The Fear Trap
I want us to look at what happens when we see with eyes of fear, rather than with eyes of faith. A good example of this is in the Old Testament in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 13 and 14.
Here is the background of Numbers 13-14; Moses has led the nation of Israel to freedom. He's got them free from Pharaoh and the Egyptians; they've crossed the Red Sea. They've been traveling for about two years, from Egypt, and they're coming up to a place called Kadesh. At Kadesh, they're getting ready to cross the Jordan and go into the Promised Land. This is the land that has been promised to them for 400 years.
When they get up to the edge of the water, before they go in, twelve spies are chosen by Moses and they are sent in to go visit the land. When they come back, they give a mixed report. Two of the spies say, "It's incredible. Let's go take it. It's ready for our taking. God has given us truly the Promised Land." Those two spies were named Joshua and Caleb. The other 10 spies come back and said, "Yeah, it's a great place, but…" and they have a whole list of problems on why they can't go in. They're not seeing with eyes of faith, they're seeing with eyes of fear.
And because they failed to see with eyes of faith, that entire generation missed God's purpose for their life in God's will. God said, "Okay, you failed the test. You can wander around the wilderness for the next 40 years until you all die." I don't want that to happen in our life. I don't want us to wander in the wilderness for 40 years simply because we didn't learn to see with eyes of faith.
In our own lives, what happens when we see with eyes of fear, instead of with eyes of faith?
1. We exaggerate our DIFFICULTIES.
We exaggerate our difficulties. This is an amazing thing. God has just delivered them from Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world and now they're worried about some local tribe. They've just defeated Pharaoh and now they're worried about somebody else. How quickly we forget. When we look at our problems with eyes of fear, they get bigger.
Numbers 13:27-28 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. 28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!
Numbers 13:31-32 “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” 32 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.
So the majority report of the spies was negative. Only two of the spies have faith, Joshua and Caleb. Here's the problem – negative attitudes are contagious. When they walked up there to the edge, everybody was excited about going into the Promised Land. It was only when 10 come back and said, "We can't do it," that everybody changed their mind and they began to get infected with a negative attitude.
2. We UNDERESTIMATE our own abilities.
Numbers 33:13 Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”
Talk about low self-esteem!They're saying, “we're insects. We're just a bunch of bugs compared to those guys. They're going to eat us for lunch.”
They have been slaves for 400 years, they have been freed for 2, but they're still mentally enslaved and they still see themselves as helpless and they still see themselves enslaved. They're enslaved not by a Pharaoh now but by an idea, by an image, by a self-concept.
We overestimate the problem and we underestimate our abilities. Third thing that happens when you see with eyes of fear…
3. We get DISCOURAGED.
Numbers 14:1 Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night.
They had a giant pity party. “Poor us!” Now they're crying and weeping because they don't get to go into the Promised Land.
What's keeping them out? Their fear. They're not living by faith. We get discouraged. Then quickly, we move to number 4 and that is, we move from discouragement to griping.
4. We start to GRIPE about ALL of our lives.
We gripe about everything that's going to go wrong in our lives.
Numbers 14:2 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.
First, they cry and now, they complain. What it is? It's discontent. By the way, highly critical people are always highly insecure people. It's dominated by fear. When we find somebody who is critical of other people it’s because they're incredibly insecure and if I don't feel good about me, I certainly don't want you feeling good about you. I'm going to criticize and I'm going to complain and I'm going to be against any success that you might have. We underestimate our abilities, we get discouraged, we gripe about our lives and then
5. We eventually give up and we BLAME GOD.
Numbers 14:3 Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? …Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?
You know what they're saying there? “We know better than God.” Notice, they're blaming God for not letting them go in the Promised Land. God isn't holding them back. It's their fear that's holding them back. They're second guessing. Now, all of a sudden they're remembering the good old days of Egypt. Good old days? What's the good old days? Four hundred years of slavery, why would anybody want to go back to Egypt? It was slavery but it was safety. It was safe slavery.
There is no real freedom without taking risks. Safety and freedom are on opposite ends of the continuum. We're either moving more towards safety and slavery or we are moving more toward taking risks and freedom. God made us to be a risk taker. God made us to live by faith. Don't die in the dessert.
- How is fear holding you back in your own life? What areas of your life have you been looking at with eyes of fear?
- Where do you need to step out in faith to move forward into the promises that God has over your life?
- What is the difference between safety and freedom?