Fear distorts reality.
Fear produces irrational responses.
Fear instigates mutiny.
These are the three effects of fear we've noticed so far from the teaching of Numbers 13-14. A posture of fear distorts reality by exaggerating the challenges. Because we no longer see reality as it is, our decision-making becomes questionable. If forced to press into the things that cause our fear, we often will go kicking and screaming - or not at all. Leaders who press into the things that cause fear may find their followers jumping ship. This is why making decisions that confront our fears is both courageous and costly.
There's one more effect of fear we see in this text: fear is a statement about God. God interprets our fear as a statement about him.
And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? – Numbers 14:11
God interprets our fear as a statement about him. You can say it’s the situation. You can say it’s the people you’re with. We can say all sorts of things to try to justify our fear, but God won’t let us isolate our fear. God interprets our fear as a statement of contempt against him. The taproot that feeds and nourishes fear is distrust of the Lord.
Do you see why this story is a treatise on the destructive nature of fear? It’s no wonder why the most frequent command in Scripture is: do not be afraid.
So what do we do about it? Stay tuned...