Matthew 13:58-Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Unbelief can block a miracle. As I am growing in my understanding of the workings of miracles, I have come to believe that God wants us to live in the realm of impossible possibilities.
The Israelite people wavered between faith and unbelief all throughout the Old Testament passages which is interesting because they had so much personal experience with the workings of miracles. In Numbers 13 and 14 God promised the Israelites that He would lead them into the Promised Land. He asked Moses to send some people ahead to spy out the land and see for themselves the amazing quality of the land He was giving to them. So, Moses sent one person from each of the 12 tribes out. Two of those 12 were Joshua and Caleb. Forty days later, the spies came back and 10 of the 12 spies came back with a negative report about the land. They were full of unbelief. They saw the land which was awesome and the crops growing in the land which were awesome, but they focused on some tall people they saw as powerful that they called giants who were living in the land. They came back and told the people, “There is NO WAY we can take the land” even though God said He was giving it to them.
They missed out on their Promised Land miracles. God punished them by telling them that none of that unbelieving older generation except Joshua and Caleb would step foot into the Promised Land. They would wander for 40 years in the wilderness; one year for each of the forty days they had spent spying out the land. Listen, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get to the edge of my miracle and then miss it! What can we learn and apply to our own lives about faith and unbelief from the Israelites missed Promised Land?
1. People of faith take God at His Word. People of unbelief allow other people and circumstances to speak in place of God.
God had repeatedly told His people He was taking them somewhere. If He gives you a Word it is a promise that will be kept. What happened in the story of the missed Promised Land was that the people listened to people instead of God. If there are people in your life that are speaking negatively about your walk with God, about your pursuit of faith, about your desire to grow as a Christian, about your faith to believe for miracles, don’t give them authority over your Promised Land.
Regarding the circumstances you face, you cannot let them speak louder to you than the voice of truth, than the voice of God. Trust the Word of God over negative people. Trust the Word of God over negative circumstances. It cannot fail.
2. People of faith have a positive report. People of unbelief have a pattern of murmuring and complaining.
God has given us authority to speak life and to speak with authority. Jesus told His disciples in Mark 11:23 to speak to mountains and see them be hurled into the sea! Caleb and Joshua got to go into the Promised Land because they spoke positively and in agreement with what God had said and with what God could do.
The Israelites were whiners and complainers. It wasn’t just that they were having a bad day, but this was a pattern for them. It was a way of life. Negativity and murmuring, no matter what the topic is, will shut down the flow of miracles into your life. It could be constant negativity about politics, it could be constant negativity about your boss, it could be constant negativity about your family, it could be constant negativity about where you think you are in life. If your focus is on the negative you are going to miss the positive as it is walking by, and you may also cause other people to miss their Promised Land miracle as well. Ten negative people influenced an entire nation to miss God’s best for them.
3. People of faith trust the heart and character of God. People of unbelief question God’s heart and motives.
Look back at Numbers 14:3-4 3 Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
The Israelites questioned God’s agenda for them. They assumed the worst. They alleged God was toying with them and that He wasn’t a Promise Keeper. They believed He had forsaken them. They were wrong on every level. God is love. I John 4:8 If you can settle that, you can live settled even in an unsettling circumstance. If you live always questioning the character of God, it will diminish your faith.
4. People of faith move forward with courage and strength. People of unbelief allow fear to control them.
Look back at verse 9 where Joshua and Caleb talked to the people about their fears:9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” I could almost read that last sentence as Joshua and Caleb saying, “Stop being afraid!” Notice in this verse that fear and rebellion go together. We can’t rebel and walk by faith at the same time.
Hebrews 3:12 says, “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.”
The danger of unbelief goes beyond us missing a miracle. It involves us missing Heaven. This verse in Hebrews calls unbelief a sin. Wow.
God wants us to live in the realm of impossible possibilities. Perhaps it is time we start living like we believe it.