Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes; And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place. Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God, Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.
God had shown Israel His mighty power by the wonders He did in Egypt. He had demonstrated a lot about who He is and the kinds of things He can do. And He showed these things to Israel before they really had to exercise any faith. They had been in a place—in bondage in Egypt—where they had nothing to lose. They were at the bottom. They were enslaved. They were helpless. And God delivers them and brings them out, proving that He can do hard and impossible things.
When they got to the promised land, it wasn’t like they had to blindly trust some new God. It was this same God who was with them when they reached that edge and peered into the glorious land that awaited them. But now they had something to lose, and it was a little harder for them to have faith. God Himself had carried them this far, but even with His arms upholding them, they acted as if they’d gotten to this point on their own.
We will never be willing to take a step of faith if we focus only on ourselves. We will never be able to move forward by faith when we dismiss or forget what God has done, when we can’t recognize that He is carrying us already. We will always give in to our fear and be overwhelmed by our circumstances when we lose that focus and understanding of God. We have to learn to trust, and we do so by exercising our faith. It should grow as we follow the Lord, not diminish, as we keep taking those steps.
God’s presence had constantly been with Israel. He had provided. He had protected. He was closely involved in personally leading them. And yet they would refuse to follow Him when the finish line was in sight and the prize was almost in hand. But how often do we do the same thing? We understand that we should have faith in God, but when that challenge arises, will we actually have faith? May we live with an understanding that God is always faithful. Let us not get sidetracked so much that we can’t even feel His arms carrying us along, but may we trust Him with a childlike faith of total dependence and confidence.