ODJ: Seeing Is Disbelieving

September 25, 2017 

READ: Deut. 1:6-8,19-33 

For we live by believing and not by seeing (2 Cor. 5:7).

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true”, said philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. The story of the Israelites illustrates how easy it is to be fooled into believing what’s false and to disbelieve the truth.

Two months after they left Egypt, the Israelites arrived at Mt. Sinai where God gave them the Law (Exodus 19:1). After eleven months there, God ordered them to move to the Promised Land, and they travelled to Kadesh-barnea—its southern border (Deuteronomy 1:6-8,19).

God assured them He had given them the land (vv.20-21). But the Israelites wanted to explore it and gather military intelligence to help them take possession of it (v.22; Numbers 13:17-20). God, however, had already told them that Canaan was a “fertile and spacious land . . . flowing with milk and honey”, and also about the people living there (Exodus 3:8). He had even set out a fail-proof military strategy for them (23:20-30): He would “fight for [them]” (Deuteronomy 1:30), protect them and bring them safely into the Promised Land (Exodus 23:20).

The Israelites saw that Canaan was “indeed a good land” (Deuteronomy 1:25). But they also saw that “the people of the land [were] taller and more powerful . . . their towns [were] large, with walls rising high into the sky!” And giants were roaming about (v.28). Based on what they saw, they concluded they wouldn’t be able to take possession of the land. Worse, they said God had brought them there “to be slaughtered”! (v.27).

Because they were living by sight instead of faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), what they saw led to fear, not faith (Deuteronomy 1:32). May we instead live by faith and trust in God and His promises.

—K.T. Sim

365-day-plan: Mark 15:6-24

Read 2 Cor. 4:18, 5:7 and Hebrews 11:1, 12:2 to see how you can learn to live by faith, not by sight. 
How does God’s promise in Deuteronomy 1:30-31 encourage and prepare you to fight for what’s true? How has “the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you travelled through the wilderness”?