Fear at the unknown

Fear. Terror. Failure. Pain. Vulnerability.  These words, these emotions, resonate within us and around us whenever we start to try something new.  We see it when we start new jobs, move to new towns, start going to new churches, move into new social circles.  Sometimes the fear is palatable.  Sometimes, it is barely there.  This happens to every one of us.  Every single one of us.  No one, ever, has been immune.  Every way, and in each situation, the root is always the same.  The root is doubt and it is as true today as it was thousands of years ago.

Have you ever wondered at the audacity of the ancient Israelites to reject God’s goodness as He urged them into the Promised Land and their absolute terror at what they found?  As a reminder, they had just seen God had perform all sorts of miracles, feed them in the desert from Heaven, deliver them from bondage in Egypt, part the Red Sea, and descend upon Mount Sinai.  They saw wonders imaginable.  Yet, they still shied away from following God.

Let’s set the stage here…the Israelites had just left Egypt in the most spectacular fashion possible. God had delivered them from bondage and the Egyptians had essentially thrown wealth at them when they left.  The Israelites, after a few false starts and bumps (some bumps where kind of big), arrived at the Promised Land.  God told them to send 10 spies in to check the place out.  He had told them that it was theirs and that He would be giving it to them to prosper them.  So, they sent the spies in and when the spies came back, they were carrying grapes so huge they had to sling them on poles carried between 2 men.   The initial report was very promising.  They said the place overflowed with milk and honey.  It was paradise.  Then they dropped the bad news. It was infested with giants.  In their words, “…The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people there are of great size…we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.” [Numbers 13:32,33]

Numbers tells us that 8 of the spies spread such a bad report that the Israelites were afraid and refused to enter into paradise.  They were so afraid that they didn’t want to enter the Promised Land and God had to send the people into the desert for 40 years so that they would learn to lean on Him.

Every person, but 2, died in the desert without entering the Promised Land because they gave in to their fear and doubted God’s goodness and holiness.

So, what separated the 2 from the rest?  Numbers tells us that Joshua and Caleb stood strong in the Lord and defended His cause.  They TRUSTED God.  Let me re-ask my question.  What happened to these 2 men to make them trust God when their fellows couldn’t?

I think the answer lies in Exodus 33:7-11.  Moses had an aid; Joshua, son of Nun.  Joshua would accompany Moses to the Tent of Meeting, where God would descend into the tent and converse with Moses “as a man speaks with a friend”.  This passage also tells us that Joshua was with Moses during these meetings while the rest of the Israelites stood at the entrance of their tents and worshipped God from afar.

Moses didn’t enter the Promised Land because he failed to uphold Gods holiness before the people.  However, the people didn’t enter the Promised Land because they didn’t trust God.  Except…Joshua.  He entered the Promised Land BECAUSE he trusted God.  I propose that he trusted God because he had firsthand experience with Him. As an aid, he would have talked with Moses and God. He would have observed, and learned, and learned to trust God.  He would have had a personal relationship with God.

So, how do you combat fear?  How do you combat doubt?  With trust. With a relationship with God, with Jesus.  Jesus says that He is the way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father but through Him.  Jesus is also the Light of the world.  He drives out the darkness of doubt and fear before Him.  Why? Because He loves us.  He wants a personal relationship with each of us.  It is in that personal relationship where we discover that God and Jesus can be trusted and that fear and doubt have no hold over us.

Is there still fear?  YES.  Is God there? YES. Will our doubts and fears win?  If you trust in Jesus, then NO!  He was victorious on the cross and is victorious today.  All you have to do is trust Him.  Will you be like Joshua or the rest of the Israelites?

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