They had come to the very edge of the Promised Land. The spies had returned and had not only told them about how wonderful it was, that it was a land that flowed with milk and honey, but they had even brought back some of the fruit of the land to prove it. The people must have been convinced that the land was even better than they had ever imagined. But there was a problem.
The spies also told them about the fortified cities and the giants who lived in the land. They spread an evil report about the land, and that night the people said, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”
The New Testament book of Hebrews tells us that the people who came out of Egypt were not allowed to enter the Promised Land because of their unbelief (Hebrews 3:19). And we are told, “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:12)
There have been times in my life when I felt a lot like those people. When things didn’t go the way I thought they would, or they became much more difficult than I wanted, I would often hear myself say things like, “I knew this wasn’t going to work. God never hears my prayers and He never helps me. I should just forget the whole thing.”
When we have unbelief in our hearts it doesn’t mean that we don’t have any belief at all, it means that we believe something that isn’t true. When we choose to believe a lie, something that isn’t in agreement with God’s word, we are choosing unbelief instead of belief.
Jesus said, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) Whatever is in our hearts will come out of our mouths, sooner or later. The words we speak show us what is hiding in the depths of our hearts. For the people that came out of Egypt with Moses, their unbelief was heard again and again.
When they didn’t have food, they said, “If only we had died by the LORD’S hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:3) When they ran out of water they complained, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” (Exodus 17:3)
Have you ever gone through difficult, or disappointing, experiences and found yourself complaining like they did? Maybe you weren’t thinking God was going to kill you, but have you ever thought, like I have, that He wasn’t going to help you?
The sad fact is that those people got exactly what they believed. Their words tell us that they believed that God wanted to destroy them in the wilderness, and they ended up dying there because they refused to believe God.
God had rescued them from slavery so that He could fulfill His promise to their fathers. And when Caleb said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30), he was expressing his belief. Because Caleb believed God, he survived forty more years in the wilderness and he was able to enter the Promised Land.
The apostle Paul said, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
We have a choice when it comes to what we think about. We can let ourselves sink into the mire of disappointment, discouragement, and depression, or we can remind ourselves of God’s love and power. God told Joshua, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)
We can become prosperous and successful when we concentrate on what is true. When we consistently remind ourselves about the truth, that God loves us and wants to bless us, we confront the lies that are in our hearts.
Unbelief can ruin your life, but belief can revolutionize it. When you choose to believe that God is willing and able to give you what we ask for, you begin to create belief in your heart. The more you do that, the more you confront the lies with His truth, the stronger your faith will become.
Start today to pay attention to the things you say when you face difficulties. When you hear yourself saying things that aren’t true, when you start expressing your unbelief, you need to stop right there. Instead of letting unbelief continue to ruin your life, choose to think on whatever is true so that the truth can bring blessing into your life.