Here we are, post-Christmas and at the end of another year. During this time, we are at a crossroads—looking back at the past year and looking ahead to the change a new year may bring.
When God called me to be a pastor, I was at a crossroads, looking behind and looking ahead. Though I had doubts, I knew that being a pastor was the promised land that God had for me. What lay ahead was so much better than anything I could have ever dreamed for myself.
As you look back and look ahead right now, let me ask you: How is your vision?
In Numbers 13, twelve spies were sent to explore the promised land of Canaan and come back with a report for the people of Israel. Of those twelve, only two gave a good report that the land was lush, flowing with milk and honey. The ten who gave a bad report said the people were strong, there were giants who were mighty and violent warriors, the cities were fortified, and the land ate people up.
Twelve spies explored the exact same land for forty days, but their visions were very different:
* Ten spies saw opposition. Simply put, they placed more faith in the problems ahead than the promises of the Lord. They focused on what they saw and forgot what God had said.
* Two spies saw opportunity. The two good spies, Joshua and Caleb, saw the same things, but their vision was completely different. Their faith was in the promises of God, not the problems ahead.
The Lord had rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, provided for their needs, and promised them a new home. Deuteronomy 6:23 says, “[The Lord] brought us out of [Egypt] in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.” God did not bring the Israelites out of Egypt to wander in the wilderness forever. He was going to deliver them to the promised land.
At this crossroads at Kadesh, the Israelites could either look behind at opposition or look ahead at opportunity. The more they discussed their options, the worse it became. They openly rebelled against Moses, Joshua, and Caleb.
God had brought them out of Egypt, but they refused to go into the promised land. Why did this happen? I think there are three things that prevented the Israelites from seeing clearly.
Fear clouds your vision and thinking. It overwhelms you and disorients you.
The Israelites were filled with fear, so they blamed walls, people, giants, terrain, and later on in Numbers 14:3, they even blamed the women and the children! The fear of the ten spies became like a virus that spread through the hearts of the entire nation.
But there were two spies, Joshua and Caleb, who begged the people not to give in to fear. As we look to a new year, I pray that God would make us a people of great courage, like Joshua and Caleb, who stand up for what’s right and care more for what’s biblical than what’s popular.
In Hebrews 3:19, the Bible clearly says it was unbelief that kept the Israelites out of the promised land. They didn’t believe God was enough, so they forfeited the promises of God for the problems of life. Although that sounds like a terrible decision, this is exactly what happens when your vision gets cloudy.
The only way to avoid this cloudy vision is by believing in God’s Word and seeing how God sees. It’s going to be hard to see how God sees if you don’t know what God says, so we must study and meditate on the Bible to learn about God’s promises for our lives.
Fortunately, First Dallas is a church built on the Bible. This is crucial because our culture’s vision is clouded by unbelief. The younger generations are being taught that truth is relative, gender is fluid, and institutions are bad. We are seeing pastors take out parts of the Bible that do not align with our culture. The truth is that our vision cannot be clear without the clarity God’s Word provides in our lives, so we must lean on the Bible to help us believe.
3. Victim Mentality
The Israelites viewed themselves as victims who would be defeated by any opposition even though the Lord God had been guiding them daily since their exodus from Egypt. All along the way, God proved faithful in spite of the challenges and victories that abounded.
Still, when faced with the challenge of fighting for the promised land, the Israelites suddenly saw themselves as victims. In Numbers 14:2–4, they said, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or even if we had died in this wilderness!” Their victim mentality made them focus on the past instead of the great future that God had for them. It erased all the promises of God and focused on the problems of life to the point where they wished they would have died. God did not lead them to the promised land to be slaughtered, but before a single battle started, the Israelites believed they were already defeated.
The problem with the victim mentality is that we forget to see the blessings of the day. It poisons, not nourishes, our view of God, ourselves, and others. When we know God, we are not victims. When we have clear vision, we know there is victory in our Lord.
God asks, Do you see what I see?
People who walk by sight see only opposition in the opportunity, like the ten spies. But people who walk by faith see opportunity in opposition, like Joshua and Caleb.
This year, may we be people who walk by faith to see clearly.
"People who walk by sight see only opposition in the opportunity, like the ten spies. But people who walk by faith see opportunity in opposition, like Joshua and Caleb."