Spiritual Warfare

Numbers 13

Israel had been through some very intense occurrences – witnessing the plagues in Egypt; escaping the Egyptian army by fleeing through the middle of the Red Sea; being sustained by water from a rock, and manna that appeared every morning on the desert ground. But now was another intense place – it was time to move forward into the Promised Land.

It seems that for Christians walking in faith, the challenges get bigger and bigger. But that’s because God wants to do more and more through us. The lessons of faith and trust that we have learned through previous experiences are tested and expanded as we are entrusted with greater opportunities to further God’s kingdom. The fruit that God desires to produce through us is bigger, more far-reaching, and more eternal than our earthly minds can fully grasp.

Matthew 25:21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”

Revelation 22:3-5 “…His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His Name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.”

Probably the saddest place for a serious Christian is to reach a point where we are no longer willing to take a step of faith, for fear of losing the comforts of this world.

Because of the significance of what lay ahead, spiritual unrest in the Israeli camp was high. God was beginning to set the wheels in motion that He had promised centuries before to Abraham. Israel was preparing to move into the ‘Promised Land’. Satan was of course stirring up the pot. Paul wrote that “…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:12-13)

Whenever God wants to do something powerful, Satan wants to thwart it. He had a lot at stake – God had promised Israel the land, and had staked His own reputation on them getting it. If Satan could prevent God’s Words from coming true, then he could claim to be greater than God, and that God was nothing but a liar. He could open up a bunch of churches that didn’t rely on the Bible, since ‘it’s not 100% true and therefore cannot be taken literally’. These churches would instead rely on the ‘democratic’ voting of men. They would pick and choose from the Bible what they liked, and throw out what they didn’t like. As culture changed, they could pass new church rules in order to conform to it, and avoid persecution. Satan would allow them to believe in a ‘good God’, as long as they could define what ‘good’ meant. He’d even allow some to believe in an ‘evil Satan’, as long as they could also define him. That way, they wouldn’t know the truth until it was too late, and they met him in his eternal kingdom of fire.

Satan was stirring the pot. The Israelis complained about the food (Numbers 11:1-5). Miriam and Aaron complained against Moses (Numbers 12:1-3). Now, in Numbers 13, he would use most of the tribal leaders, as the time to move forward into the Promised Land had come.

1-2 God specifically said that He was giving Canaan to Israel. But, He also obviously expected Israel to go and take it. God’s promises still require faith and action on our part. Twelve leaders were selected to go in and spy the land.

3-15 These Leaders are named

16 Moses changed Joshua’s name from Hoshea (‘Salvation’) to Joshua (‘Jehovah is Salvation’). God had great plans for Joshua, and apparently it needed to be specified that He, the true Jehovah God, was the source of human victory, rather than the human himself, or some other nebulous ‘god’. God had great plans for Joshua – he would be taking many steps of faith in the future. So, Joshua needed to be clear of Who his God was. Every time someone called him by name, Joshua would be reminded of that.

17-21 Even though God was giving Israel the land, He still expected them to plan and work for it. Faith is not ignorant – it is knowing the odds we face, but trusting God’s strength above our own to accomplish what He has sent us out to do in His Name.

Luke 14:28-32 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not site down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.”

‘Blind’ faith can be very destructive. Well-meaning people can ‘get in the flesh’ and assign something to God that is not coming from Him. We must be very careful to know that God is speaking to us before we take a great step of faith.

Pastor Chuck Smith used to talk about faith as being like a game of checkers. If you think God is speaking to you, then take a step of faith by moving one of the pieces to an open space. Don’t move from one end of the board to the other in one fell swoop – that’s against the rules. Take one step, then wait for God’s confirmation, by seeing which piece He moves. Once He moves, you take the next step.

There’s no shame in going back a space if we find out that God is not moving in the way we supposed that He would. To be honest, I’ve learned over the years that God usually doesn’t move in the way I originally thought He would. But God does move all the time, and so I’m learning to follow Him more, and myself less.

22 The descendants of Anak were descended from the ‘Nephilim’ giants (Genesis 6:4; Numbers 13:33). That was a bad and scary thing. That’s what makes walking by faith hard. That’s why God has to train us incrementally.

