’s a verse that sums it up- a loving warning from a Father who wants us to choose the blessing.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ 11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’ 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.”