Friday in the Fourth Week of Lent

Numbers 14:1-45

The Root Cause: Unbelief

What is the root cause of our giving in to temptation, to our indulging the flesh and heeding the world, to our nodding to the lies of Satan and falling into the same snare again and again?  I confess that this passage of Scripture disturbs me, because it robs me of my excuses and steals away my defenses.  Scripture does that, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  I thought my problem was mere human weakness.  I considered that before the devil and his host, I was simply outnumbered and gave in for lack of ability.

But no.  Here, the Scripture leaves no room but that my problem is lack of faith.  Indeed, God describes my lack of faith in this way: “How long will this people despise me?  How long will they not believe in me?”  Despise?  My lack of faith is viewed by God not as human weakness but as belittling Him and His power to deliver.  As such, it is rebellion, plain and simple, which is exactly what the children of Israel did.  The question God is asking (rhetorically, of course) is, “How can you not believe in me after all the signs I’ve done among you?  When will you ever learn?”

The Book of Hebrews spells it out just like this (3:7-19).  Hebrews ultimately credits the failure of the children of Israel to “enter His rest” to unbelief.  Did they feel like grasshoppers before the inhabitants of the land?  Yes.  Were they scared to death?  Indeed.  Was there not a reason, given the fact that they were mere slaves, untrained in the art of war, and easy prey for more experienced combatants?  So it would seem.  But all of these rational excuses, all of these justifications, are rooted in unbelief, as all sin finally is.  I cannot let myself off so easily pleading weakness, ignorance, or inability.  I succumb to temptation, I crumble before the giants, because I do not believe 1 Corinthians 10:13 (quoted yesterday).  I do not believe God can deliver, and ultimately I do not want God to deliver.  I despise the Lord, which means I scorn Him and regard Him with contempt.  Perhaps you don’t see it this way.  I implore you to take a closer look.

The giants can be defeated.  Caleb and Joshua understood this, because they BELIEVED in the Lord.  “If the LORD delights in us, He will bring us into the land … Do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us.”  If we will only believe, the devil would be food for us as well.

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