Numbers 14:1-4 AMP
AND ALL the congregation cried out with a loud voice, and [they] wept that night. All the Israelites grumbled and deplored their situation, accusing Moses and Aaron, to whom the whole congregation said, Would that we had died in Egypt! Or that we had died in this wilderness! Why does the Lord bring us to this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and little ones will be a prey. Is it not better for us to return to Egypt? [Acts 7:37-39.] And they said one to another, Let us choose a captain and return to Egypt.
The journey from Egypt to the promised land was supposed to be completed in a matter of days but it took forty years. Worse still, out of their generation, only Joshua and Caleb made it into the promised land.
What a tragic end to a journey that had started most spectacularly. God had sent Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt but because Pharaoh the king of Egypt would not let them go, God by the hand of Moses did some of the most amazing miracles. The crowning miracle was the parting of the red sea for the Israelites to walk on dry ground on the sea bed, and the drowning of Pharaoh and his army as they pursued.
Now a short time later, when Moses sent spies to check out the land God had promised them here was their report…
Numbers 13:27-33 AMP
They told Moses, We came to the land to which you sent us; surely it flows with milk and honey. This is its fruit. But the people who dwell there are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, there we saw the sons of Anak [of great stature and courage]. Amalek dwells in the land of the South (the Negeb); the Hittite, the Jebusite, and the Amorite dwell in the hill country; and the Canaanite dwells by the sea and along by the side of the Jordan [River]. Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it. But his fellow scouts said, We are not able to go up against the people [of Canaan], for they are stronger than we are. So they brought the Israelites an evil report of the land which they had scouted out, saying, The land through which we went to spy it out is a land that devours its inhabitants. And all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the Nephilim [or giants], the sons of Anak, who come from the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
The mind boggling question is, how do a people who have witnessed the sort of miracles that God did bringing them out of Egypt come to Canaan and become completely destitute of faith as they were? How do you walk on dry land through the sea and a few weeks later be unable to trust God to fight off some giants?
I find that this is not merely an arcane story for teaching Sunday school lessons. This is the reality of everyday life for many believers; me inclusive. We forget too quickly what God did yesterday and so today, we are so full of anxiety. Jesus often rebuked his disciples for this lack of enduring faith.
“Let us choose a captain” the children of Israel said, “and go back to Egypt”. How utterly untrusting of God, how desperately miserable can we really get? How can we even think about returning to Egypt; to slavery, because we can’t muster enough faith to push into the promise?
The question has never been about God’s faithfulness to his Word; it has always been about our faith in his Word. So Jesus wonders, will God’s faithfulness sustain our own faith?
Luke 18:7-8 AMP
And will not [our just] God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He defer them and delay help on their behalf? I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [persistence in] faith on the earth?
Our answer can be “yes” if only we would imbibe the habit of building mental memorials of the miracles that God does in our lives. This is why David didn’t run away from Goliath. He had built a mental memorial to the victories God gave him against the bear and the lion, so that when he faced the giant, his faith overcame fear.
Think! What has God done for/in/through you in the past? Build a mental memorial around those miracles. You need them for tomorrow’s battles.