Updated: Nov 19, 2022
Two Kinds of Vision
Princeton Christian Church 20 November 2022
Numbers 13:1-3, 25-33; Numbers 14:1-12, 36-38 Proverbs 29:18
There are two ways of looking at any of the circumstances in our life. We can look at it with ordinary human sight–which is based on what can be done only through human power. On the other hand, we can look at those same circumstances with spiritual vision–which is based on what can be done only through God’s power. Spiritual vision can be defined as what God puts in our hearts to do when the spiritual need is great and our hearts are filled with the concerns of God.
We will look at a man named Caleb today. Caleb was a man of spiritual vision. He believed Canaan could be conquered because he believed in God’s power.
I recently read this story which is a great illustration of the difference between human vision and spiritual vision. About 350 years ago a shipload of Dutch settlers traveled 3000 miles, by ship, from Holland to the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year, the people of the town tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public resources to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway? Here were people who had a vision to be able to see three thousand miles across an ocean to a new homeland and overcoming great obstacles to get there. However, in just a few years they could not even see five miles out of town. They had lost the vision that got them there in the first place. In its place they had settled for just ordinary human sight.
This morning we are going to look at a man from the tribe of Judah. Caleb was a leader in the tribe of Judah. This morning we will see from the example of the life of Caleb a very important weapon that all of us should have in our spiritual sight if we are going to continue to be useful to God’s continued Kingdom development here in the Church. The weapon that Caleb possessed is the weapon of spiritual vision.
As we look Caleb’s story in the Old Testament book of Numbers, we can see that we always have a choice when we deal with the situations that face us in life. We can choose to deal with these situations as we look at them through the eyes of spiritual vision, or we can choose to deal with these situations as we look through the eyes of our own ordinary human sight.
For example, when you face any of life’s problems, perplexities, trials, and tribulations you can chose to view those things either with spiritual vision or with ordinary human sight. When tragedy strikes or sickness enters your life, or the death of a loved one occurs, or some kind of calamity comes your way, you can choose to view those things either with spiritual vision or with ordinary human sight. When we look at the wickedness, immorality, spiritual antagonism, and hedonism that pervades the world we live in, and we understand that God has called His church to be a force against this evil and ungodliness, we have to make a choice - to view our task ahead of us with supernatural spiritual vision or ordinary human sight.
It all comes down to this. Do we have spiritual vision that is instilled with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and is in tune with the Power of God Almighty who raised Jesus Christ from the dead? Or do we have ordinary human sight that is based only on what we think we can accomplish by ourselves.
As the Israelites were journeying out of Egypt, Moses sent out spies to check out the land of Canaan.
Numbers 13:1-3: Then the LORD spoke to Moses saying, "Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, everyone a leader among them." So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran at the command of the LORD, all of them men who were heads of the sons of Israel.
Now remember, for two years, several million Israelites have been traveling through the desert from Egypt to Canaan.
The Israelites had seen God do some incredible works in their midst during this time that got them to this place.
1) God destroyed Pharaoh and his entire army just after the entire nation of Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry ground.
2) God had given them laws to govern them that had been written by his very finger on tablets of stone.
3) God had provided food and water for them when they had none.
4) God defeated enemy nations along the way who wanted to destroy His chosen people.
5) God gave them the encouragement of His visible presence by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night.
6) God put down rebellion among the leadership when it rose against Moses.
7) Each of these powerful acts of God was designed for the purpose of getting His people safely to the Promised Land of Canaan.
At the southern edge of Canaan, the nation of Israel was about to realize the promise made to their original patriarch, Abraham, about a promised land of their own. But, before they would take possession of the land, Moses did some spying out of the land.
Moses sent spies ahead to check out the condition of the land, to discover the best route to enter the land, and to report on the condition of the city states that occupied the territory.
