Trials of faith and the Bad Report


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Prayer, it is always a walk of faith and it is easy to believe in the things you see and that are obvious, but your test of faith will come when what you see does not line up with what you have asked for in prayer. When the long awaited "report" or thing you see is exactly opposite to what you had faith for, do you give up? Does your faith die when things look impossible? What if you get a bad doctor's report and accept it? Do you believe the doctor or do you believe God’s promise that by His stripes you were healed”(1 Peter 2:24)? If you choose to believe the doctor, then you will have to live with that bad report. If you choose not to believe the doctor and believe God and that He has already healed you, then you have the faith to be healed regardless of how bad things look.

Today we will study this challenge we face as believers and see if there are ways we can walk "by faith and not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7). God has provided us an Old Testament account of this very thing. Here we have promise after promise that God would give His people a land flowing with milk and honey; that God would deliver the inhabitants of this Promised Land over to them, God’s chosen people. Read with me the following account from the book of Exodus:

God's Promise

(Exodus 3:7) And Jehovah said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people that are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; (8) and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. If God spoke to you and promised you this land flowing with milk and honey would you believe Him or would you think that He is not mighty enough to do this for you?

(Exodus 3:17) and I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. Again the promise is made by God that He would bring them to an inhabited land of the Canaanites, Hittites and many others in order to give them the Promised Land.

(Leviticus 20:24) But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey: I am Jehovah your God, who hath separated you from the peoples. Time after time this promise was made to God's people. (Numbers 14:9) Only rebel not against Jehovah, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is removed from over them, and Jehovah is with us: fear them not. So here we have the promise from God to His people that He would both deliver them out of Egypt and then He would give them a land flowing with milk and honey; they just needed to trust God.

Next comes the command to spy out the land in which God has promised His people. (Numbers 13:1) And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, (2) Send thou men, that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a prince among them. (3) And Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran according to the commandment of Jehovah: all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel. Notice in verse 2 how God says that it's the land "which I give unto the children of Israel"? In other words, according to the Lord it was already a done deal; the promise land was already given to them!

The Two Reports

So Moses gives the command to God's children. (Numbers 13:17)  And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way by the South, and go up into the hill-country: (18) and see the land, what it is; and the people that dwell therein, whether they are strong or weak, whether they are few or many; (19) and what the land is that they dwell in, whether it is good or bad; and what cities they are that they dwell in, whether in camps, or in strongholds; (20) and what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there is wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the first-ripe grapes. (21) So they went up, and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, to the entrance of Hamath.

The report comes back from spying out the Promised Land.  And they returned from spying out the land after forty days. (26) Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. (27) Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. (28) Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. (29) The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.” (30) Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (31) But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” (32) And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. (33) There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” 

What was the report that came back to the people? It was this: “Yes, it is like the Lord said, it is a rich land flowing with milk and honey but there are giants in this land and we cannot conquer them for they are so big, so strong and we look like grasshoppers in their sight”. Yet Caleb tried to still the people and said “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it”. Caleb had FAITH in what God had promised. Caleb (and Joshua, the only other spy who came back with a good report) knew God would keep His promises. Everyone else did not have that faith in God. Even though they had just seen God's mighty hand in delivering them out of Egypt by the ten plagues, the Red Sea crossing, the manna from heaven and water out of the rock, they still did not believe God and instead believed the bad report. They believed what was seen and not the promise of God which was unseen. They walked by sight and not by faith!

God’s People React to the Bad Report

(Numbers 14:1) So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. (2) And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! (3) Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” (4) So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.” (5) Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. (6) But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; (7) and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. (8) If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ (9) Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.” (10) And all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Now the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel. (11) Then the LORD said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? (12) I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.” Instead of entering their Promised Land in faith for what God had promised them, they walked by their carnal senses: What they saw were giants, what they heard was a bad report, what they felt was fear; they also allowed their intellect and reason to be swayed against God and His promises. After all, how could just a small number of people defeat such a large number of giants and well armed warriors with fortified cities? They were looking at themselves and their strength instead of God and His strength. 

This is exactly what we often do in our lives, when we look at the seemingly impossible situation or the "Bad Report". Whenever we take our eyes off God, we will become fearful. Because of what we see and what we hear; because of our intellect we just know that our situation looks hopeless. Instead of having that child-like faith and believing God's Word, we have our faith in what's seen or that "Bad Report".

God’s Reaction to the Peoples Lack of Faith

(Numbers 14:18) Jehovah is slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation. (19) Pardon, I pray thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy lovingkindness, and according as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. (20) And Jehovah said, I have pardoned according to thy word: (21) but in very deed, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Jehovah; (22) because all those men that have seen my glory, and my signs, which I wrought in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have tempted me these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; (23) surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that despised me see it: (24) but my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land where into he went; and his seed shall possess it. We can see the Lord was not happy with the ten spies who gave the bad report to God's children, but what about the congregation who received and believed this bad report?

