Numbers 14:3. Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”
This is the pattern that we see over and over in the Bible – people hear the promises of God but then they reject those promises and choose instead to try to control their own lives. Why? Because of fear.
In Numbers 14 the Hebrew people have made it to the edge of the promised land. But the report from the spies who went into the land before them is less than promising. There’s too many giants and too many walls. Fear grabs hold and everything that God has ever done or promised disappears from their minds.
This goes all the way back to the beginning. Adam told God that he hid because he was afraid. Afraid of God. But how did he get there? Adam’s rebellion began as the fear of not having control of his own destiny. He needed to “be like God knowing good and evil.” But this rejection of God’s grace left him with not only a fear of life but also a fear of God.
In Numbers 14, the people demonstrate these same two fears – loss of control and loss of God’s protection. Their solution: go back to Egypt.
What are you afraid of? Where do you fear losing control? What fears are keeping you up at night? Professional fears? Family fears? Relational fears? Ministry fears? Change? Uncertainty? The future?
The truth is that all of us are constantly living in fear. Fear of losing control and fear that God is not really for us. And these fears keep us from moving forward in faith. They make us want to go back to Egypt where at least we know what to expect. Where there was some level of control. And so we return to the same thought patterns and behavior patterns that offer comfort, but are actually just slavery. The slavery of trying to control our own lives.
Sadly, Christianity tends to promote this fear based living. In fact, for many Christians fear is the primary way to relate to God. Obedience is not from faith and love, but from fear that God will smite us if we don’t obey him. “Holiness” is now a way to avoid God. Rather than trusting God with every fear in our hearts, we cover up with good behavior. Maybe if we’re good enough God will move on to the “bad” Christians. Before long, like the Hebrews in Numbers 14, we believe that God has stopped caring or, even worse, that he actively opposing us.
But the truth is that God’s entire message to us in the Bible is “don’t be afraid.” Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the Hebrews, Joshua, Gideon, Esther, Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, the disciples, you, me, we’ve all heard the same message – “Fear not!” Everything God has ever said and done is meant to dispel our fear of losing control and our fear that he is against us.
But how do we know? How do we know that God is for us? That he is a good father? That he is in control even when our lives seem out of control? How do we know that he loves us, and that he will bring us into his forever home?
Our greatest fear is that God will be against us. That he will or already has abandoned us. But that is something that in Christ we never have to fear, because on the cross Christ has already experienced the opposition and abandonment that we deserved. We never have to question like the Hebrews, “why is the Lord bringing us here?” And we never have to question like Jesus, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
“To live is Christ” means no more fear of losing control and no more fear of being forsaken. Jesus is God’s “perfect love that casts out all fear.” Look forward to him. Run to his open arms. Fix your eyes ahead on Christ, not backwards on Egypt.
What are you afraid of? Where do you feel like you’ve lost control? Where does it feel like God has abandoned you?
You in Christ
How does knowing that in Christ you have perfect love remove these fears?
Christ in you
Where can you move forward today in the love of Christ?