Pastor Dan Borgelt
“We’re talking about this series called Faith Over Fear… and two weeks ago when we started off this series by saying that, although the Bible talks a lot about not being afraid, the Bible does talk about this idea of being afraid when it comes to the idea of the proper fear of the Lord.
And it’s only when we get into right relationship with God and have the proper fear of the Lord that He begins to drive out the rest of our fear in other circumstances in life.
And then last week we looked at this passage of Scripture from the Book of Daniel where we saw these three famous guys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; we looked at them and saw that sometimes God calls his people to act counterculturally even though they might be afraid of the consequences of doing so. And so hopefully we’re inspired by their Faith over fear.
Today we’re going to be looking at this idea of living a life of Faith over fear and seeing the opportunities that God calls us to… to act, and that act is going to require Faith over fear.
Ironically then, I want to start off by a recent realization of a failure in this area in my life, a time where I feel like I really chose fear over Faith.
What happened, as some of you know here in the congregation, back in October we returned home with our fifth child, adopted Judah from China, and we were just sort of recovering from that whole experience when some time in November, what had happened here in the community was that there was a pastor who was at church one morning, and they were there by themselves, when preparing for services one Sunday morning, and a woman walked in with her five children and said to him, “I don’t want these children anymore,” and turned around and walked out.
So the pastor had these five kids just sitting there with him.
Someone from our church knew about that circumstance and knew that it was not this pastor’s first desire to care for these five children, and so they began praying about who should care for these kids. And a couple days later my wife got a phone call.
You know where this is going, right? (LAUGHTER)
Okay, did you hear the part where I said we already have five kids…? (laughter) OK. OK… I just want to be clear.
So my wife comes to me says, “I got this phone call and someone thinks that we should care for these five kids.” And she was looking at me like… you know what I mean, ‘the look’… right guys? She was looking at me like this was a real possibility. And so I sort of condensed and boiled down this conversation to some sort of agreed upon, “We’ll pray about it.”
And we did pray about it. We prayed about it several times, and eating together. before we went to bed, and eventually, over some time, enthusiasm faded and we found out the kids were kind of being cared for in a different circumstance, and you know, we just sort of went on our way.
It wasn’t really until I was preparing the sermons for this series that I felt like God had really kind of spoken to me and really challenged me with this idea that I had acted in fear over Faith.
Now let me let me clarify that… and by that I mean, when I was praying about it, I wasn’t actually open to what God’s answer was. Did you ever have one of those prayers before?
I prayed about it makes, makes me feel better, but I’m not really open to the answer that God might have for me.
Now I’m not saying that I know that God wanted us to care for those kids… it may be that had I been open-minded and acting in Faith over fear, he still would’ve not had us care for those kids.
What I am saying to start off our time together this morning, is that it was a clear reminder for me that I acted in fear over Faith.
And that just led me to start thinking, “I wonder how many more times in my life that has happened? I wonder how many more times in my life God has presented an opportunity, and because I was someone who had fear over Faith maybe I didn’t even see the opportunity, or the opportunity came and went quickly.
That’s like when you are in a Bible study, or a small group, or something like that, and someone else in your group says something about leaving their career… their lucrative career to go do what they feel like God is calling them to do for the Kingdom of God, and maybe God’s trying to speak to you through that voice, and you don’t even consider that because immediately fear comes in like, “I could never I could never do that”.
Or maybe someone in one of your contexts is talking about inviting someone to church, or sharing their Faith with someone, and you hear that, and God is actually going to speak to that and present you with an opportunity as well, but you never go there in your mind because immediately fear comes in and sort of quenches the moment.
We want to be Faith over fear, not fear over Faith people.
And what happens when we do that, when we operate out of fear over Faith, is we miss some of the really amazing things that God is doing in the world around us. In fact our BIG IDEA for you is this…. that
The good, the perfect, and the pleasing will of God is most often (not all the time) but is most often carried out through those who choose Faith over fear.
That the good the perfect and the pleasing will of God is most often carried out through those who choose Faith over fear.
And we’re going to see that played out in our passage of Scripture together this morning. I want to invite you there with me.
In the Book of Numbers, yes that’s a book in your Bible, in the Old Testament portion of your Bible, Numbers, Chapter thirteen, we’re going to be looking at that. If you have a Bible, we would love to have you turn there with us.
If not, we’ll have the Scripture on the screen as well. In Numbers, Chapter thirteen, starting in the very first verse… I warn you ahead of time, this is the most Scripture I’ve ever tried to deal with in a single sermon, but it’s one of those narratives that has a beginning, and a middle, and an end, and you don’t really get the point until you’ve seen the whole thing.
