Intro. After a year in the wilderness, God has brought the people to the border of the promised land. Moses sent in twelve men, one from each tribe to spy out the land that they might come back with a report to the people.
A. This is the information that Moses wanted them to gather.
1. Check out the people.
a. Whether they are strong or weak.
b. Whether they be few or many.
2. Check out the cities.
a. Whether the people dwell in tents or in strongholds.
3. Check out the land.
a. Whether it is good or bad.
b. Whether it is fat or lean.
c. Whether there are any trees in the land.
B. Joshua and Caleb brought back this report.
1. They brought back a huge bunch of grapes that they carried on a staff between them.
2. They said, "It is a land that flows with milk and honey."
3. The people are strong.
4. The cities are walled and very great.
5. We did see the children of Anak there (or giants).
6. Their recommendation was "Let us go up at once and possess it for we are able to overcome it.
C. The ten other spies said:
1. We cannot go up against these people, they are stronger than we.
2. It's a land that cannot support the inhabitants.
3. The men are of great stature.
4. We saw giants, the sons of Anak. We were like grasshoppers in our sight.
D. How is it there is such a contrast in their reports?
1. The two said it was a land that flowed with milk and honey and brought back the evidence of the fruitfulness.
2. The ten said that it ate up its inhabitants.
3. The two looked at the land through the eyes of faith.
4. The ten were looking through the eyes of unbelief.
E. The response of the people.
1. They cried all night.
2. They murmured against Moses and Aaron.
3. They said they would have been better off to have died in Egypt or in the wilderness.
4. They accused the Lord of bringing them there to kill them. That their wives and children would become a prey.
5. They decided that they would be better off to return to Egypt and began to look for someone to lead them back to Egypt.
F. Joshua and Caleb tried to encourage the people. They said:
1. The land is exceedingly good.
2. The Lord will bring us into the land and give it to us, it flows with milk and honey.
3. Don't fear the people of the land; they are bread for us.
4. Their defense has departed from them. The Lord is with us; do not fear them.
G. The people responded to their encouragement by deciding to stone them.
II. THE TRAGIC PRICE THAT THEY PAID FOR THEIR UNBELIEF.
A. Not only were they shut out from this beautiful land that God had promised to give to them, but they were doomed to wander in the wilderness for forty years.
B. They were doomed to die in the wilderness.
C. There began the longest funeral march in the history of man.
D. All because of their unbelief.
III. WHAT WAS IT THAT TRIGGERED THEIR UNBELIEF?
A. They looked at the difficulties rather than God.
1. They saw the size of the giants rather than the size of their God.
2. They saw the greatness of the walls of the cities rather than the greatness of the God they served.
B. Whenever you get your eyes off of God and onto the problem, your faith will begin to falter.
1. Peter was doing pretty well walking on the water until he got his eyes off of Jesus and onto the wave that was about ready to crash over his head.
2. The scriptures declare that God will keep you in perfect peace if your mind is stayed on Him.
C. A few contrasts between faith and unbelief:
1. Faith will give comfort in the midst of fears; unbelief with give fear in the midst of comforts.
2. Faith makes great burdens light; unbelief makes light burdens heavy.
3. Faith lifts us when we are down; unbelief puts us down when we were up.
4. Faith brings us near to God when we were far from Him; unbelief puts us far from God when we were near to Him.
5. Faith brings us to the grace of God; unbelief brings us to the wrath of God.
6. Faith purifies the heart; unbelief pollutes the heart.
7. Faith brings peace to the troubled soul; unbelief brings turmoil to the peaceful soul.
8. Faith causes us to rejoice in the midst of sorrows; unbelief causes us to mourn in the midst of blessings.
9. By faith the children passed through the Red Sea; by unbelief they perished in the wilderness.
IV. HAVE YOU EVER STOPPED TO THINK OF THE TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR UNBELIEF TODAY?
A. God has promised to bring us into His paradise, into heaven, if we will but follow Him.
1. The Bible speaks much about heaven, the wonders and glory of dwelling forever with our God.
2. With the total inadequacy of human language the Apostles sought to describe some of its beauties.
3. Paul declared that the eye has not seen nor the ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for those that love Him.
4. Later on he said that it would be a crime to try to describe with the language of men, the glory of the things he heard in heaven.
5. To journey to this paradise, it is necessary to step out in faith. "He that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him."
6. God will lead us each step of the way and provide for our needs along the way. "All the way my Savior leads me, what have I to ask beside."
a. As Asaph the psalmist said, I am continually with You, You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and when I come to the end of my journey You will receive me into glory.
b. It is a walk by faith, each step we take by faith. Our faith is often tested.
c. As I walk through this wilderness experience of life, I can always rest assured because of His presence with me.
7. As David said, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." What then? What happens when the days of my life are over? "I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
B. Unbelief keeps you from trusting the word of God.
1. You are gambling that God does not exist. Pseudo science is seeking so hard to eliminate God that they are buying into all kinds of fables. In one of the latest articles in the Science Journal, they are suggesting that perhaps the first living cell came on a meteorite through space to the planet earth, perhaps from Mars. Why would it be easier for life to form on some other planet than here on earth? You are still faced with the impossible odds of life appearing by spontaneous generation.
2. You are gambling that the Bible is not the word of God. Though it purports to be and has stood the test of time, and has never needed revision, and proves it by telling with accuracy, things that would happen years before they took place, still you have your doubts.
3. You are gambling that Jesus is not the Son of God. He was deluded, or worse, a deceiver, a trickster, who made fraudulent claims to Messiahship. His remarkable fulfilling of over 300 prophesies of the Old Testament did indeed defy all odds, yet you cannot believe that He was sent by God. His miracles could all have been illusions. The blind just thought they were seeing, the deaf only thought they were hearing, and the lame only thought they could walk. His resurrection was a clever plot to convince men that He was God.
4. Or perhaps His disciples just made up all these stories of His miracles to fool the people. Though Peter denied that, he said:
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; that you would do well to take heed of as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.
C. You are gambling that Peter was a liar, that Jesus was a fraud, that God does not exist. What will all of this gambling get you?
1. You can be sure that lust and fear, anxiety and strife will follow you all the days of your life, and you will be with Satan in hell forever.
2. God declared that the people above 20 years of age would die in the wilderness. They would never enjoy the promised land.
3. As Jude comments, "Though they were delivered from the land of Egypt, yet they were destroyed in the wilderness because they believed not." Unbelief cost them their inheritance.
4. Unbelief will cost you your eternal inheritance.
5. I, for one, am unwilling to gamble with those kinds of odds against me, and with such high stakes.