In my reading through the Word, I saw some beneficial applications for us as a body. Also, any time I write an email I try to have this in mind (quoting Bruce Ware) “for all that misses the mark, I pray for his forgiveness and correction. God alone is worthy, and so to him be all praise and worship, both now and forevermore.”
When I read Number 13 and 14, I did not readily relate the result of the report of the spies as discouragement. I didn’t see this until Numbers 32 when Reuben and Gad want to settle in Gilead and Moses recounts what happened some 40 years prior to this event. Moses says, (Numbers 32:6-9) “Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? 7 Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the LORD has given them? 8 Your fathers did this, when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. 9 For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the people of Israel from going into the land that the LORD had given them.”
As before, I did not relate this discouragement to unbelief as Moses does in Dt. 1:32. Moses recounts the story again but says, (Deuteronomy 1:25-33) 25 And they took in their hands some of the fruit of the land and brought it down to us, and brought us word again and said, ‘It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us.’ 26 ¶ “Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. 27 And you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the LORD hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. 28 Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.”‘ 29 Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. 30 The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, 31 and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ 32 Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the LORD your God, 33 who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go.”
The author of Hebrews writes concerning these events: Hebrews 3:19 – 4:2 9 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. ¶ Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.
Hebrews 3:12-13 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
There are numerous things that could be pointed out but allow me to mention a few.
1. These things are written for our instruction. Rom. 15:4
2. They are written in the context of the community
3. We may be tempted to think discouragement as a small thing but it is not a small thing–especially within the common-unity
4. In the context of the story, the spies told the TRUTH about what they saw. It was their absence of faith that discouraged the people. Therefore, you can look truthfully at a situation and see the possible discouragement within the situation. However, you can acknowledge that and decide to trust Christ with the situation. We see from this text that He can be trusted and He will fight for us.
5. Discouragement can lead to rebellion and rebellion to unbelief which results in not entering His rest.
6. The leadership needs to be encouraged (Dt. 1:38) for they are susceptible to many more dangers (Mt 23) and stricter judgment (Jam 3)
Therefore, stop right now (if you are able) and pray to the Lord asking Him to guard our leaders from discouragement and think seriously how you might contact every member of our churches (and others too!) and encourage them in some way.This is not to say no one is encouraging one another. Nor do I mean for us to do it in some Pollyanna way. But may this become the norm with us all in Christ’s church–not just a challenge this week. I would also add that we try not to be easily discouraged ourselves. There are some things that ARE discouraging. And there are some things that we should not let discourage us. O LORD bear the fruit of encouragement in our lives through the Gospel! Romans 15:5-6 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.