And so we’re going to be doing that, sort of in a quick overview together this morning.
There are so many Scriptures, so in case you’ve got one of those ADHD things going on or something, and we lose you, we’ll give you the thirty-second Cliff Notes — here it is:
This is a significant, significant moment in Israel’s history. God has a chosen group of people known as the Israelites and he has freed them from slavery at the hands of the Egyptians… they are now wandering in the desert and he is trying to move them into a land, their own space. All the other land around them is inhabited by people. And God is trying to move them into their own space where they can grow and become a light unto the nations.
But because all the other land is inhabited by other people, there’s going to be a military conquest that has to come through this; and that’s why a lot of the violence in your Bible exists. And so these people are going to be forced to choose either Faith over fear, or fear over Faith as God leads them on this military conquest.
Here’s what the Scripture says, Numbers 13:1-2
The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.
Let’s just look at that.. so to be clear, Moses is the leader of the Israelites, and God is the one initiating this. God is the one who’s making this happen, and not only is he saying it, but he’s saying, “I’m going to give this over to you.”
Now, Moses heard this, but we don’t know for sure whether the men had the ability to hear this or not. Whether or not Moses ended up passing this message on to them, or do they go blindly?
In all likelihood Moses passed on this message to them and let them know why he was sending them out.
But if you think about it, it’s still sort of secondhand isn’t it?
So we’ve created an opening for fear over Faith because they didn’t hear from God Himself. And I point that out because most of us like to think, I’m sure, that if we knew that God was speaking to us and telling us to do something, we would do it.
But most of us, if we’re honest, the best that God ever communicates to us feels kind of like second-hand information.
And so fear sort of starts to creep in… like, “Did God really say this to me? Is this really the message for me?”… it starts to make me think again about all the opportunities that maybe God was leading us into that we ended up not even the recognizing, or allowing fear to quickly quench.
Here, God is clearly the one behind this. He says,
From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”
3 So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders [they were leaders people, these weren’t the bottom of the barrel–they were leaders] of the Israelites. 4 These are their names:
from the tribe of Reuben,
Shammua son of Zakkur;
5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori;
6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb
Caleb [now Caleb’s highlighted for a reason… not just because my son’s here, but because… well, you’re gonna see why.
Caleb son of Jephunneh;
7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph;
8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea
Now Hoshea is highlighted as well, because Moses is going to give this guy a new name and his new name is going to be Joshua. Hoshea means “saves”, Joshua means, “The Lord saves”. So he’s going to get a new name, and Joshua is going to be the new leader of Israel. There’s a whole book in the Bible named Joshua.
Alright, so Caleb and Joshua are highlighted. Now let me just ask you… do you know anyone in your life named Caleb or Joshua? …Yes.
Do you know anyone named Palti or Gaddiel? … No, you don’t.
Why is that?
It’s because Caleb and Joshua are easier names? Well they’re only easier names because they’re more common names. Why are they more common names? Because no one wanted to name their kid after what these other people do. But they do want to name their kid after Joshua and Caleb.
So that’s a little foreshadowing of how they’re going to act… who’s going to be Faith over fear and who’s going to be fear over Faith.
Let’s go to verse ten,
10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi;
11 from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi son of Susi;
This is why people don’t go to small Bible Studies… they’re afraid that the leader will call on them to read this passage of Scripture (LAUGHTER).
12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli;
13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael;
14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi;
15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Maki.
16 These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. (Moses gave Hoshea, I told you this was coming, son of Nun the name Joshua.)
17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak,
Now as I was reading and studying this I was imagining myself as one of these sort of spies. What if God had sent me on this mission and I was thinking like, how do you go and say, “Oh, the people there are strong, or the people are weak”?
I’m picturing myself in the gym, like, “Oh, he’s pretty buff you know…”
But anyway, he wants to say how many are there? And then in verse nineteen,
19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? [I think I could’ve reported that] 20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)
21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. 25 At the end of forty days [this was not a short mission; at the end of 40 days they come back with all the information] they returned from exploring the land.
Now here we are, at this point in time in our series, we’re wondering, “Are they going to bring back a Faith over fear report? Or are they going to bring back a fear over Faith report?”
And here is what the Scripture then goes on to tell us. Also, here’s our big idea again, we were wondering right?
Are they going to get to see God work through them in an amazing way or they’re going to be people who missed out on it because they have a fear over Faith report?
So here’s their report, the Scripture says in verse twenty-six,
26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!
Listen to that… they’re not saying, “Hey guys, what God has prepared for us isn’t that good, He’s not actually sending us into something that we want…” That’s not the problem here, that’s not what kills this whole event.