(Numbers 14:26) And Jehovah spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, (27) How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, that murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. (28) Say unto them, As I live, saith Jehovah, surely as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: (29) your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, that have murmured against me, (30) surely ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware that I would make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. (31) But your little ones, that ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have rejected. (32) But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. (33) And your children shall be wanderers in the wilderness forty years, and shall bear your whoredoms, until your dead bodies be consumed in the wilderness. (34) After the number of the days in which ye spied out the land, even forty days, for every day a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my alienation. (35) I, Jehovah, have spoken, surely this will I do unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die. (36) And the men, whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up an evil report against the land, (37) even those men that did bring up an evil report of the land, died by the plague before Jehovah. (38) But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, remained alive of those men that went to spy out the land. (39) And Moses told these words unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.

What was the punishment for the Israelites not believing God nor trusting Him? They were not allowed to enter into the Promised Land which God had promised and prepared for them. They would spend the next forty years wandering in the desert until they died. Even though God promised them that they would have this land, they were never allowed to possess it. Why? Because they chose to believe the bad report instead of God. They believed what they saw, what they heard and they believed their carnal senses instead of God.

Yet Caleb and Joshua followed God fully; they believed God’s promise. Even though they too had seen the giants, they trusted in their God. (Gal 3:11) The righteous shall live by faith. Caleb and Joshua lived by faith in what God had promised them and because they believed God instead of their eyes they were allowed to enter into that Promised Land. They had a good report and refused to waver even when the people wanted to stone them (Numbers 14:10).

Are We Like the Stiff Necked Israelites?

How could these people be so stiff necked and unbelieving? After seeing all of the wondrous miracles of God, they still did not believe His Word. How could they be so thick headed and unbelieving? It simply does not seem possible they could be so near sighted. Well, before we judge these Israelites, we should understand that they were no different than most Christians today. Let me explain.

(1 Cor 10:11) Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Yes what happened in the Old Testament was to be an example and teaching for us too. For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction (Romans 15:4). We are supposed to be learning from the mistakes the Israelites made in the wilderness but really we are no different from them. They were physical bloodline children of God; today it is Christians who are the children of God or as the Bible calls us "spiritual Jews". (Romans 2:28) For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; (29) but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter. So now in our new covenant there is a change concerning God's children. No longer is it by a physical bloodline or the actual country of Israel, now His children are those who believe and are born again. (Romans 9:6) For they are not all Israel who are of Israel...(8) That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. We are now the spiritual seed through Christ Jesus, the long promised Messiah.

Our Promised Land

Just like back then when they were in a physical wilderness, we as Christians are in a spiritual wilderness with our own trials and tribulations of life. We too are trying to enter the Promised Land where God answers our prayers. The Israelites had a physical Promised Land where they would be able to rest and be taken care of by the Lord. We too have that promised land from the Lord; not a physical or geographic land but a spiritual land of rest in what God promises us in His Word. Promises like, (Mark 11:24) All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye received them, and ye shall have them," and promises like, "come unto Me all that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28) This is our promised land! This is the prayer of faith promising that ALL THINGS are ours and that we'll receive them if we just believe it's already been given to us. This is our rest, this is our promised land. Do you really believe God when He says go and possess it, go and believe you have received and you will have it? If you do not believe this promise you are no different than the unbelieving Israelites. 

Here's another "promised land" for healing from the Lord, (1 Peter 2:24) by whose stripes you were healed. We were already healed by what Jesus did on the cross; the Word says that we are now to enter into that promised land of healing by faith. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (15) and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. (16) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed (James 5:14-16). This is our rest; this is our promised land for being healed from all things! Do you believe God when He says go and possess it, go and believe that I will heal you and it will be done? Are we any different than the disobedient children in the wilderness who didn't enter God's rest because of unbelief?

I hope you are starting to see your spiritual promised land and that you must enter into by faith, just like Caleb and Joshua. Let's look at another, (Matthew 18:19) “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven". Your prayer of agreement with another believer will be answered by the Father! How is this for a spiritual promised land? God says to go and possess it, go and believe my Word and you will have it.

I ask you again, if you are doubting and not believing God’s promises that you read in the Bible, are you any different than His unbelieving children in the wilderness who did not believe God? You cannot expect answers to your prayer unless you come into agreement with God’s Word. Then it will be done for you, then you can claim that promise or enter into your “promised land".

There are many more promises throughout the Bible that give us tremendous hope in the Lord. These are promises of rest and trust in the Lord which we see in the Word. These promises are the spiritual "promised land" for believers.

Are You in a Wilderness? 

