19-21 Then we set out from Horeb and headed for the Amorite hill country, going through that huge and frightening wilderness that you've had more than an eyeful of by now—all under the command of God, our God—and finally arrived at Kadesh Barnea. There I told you, "You've made it to the Amorite hill country that God, our God, is giving us. Look, God, your God, has placed this land as a gift before you. Go ahead and take it now. God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, promised it to you. Don't be afraid. Don't lose heart."
Kadesh-Barnea was an Amorite occupied territory. The Amorites occupied a pretty strategically protected hill country region and were often described in historical writings as a "people of great stature". In other words, they were tall - handsome men and beautiful women. They occupied the territory where we'd consider Jerusalem today and the regions around that area (Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine). Forty years before, Israel had been presented this land and were so intimidated by the size of these nomadic dwellers that ten of the twelve spies said there was no way to defeat them. That one report kept the Israelites traveling in the desert wilderness for over forty years!
It sometimes catches me a little by surprise at how quickly we can believe the first report we receive! We don't take time to consider all the facts - we just launch into an opinion about the way something must be by the first impressions that we have formed. I guess that is why we say that you never have a chance to make a first impression again! The fact was that God had given them this land - it was set before them just for their taking. It was a gift that was part of a covenant God had made years before with Abraham. That should have been enough for them - the promise of God. Yet, consider yourself here - we have tons of promises from God laid out for us in the Word and yet choose which ones we will believe and those that we will reject!
The truth is that God never makes a provision without the ability to take possession of that provision. It is a twofold process - promise of provision and promise of ability. Here's the truly amazing thing about God - what he promises, he also provides the full measure of faith to accomplish. Yet, the Israelites choose to send spies into the land - just to check it out! It was kind of like putting your toes in the water to test the temperature. Isn't it silly how many times that little "testing of the water" keeps us from actually taking the "big plunge"? That is exactly what it did for the Israelites!
When we take the element of faith that God gives us and use it to "test the waters" instead of "plunging in", we are really arguing that what God has provided might not be worth the effort! Faith (true faith) does not need to "spy out" what God has given! If God extends grace in the form of a provision within our lives - all we need to do is step into it! Plain and simple.
"Testing the waters" is really a form of unbelief. It is us revealing our true heart condition - we don't trust God to give us what we need, things that are for our benefit. This grieves God terribly - yet, he knows that without the "testing" we'd never take the first step. So, sometimes he allows it - even though is hurts his heart for us not to trust him fully the very frist time he makes the promise.
As we grow up in our faith, we find that we "test the waters" a whole lot less than we did earlier in our walk. This is a result of us finding that God is extremely trustworthy! What he says, he will accomplish! So, whether you are in the place of "testing the waters" or are simply "taking the plunge", God's promises remain true. God's hopes for us is that we will soon move from needing to "spy out" everything he has planned for us and will just move forward in fearless faith.