The land is flowing with milk and honey,
it is desirable,
it is something that they would want,
it is a place where they would want to live…
But… the people who live there are powerful.
Now you can start to see the reported fear over Faith,
and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anakthere [a group of people known for their warrior abilities]. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
And so we have a clear fear over Faith report. This is our first indication that these people are going to miss out on the amazing thing that God is going to do in the midst of the Israelites.
The land’s good, that’s not the problem–the problem is they’re unwilling to go to the good thing that God is leading them into because their fear is holding them back.
But… Caleb… remember that name.
The Scripture tells us,
30 Then Caleb [he stands up, right?] he silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
Man, I just love this whole scene… you can imagine everyone around him is reporting differently, they’re gaining attraction and attention, momentum with the crowds… everything’s sort of leaning this way, and Caleb’s willing to stand up and say in the midst of all of them,
“No, I disagree”… with this fear over Faith report. And he comes in with a very clear Faith over fear report. And I think one of things we ought to take from this is the realization, the reality that Faith over fear is not the norm.
Faith over fear is not the norm for people. It is not the norm even for the people of God to choose Faith over fear. Which means that if you decide today or are already living as a Faith over fear person, you should be prepared to be in the minority. You should be prepared to have people surrounding you who are telling you a fear over Faith report.
There are a few churches even, that get to the place where the majority of the people in the church are operating with Faith over fear. Most churches have the majority of people operating with fear over Faith.
But when a church tips those scales and begins to operate as a majority with Faith over fear it becomes a beautiful thing to see what they can do for the Kingdom of God.
The Scripture goes on and tells us,
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”
Just look at that expression, “they are stronger than we are.” Listen, this is clear… that whenever we focus on our own strengths and abilities we’re likely to be people who are fear over Faith. Fear over Faith people are people who focus on their own abilities and strengths.
YES… they are stronger than you are, but you’re focused on that and you’re missing a big part of the equation…
32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim
Some of you remember them from Genesis Chapter six… The story that leads right up to the global flood in Genesis six where these great, giant men and warriors ravage the land and did what they want with whoever they wanted to do it with.
Here they are, they see some connection there; this is the type of fear they have.
(the descendants of Anakcome from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! [WOW, really?] Or in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?
There’s such an absence of Faith, they’ve already determined that they’re going to lose and die.
Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”
You know I had heard and maybe even read at times, this whole idea that the Egyptians say something about going back, but I’d always kind of taken it as if it was just sort of a flippant statement–they didn’t really mean it they were just mad and angry and grumbling and sort of overstated their grumbling kind of like you know your kids might do at times.
But here’s what they say next … this is not just some sort of thing that they don’t really mean…
4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
It’s like a real plan of there’s. That’s how much they’re being driven by fear over Faith—that they’re willing to step back into a land of slavery, in a position that was difficult and terrible for them, because they fear what God might be leading them into.
In trying to contemporize this… I was thinking about a single woman out there who’s been mistreated by just constantly finding the wrong guy. She’s in an abusive relationship… and has this moment of Faith over fear, where with God’s strength, they leave that relationship, despite some of the dangers and consequences of doing so.
But then they in this kind of wilderness situation in life… they’d not been alone like that, they’ve not been in a situation where they weren’t being mistreated, and their uneasiness of the unknown drives them back into this abusive relationship.
I think about Egypt doing this… I think about the dying church, and how many dying churches there are out there, that caught a glimpse of saying, “Hey we’re dying; there’s got to be something better.” They might even hire a pastor or a leader to try to lead them into something new.
And they start making some sort of changes, and they start to sort of move in that direction, but also, and it’s like, “Whoa, we’re in the wilderness.” And they start grumbling and complaining amongst each other and say, “Hey, even though we were dying before, at least it was comfortable… at least it was familiar, at least we knew what was going to happen to us… it’s a better death than maybe what we’re being led on to.” And they go back and make the change and resort back to where they were.
Here’s Israel so driven by fear over Faith… “Let’s go back to Egypt.”
Scripture goes on to tell us then,
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell face down in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. 6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land,
Notice when we said earlier:
Fear over Faith people focus on their own strength and ability,
Faith over fear people focus on the strength and ability of the Lord.
If the Lord wills this, if he’s behind this, He can make this thing happen.
There’s a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid_of_them.”
So Joshua and Caleb come along and they give a clear, although it’s the minority report, a clear Faith over fear report, and answer, “Do not be afraid.” is repeated by them.
Then the Scripture goes on and tells us this happened. It’s not easy being a Faith over fear leader…
10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them.
