NUMBERS 13:31-33: “But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” NLT
OBSERVATION: What is the deadliest virus known to man? Is it the current Covid-19 virus? Throughout the history of mankind, there have been viruses that have threatened man’s health and well-being. Yet, all of these viruses combined cannot compare to the deadliest virus of all.
THE DEADLIEST VIRUS OF ALL IS – UNBELIEF!
Just the other day I received my first vaccination shot for the Covid-19 virus. I have known many people who have suffered through this virus, and some who have died. Throughout this ordeal, there has been an ever-changing stream of misinformation. In fact, to this day, I am not sure we know fully how the virus is spread. All we know is that it is extremely contagious and we need to take every precaution we can to avoid it.
The virus of unbelief is not so mysterious. It is spread through a bad report. A bad report is anything that disagrees with God’s promises. A bad report looks at the circumstances and forgets the miraculous power of God. When it stares into the face of sickness it can only see death. When it stares into the face of adversity it can only see defeat. Such was the case with the bad report that the 10 spies spread among the children of Israel.
Daily, the children of Israel witnessed the awesome presence of God over the Tabernacle. They had walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. They had witnessed Pharaoh’s army engulfed by the sea and defeated. They gathered manna each day and partook of God’s miraculous supply. They drank water from a rock and received the tablets of the Covenant that were written with the finger of God. And, they had witnessed God defeat their enemies along the way.
Yet, when faced with the land of promise, seeing the evidence that it was a land filled with milk and honey, they chose to believe the bad report of 10 doubting spies who could not see past the obstacles that lay between them and God’s promise.
- “So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge.” Numbers 13:32 NLT
They were scared. Their faith was weak. And, since they were afraid to go, they did not want anyone to go! The result of their bad report was devastating. Fear and unbelief swept through the camps. Then the entire nation of Israel, save Joshua and Caleb, were infected with doubt.
- “Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained…Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!” Numbers 14:1-2, 4 NLT
The result was devastating. The entire nation of Israel, everyone that was 20 years or older, ended up wandering in the wilderness for 40 years until each one of them died and were buried.
Unbelief not only limited their faith – it killed them!
How does this apply to our lives? Have I ever been guilty of spreading a bad report? Have I ever been infected by a bad report? Have I found myself wandering in a wilderness of doubt and unbelief, never entering into the promises and rest of the Lord? I think we all have experienced this infectious virus in our lives.
Unbelief is a virus to be avoided and it is a virus that can be overcome!
The first thing I need to do is recognize the signs of a bad report. A bad report always focuses on the negative aspects of a situation and the limitations to overcome it. When the Covid-19 virus first wielded its ugly head there was a barrage of misinformation and bad reports. People were paralyzed with fear. Even believers lived in a constant state of fear. Yet, so much of what we feared was not true. And, in all of this, we lost sight of one important fact – Jesus is our healer!
A believer is not to live in a fantasyland, ignoring science and burying their head in the sand. Covid-19 was a deadly virus and there were giants in the promised land. The difference between faith and doubt is one’s perspective. The 10 spies could only see the giants and their presumed defeat. Joshua and Caleb saw the giants too. Yet, they also saw the glory and power of God and His covenant promises.
Faith focuses on the power of God. Unbelief focuses on the limitations of man.
A bad report can also keep us from loving our neighbor as ourselves. When someone begins to speak ill of someone, if we are not careful, it will color our perspective of this person. Gossip is the familiar channel for bad reports. We need to avoid this at all costs. When the 10 spies began to spin their bad report, it not only caused fear and unbelief to spread like a wildfire. It also caused the children of Israel to reject the leadership of Moses.
- “Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained.” Numbers 14:2 NLT
No mask will protect us from the virus of unbelief. Yet, there is a shield against it. It is the shield of faith. Faith believes that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). The Scriptures have been given to us as a record of this truth. The entire chapter of Hebrews 11 is a record of those who both lived and died in faith. They refused to embrace the bad report and clung to the promises of God. Even in death, they were victorious.
Joshua and Caleb, the two faithful spies, were the only two of their generation that entered the promised land. They entered it because they refused to be infected by the bad report and they clung to the covenant promises of God. Joshua became the leader of Israel and Caleb was a mighty warrior who, in his old age, secured his land of promise, and overcame the giants in the land!
In this day of uncertainty, in an atmosphere of a pandemic and a world that is filled with unrest, we have a choice to make. Will we listen to the bad reports that are streaming the airwaves 24-7, or will we rise up in faith and place our trust in our Lord Jesus Christ to lead us through this time victoriously. Victory is not defined simply by the outcome. Victory is defined by the position and attitude of the heart. Paul said,
- “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” Philippians 1:21 NLT
How could Paul say this? He could say this because of his faith. He had anchored his hope in Christ alone. There was nothing or no one who could separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus. If Paul were alive today he would be wearing and mask and living by faith. He would not be crippled in fear from the barrage of bad reports on the news. He would be engaged in proclaiming the Gospel, praying for the sick, worshipping with the saints in church, and living as a light in a darkened world.
Paul would do this fearlessly because he knew that whether he lived or died – he was the Lord’s!
Lord, help me to resist the bad reports of this life and walk in faith! Grant me the grace to cling to Your promises in every situation and trial of life.
In Jesus Name!