Yet, most Christians like the unbelieving Israelites never enter into their promised land. They end up wandering aimlessly in a spiritual wilderness until they die before their time. All the wonderful promises we see in the Bible will do us no good unless those promises are united by faith. (Hebrews 4: 2) For indeed we have had good tidings preached unto us, even as also they: but the word of hearing did not profit them, because it was not united by faith with them that heard. Yes, we have the good news and all the promises of the Bible but it does us no good unless we united those promises with faith. The Bible is very clear; you can only receive the blessings and promises of the Bible IF they are united by your faith! What if you do not see those prayers or promises right away? (Hebrews 10:23) Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. In other words, you cannot believe what you see in the physical, you must only believe God's promise to you which you see in His Word. You must hold fast to your prayer and believe that God will be faithful to fulfill His promises to you. (Hebrews 11:6) And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.

You may see an immediate answer to your prayer, or you may not see it until later, but like this scripture says, “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering”. Remember “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). If you're going through life (your wilderness) by the things which you see, you will become fearful just like the Israelites and that fear will steal your faith. Any fear in what you are seeing will steal any faith you had in God's promises. Fear in what is seen will also cause you to doubt God's Word just like when the fear of the giants overtook God's children who then doubted God and His promise to them. If you are looking at what you see or if you are looking at the "giants" in your land, you too will be filled with fear causing you to doubt God's Word and we know what scripture says about doubting when you pray. (James 1:6-8) But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. (7) For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; (8) he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. Just as the Israelites doubted God and did not enter their promised land, neither will you if you walk by sight instead of faith. (Numbers 14:11) Then the LORD said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me! Can you imagine the Lord saying this to you when you reject Him by not believing His Word? If you are still wandering in your wilderness, this is why.

Trust and Obey!

To God there is nothing more important than believing Him and obeying Him. But my righteous one shall live by faith: And if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him (Hebrews 10:38). When you "shrink back" in your faith, the Lord is not happy with us. As believers we are supposed to be walking by faith in the Word of God and not what we see. (1 Cor 4:18) While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. To the Father, there is nothing more important than believing Him and His Word and God honors those who trust in Him. (Jeremiah 39:18) For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me,” says the LORD.’”    

Just like when Moses sent out spies to see the land in which the Lord promised them, your eyes and your ears are the spies for you. Think about it, it is your eyes and your ears which report back to you information that's contrary to your prayer and what contrary to what the Word of God says; they are the "spies" that are bringing you the "bad report".

When your eyes look at your body and see that there is something wrong, and your ears hear the "bad report" that comes from the doctor, who do you believe? "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor 5:7). Is your faith in the doctor and his bad report or God and His promise to heal you? Oh yes that is your  "giant"  and there is no denying it is there. Remember Joshua and Caleb also had seen their giants, but they responded differently because their faith in God was strong. “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it... The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them” (Numbers 13:30, 14:7-9). They seen the giants but knew their God would save them. When we also see the illness or sickness in our lives, then we too have God's Word in which we must believe. It is now Jesus "by whose stripes you were healed" who saves you from your sickness. You must have faith that you can be prayed for by other believers and because of Christ's sacrifice "they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Mark 16:18). Do you believe your carnal senses "your spies" or do you believe this word? (Mark 11:24) "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. This is our promise for everything not just healing. This is our giant killer! This is our sword! Now if you are fearful then you are still believing the "bad report". If you are calm and resting in God's promises, trusting that He will deliver you, then that is exactly what will happen, you will be delivered in God's perfect timing.      

So what bad report are you facing that looks impossible? What things do you have faith in that you're not seeing right now? Hold fast and continue to walk by faith and not by sight, for if you walk by sight you will see the giants and believe the bad report that says that God is not strong enough to do this for you. Then you too will “die in the wilderness” and will never see your prayers answered. Just “believe that ye received them, and ye shall have them”. You just continue believing in faith and just thank the Lord for answering that prayer. Even when you do not see the answer yet, you continue to thank the Lord for what He has given you! God does not lie, (Numbers 23:19) God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent. So if God gives you a promise in the Bible, believe it! (Gal 3:11) The righteous shall live by faith. If you do not believe are you any better than those rebellious children who refused to believe God and His promises? Remember, the Israelites who believed the bad report died in the wilderness.


There is nothing too hard for God if you just put your trust in Him and believe His Word. (Mark 9: 22) "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." (23) " 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." (24) Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Jesus says “everything is possible for him who believes!” Jesus also says in Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”. My friend, these are promises in God’s word that you need to stand on and believe. No matter what you see with your eyes! No matter what you hear with your ears! Here's what Jesus said when he received a "bad report" about a dead little girl. (MARK 5:35) While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?" (Does this sound like a bad report?) (36)  Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe." …. (39) He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." (40) But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. (41) He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" ). (42) Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old).

So whatever that “bad report“ is that you may be facing…. Ignore it and stand on the word of God! For those promises are for you... IF you unite them with your complete faith. Just do as Jesus said, "Don't be afraid; just believe." So don't walk by sight, walk by faith.

Will you trust God today? Will you believe God so you can enter into your Promised Land?


God bless,

Mark, a servant of the Lord,



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