That’s why I think one of the most important qualities in a church when choosing its elders, is a group of men and women who will seek the mind of Christ, and regardless of where Christ leads them, no matter how much Faith it’s going to take, no matter how much fear it’s going to instill in them and their congregation, they are going to be Faith over fear leaders.
And being a Faith over fear leader is not always going to make you very popular person.
10b Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt?
Listen to God’s reasoning here…
How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?
What he’s referencing is what happened in Egypt; he’s referencing all the miracles that he performed amongst them to free them in Egypt. He’s saying, “I’ve been that faithful to you; I’ve done that many miraculous things in your presence, how could you possibly still be a fear over Faith people?
For us today, we find might some great confidence perhaps from what we read in Exodus, but our greatest source of strength and relying upon God to be of Faith over fear people isn’t necessarily found from Exodus, but it’s more found from what we hear about Jesus Christ, and what he’s done in our life.
Jesus Christ is the one who we look back to and see, “Here is how God has been faithful to us on a regular basis. Faithful to rescue us on the cross through His Son Jesus Christ… faithful to draw all us into a relationship with Him, and faithful to do a great work in our lives ever since we entered into a relationship with Him.”
We see that repeated pattern in our life… how could we still be a fear over Faith people?
And so let me just ask you this question.
How has God been faithful in your past?
And what might he be building up to?
Faithful to Israel in the past, and then building up to go ahead and take the land. How has God been faithful in your past? And what might he be building up to?
Trust me, he hasn’t been faithful to you in the past so you could be comfortable today. How has he been faithful to you in the past, and what might He be building up to?
Let’s ask that of the church.
How has God been faithful to Kirkmont Presbyterian Church in the past and what might he be building up to?
12 I will strike them down
The Scripture told us earlier in Numbers that “Moses was the most humble man on the earth”… and listen to what he does, he intervenes on behalf of his people, and out of zeal for the character of God.
13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 [Listen to this]…‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’
So Moses is saying, “Your name… if you end the Israelites here, your name will suffer as a result. And then he intervenes further and says,
17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people,just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
So he answers and he says,
~19 God forgive these people for what they’ve just done.
And in verse twenty,
20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.
What a comforting passage of Scripture that is… for those of us who are able to quickly say look I have repeatedly in my life operated with fear over Faith. We’re reminded that there’s forgiveness for even those who operate in fear over Faith.
This isn’t a salvation thing…
Our big ideal is not, “Hey those people who operate in Faith over fear will get into heaven.” We’re not trying to be good enough people to earn our way into heaven. No, in heaven God will by the grace of forgiveness in Jesus Christ, there will be many people who lived out their entire Christian life operating with fear over Faith.
What we’re saying here is, God most often works through those who operate in Faith over fear. So we miss out in this life to be a part of God’s amazing work for the Kingdom of God when we operate out of fear over Faith.
So there’s forgiveness he says here,
21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised…
They’re never going to go there. They’re forgiven but they never get to see it. And that’s why we’ve been saying our big idea is:
Most often God works through those who choose Faith over fear,
and these people have chosen fear over Faith and they’ve missed out on this.
23 No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.
In the end God’s will is accomplished, right? But it’s just not through those who chose fear over Faith. And it’s a sad thing to think about. And it’s sad to think about for our lives how many times we might have missed out on what amazing things God was doing.
Then the Scripture tells us this, finally to conclude… in verse twenty-four.
Numbers 14:24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.
I just want to ask you this morning.
Are you going to have a different spirit when…
- When even your own husband or wife who’s a brother or sister in Christ is operating in a fear over Faith lifestyle… are you going to have a different spirit?
- When the rest of your Bible study, or small group, or those at work around you are operating in fear over Faith, are you going to be someone like Caleb who stands up and has a different spirit?
And just a final diagnostic question…
What could God ask you to do that might tempt you to choose fear over Faith?
Our BIG IDEA one last time for you is that,
The good, perfect, and pleasing will God is most often carried out through those who choose Faith over fear.
God is on the move, he’s doing amazing things, and the real question is are we going to be a part of it?
Heavenly Father we thank you for this passage of Scripture. Indeed some of us would like to confess that we identify with those who went out and reported, and knowing that you were behind this that you were trying to make this happen we still reported a fear over Faith type of mentality.
We do that often in our lives. We confess that to you, We pray that you would remind us by your grace of your incredible Faithfulness to us through your Son Jesus Christ, that our Faith in You might increase.
We long to be a part of what you’re doing in this kingdom, and we trust and know that you’re doing amazing things. We want to be a group of individuals, and a church family that is a part of that. So we ask that by your grace and mercy that you would give us FAITH, which is a gift from God above. We pray you would grant us an increased measure of Faith in you and what you’re doing, and we ask these things in Christ’s name.
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