When Jesus saved Paul, He told Ananias “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.” (Acts 9:16) Jesus didn’t say ‘I have shown him’ – I doubt that Paul at that moment could have handled knowing fully the suffering and difficulties that lay ahead in his life. But over time, God developed him into probably the greatest man recorded in the New Testament. He had a huge calling; and the spiritual warfare he would face would be huge. Paul would learn by experience to rely totally on God’s strength. I think that to the extent we can rely totally on God, will dictate the extent to which God will use us in His service.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecution, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Battle proven, mature leaders are not necessarily powerful in themselves. In fact, they may be very weak in themselves. Their strength lies in their ability to keep their eyes on God. They focus on His might when others focus on Anak’s might. When others are afraid of what Anak might do to them, mature leaders are more afraid of letting Jesus down. When others are torn apart by fear and confusion from the demonic spirits sent by the enemy, the most mature leaders can keep following God and be led by the His Spirit. They’re not led by emotion or by people, but by God.

23-27 The land was lush – ‘Eshcol’ means ‘cluster’; plentiful. God always wants to bring us to an awesome place. But it seems that nothing truly meaningful and worthwhile ever comes easily.

28 “Nevertheless”. When God is directing us, there shouldn’t be any ‘neverthelesses’; only ‘yeses’ in obedience to Him. 29 There were many other enemies besides Anak. It would not be an easy journey. When is walking by faith easy?

30 God bless Caleb – may we all have an attitude like him!

strong>31-33 Sadly, the ten other guys were ‘leaders’ (see Verse 2). But they weren’t leading the people to victory – they were discouraging them. Because walking in faith can be tough, sometimes guys that were leaders previously can become tools of discouragement. They’ve changed sides, and they don’t realize it.

Now, not were just the people, and Aaron and Miriam being infected by the intense, invisible spiritual warfare; but ten of the twelve leaders also were infected.

We know the rest of the story. All of the men over the age of twenty would die in the desert over the next 38 years as the people went in circles to nowhere. Moses would see the Promised Land but not enter it himself. Only two of the twelve leaders who had spied out the land – Joshua and Caleb – had the faith to enter in.

No offense to all of the other guys – but may the Lord help us all to be Joshuas and Calebs!

How?

Numbers 13

14 Walk in Truth – God is truth, and His Word is truth. The only way to bow down to God instead of Anak is to believe God’s truth. Otherwise, in your darkest hour, you won’t have the courage to obey God, because you won’t believe Him enough. Anak will be more real to you than God.

Are you reading your Bible every day? Are you starting in Genesis, and going all the way to Revelation, than starting back in Genesis again? If you are growing in the Word, then you will be growing in your faith.

Walk in Righteousness – Are you born again, covered by Jesus’ righteousness? And, are you walking in obedience to God the best that you know how, struggling every day to obey the Spirit rather than the flesh? When you fall, do you get back up, repent and move forward? Or are you living in sin, hiding behind some distortion of God’s Word, abusing His grace? If the latter, watch out. God is our King, not our obedient, complying servant.

15 Walk in the Gospel of peace – Am I bringing Jesus everywhere I go, spreading His truth, without any personal anger or self-righteousness?

16 Walk in True Faith – Everybody walks in ‘faith’; the question is, what or whom is that faith in? For Christians, we need to ask ourselves: ‘Am I walking in faith in God, or in the fear of man’?

17 Walk in Salvation – have I given my heart to Jesus? Am I born again? (If not, simply pray something like: ‘God, I’m a sinner. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me. I receive Him as my Lord and Savior. Please move into my heart, and make me new in You.’ Then, start reading your Bible and find a good church so you can grow.)

Walk in the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God – Is God’s Word my most powerful ‘weapon’? Do I have a ‘Christian world view’ based on the Bible, or an ‘earthly world view’ based on something else? When faced with everyday decisions, is God’s Word my deciding factor?

18 Walking in consistent Prayer – How is my prayer life? How far beyond my own needs do my prayers extend? How many others are included in my prayers?

Be encouraged – Jesus loves us all and wants us all to walk in faith and obedience to Him.

There are no ‘failures’ living for Jesus. We may at times be foolish, weak, unwise, or simple
(1 Corinthians 1:26-31); but we’re never failures when we walk by faith.

May we all be Moses’, Joshuas, and Calebs!
When we walk by faith, we are.

May God bless you!!

Pastor Mark 6/19/2015

Categories Sermons | Tags: | Posted on June 19, 2015

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