By Nathan Washburn
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Greenbrier
Faith is “the assurance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1a). If we’re hoping for something, how can we also be assured of it? Faith. It brings the future reality into the present and lives as if it exists now because it will one day be a present reality.
Faith is “the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1b). If we can’t see the unseen things, how in the world can we have a conviction they exist? Faith. It’s the connection between us and whatever we’re believing. We can’t comprehend the unseen by our senses, but by faith we know it’s there and it’s true.
We see faith on display in Caleb when he goes with the selected spies into the promised land to gather intel and bring back a report (Numbers 13). He believed with an unwavering faith that they were going to be given the land the Lord had promised. He was assured of what they’d hoped for.
Unwavering faith will go against the popular opinion. Caleb saw the same things everyone else did. He wasn’t naïve about what was lurking in the land they’d been given.
He saw the gigantic people. He saw the fortified cities. What was different was how he responded to what he saw. He so trusted that the Lord had given them the land that it didn’t matter what was in it because he knew the Lord was greater. So when the pressure was on and the popular vote was nearly unanimous that they were in deep trouble, Caleb refused to cower in fear and stood up against the defeatist rhetoric. The result was that he seemed a bit out-of-touch, if not delusional, to everyone else because his faith was so out of place. But it was right.
Unwavering faith in God means obedience to God. The people had come to a crisis of faith. Their future depended on whether they would trust the promise of God or not. They could listen to Caleb and Joshua who said “we are well able” (Numbers 13:30) or they could listen to those who said “we are not able” (v. 31). They listened to the latter and decided not to go into the land, despite Caleb and Joshua’s urging to obey the Lord. Their ensuing overreaction of loud crying and weeping was ridiculously presumptuous. Nothing had even happened, and yet there they were lamenting what they thought was going to take place. Oh how much of our weeping would be prevented by only trusting in God’s promises!
Unwavering faith pleases God. We read in Hebrews that the way to please God is by trusting in Him. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). We then read why. “For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”
It pleases God when we trust His word. It pleases Him when we trust He’s all-powerful. It pleases Him when we obey Him. And when unwavering faith prevails, reward awaits.
When the spies brought back their bad report, disagreeing in faith, Caleb stood alone. And several years later he stood alone again — on the very land he believed they’d take earlier. He was alone this time because the unbelieving never made it into the promised land — a reminder that faith divides and “those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:22).