Are there Amorites in your Attic?
Missing the Opportunities by Focusing on the Problems
In the 13th chapter of the book of Numbers Moses has led the people of God right up to the doorstep of the Promised Land. In preparation for their invasion he sends in 12 spies to inspect the land and bring back a report: “Be of good courage, and bring back some of the fruit of the land (Num. 13:20).” One man representing each of the 12 tribes joined together and traveled into and through the land for 40 days.
Upon their return they had good news and bad news. The good news was this: “It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit (Num. 13:27)” as they displayed a large vine filled with grapes before their eyes. But there was, as they perceived it, bad news also: “the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea…” (Num. 13:29). Mountains and oceans were fantastic pieces of real estate. Hills provided protected positions on which to build strong cities and easily-defended walls. The sea offered almost unlimited fishing and commerce opportunities. The Promised Land was not a barren desert. But for at least 10 of the 12 spies they were almost blinded to the opportunities because they chose to focus on the problem, namely “the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea.”
Application 1: When we focus upon the problems we miss the opportunities. Where are the Amorites and the Canaanites in your life today? That is, what are the problems and challenges that are drawing your focus away from the promises of God? Are you afraid to take on some new spiritual challenge because you are afraid you might fail? When is the last time you dared to attempt anything great for the Lord? Many Christians, like those 10 spies, find themselves living stagnant lives for Christ because of unbelief. In John Bunyan’s classic on spiritual warfare entitled The Holy War, he describes the difficulty encountered when trying to purge the town of “Mansoul” (an allegory of the Christian man or woman) of doubts. He says “Mr. Unbelief as a nimble Jack; him they could never lay hold of, though they attempted to do it often.” So it is that many believers find themselves entirely weakened and helpless before their doubts. The Amorites and the Canaanites have control. Are there Amorites in your attic, ruling your thoughts and controlling your actions?
A life that is dominated by negative thoughts like “it can’t be done” or “it will never work” or “this will never change” is neither honoring to Christ nor helpful to us. The weeds of depression grow rapidly in the soil of doubt. The Christian missionary, William Carey, had a different outlook. He preached a sermon on Isaiah 54:2-3 which prophesied the increase of God’s people: “your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited.” Carey rallied a missionary spirit on the basis of these promises, saying to his hearers: “expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”
Carey saw the “mountains” and the “seas” and refused to focus on the “Amorites” and “Canaanites” that presently stood in the way. Caleb, one of the spies who refused to surrender to unbelief, said to the nation “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” What about you and me? Will we continue to be satisfied with a low meager living of the Christian life and never dare to trust in the power of God to do great things? The Apostle Paul put it this way “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Application 2: We cannot enjoy God’s blessings without first dealing with our sin. Just as the Amorites and Canaanites must be eliminated before Israel could enjoy the land, so our sins must be fully dealt with before you or I can begin to enjoy fellowship with God. And we must deal with our sin in the only effective way possible: repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The Amorites and Canaanites would not leave on their own. They knew Israel was coming. Word had spread throughout the land about what God had formerly done for His people in delivering them from Egypt. But they were prepared to fight rather than flee. So it is with our sins. They will not go away on their own. They cannot be coddled or corrected to become virtues. They are black stains on our record, debts too large to pay, offenses too great to overlook. Our sin, unforgiven, will condemn us. Just as the unbelieving spies said of the land of Canaan “the land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants (Num. 13:32).” Sin, not repented of, will likewise devour and destroy us all.
Reader, the cross of Jesus Christ is the place where God once and for all dealt with sin. It is the cross you must go to. It is the cross you must flee to. You cannot inherit God’s blessings while the guilt of sin still hangs over us. God is too holy to overlook sin, but He is so good He has promised to forgive it for all who come to Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life though Jesus Christ our Lord.”