From each of the 12 tribes, Moses chose one man who was a recognized leader of each tribe–to join this undercover operation. This was something like an elite military commando unit chosen to go behind enemy lines. For a month and a half, these men cautiously traveled through the land watching, looking, counting, measuring and taking notes on what they saw.
They started at the southern border of Canaan and went all the way up to the northern edge. Along the way, they saw the most incredible thing they had ever seen.
They cut down a huge cluster of grapes that was so big that it took two men to carry the pole on which they hung this cluster.
After 40 days, they returned to the desert in the south and reported to Moses what they had seen.
There were two things the spies saw.
1. Numbers 13:25-29 25: When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days, they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land. Thus they told him, and said, "We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.” "Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.” "Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan."
2. First, they saw the abundance, variety, size, and quality of the crops that were growing in this land. They showed Moses and the entire nation of Israel the gigantic grapes that they had carried back as proof that the land was flowing with milk and honey.
1) A land flowing with milk and honey means it was a land that had great pastures that could sustain cattle; and it had fields of blossoms from which bees could make the sweet delicacy of honey that they had gone without for so long.
2) If you have ever been on an all-protein diet, you understand the craving for sweets that this honey analogy spoke to this nation that had been on an all protein diet for two years.
3. Secondly, they saw the inhabitants of the land–they were powerful fighting soldiers in every city.
The cities were very well fortified cities designed to withstand the continuous attacks of large armies. The soldiers themselves were 9 feet tall and weighing over 650 pounds each.
II. There are two ways to look at Canaan through ordinary human sight or Godly spiritual vision.
The view of the ten spies.
The majority group was unanimous in their opinion. These, of course, were the ten spies.
They demonstrated what would be known as "ordinary human sight,” in their report. These ten leaders looked at the land and came to the conclusion that it could not be conquered.
Look at Numbers 13:31-33: But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us." So they gave a negative report of the land, which they had spied out, saying, "The land, through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."
All of this was very true. In the land of Canaan at this time in history, the Israelites were facing some of the meanest, strongest, biggest, maddest, and cunning groups of people the world had ever seen. Therefore, with their ordinary sight, the 10 spies said, "We can’t attack those people."
Remember, though, there were 12 spies who went out to survey the land. And that was the view of ten of the spies.
So, that was one way of looking at the circumstances they faced.
But now, let’s look the view from Caleb’s eyes and mind. This minority group was made up of the other two spies - Caleb and Joshua. Caleb was their spokesman. He and Joshua saw the exact same things as his 10 fellow spies saw. Yet his opinion was the direct opposite of that given by the majority.
Numbers 13:30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, "We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it."
The second way of looking at the task at hand was to view it through the eyes of spiritual vision, rather than ordinary human sight.
Caleb basically said, "Yes, I know we are facing some of the meanest, strongest, biggest, maddest groups of people the world has ever seen. Nevertheless, I have not forgotten what God is capable of doing. After all, God provided manna and quail for us to eat in the desert.
He provided water when we needed it from the most unlikely sources. He destroyed the entire army of Egypt when they chased after us–and we did not ever have to lift a finger.
An evangelist from more than a century ago, Billy Sunday, once said (about 100) years ago, "What we see as we go through life always depends upon where we stand to look. Many a man who tries to talk as if he were standing on a mountain, shows by what he says that he is up to his eyes in the mud."
And that is the difference between these two reports:
1) The spiritual vision of Caleb’s report,
2) The ordinary human sight of the 10 spies’ report.
Caleb and his friend Joshua were standing on the mountain of spiritual vision–knowing God, trusting God, having experienced God, and not forgetting what God was capable of doing.
However, the 10 spies were up to their eyes in the mud of ordinary human sight-seeing only what they could do under their own power.
Spiritual vision or ordinary human sight all depends on your point of view. It all depends on how you look at the circumstances you find yourself in.
Caleb and Joshua viewed their circumstances from the mountain top of what God could do, while the other 10 spies viewed the land from the mud of what only they could do.
Spiritual vision looks to God and God alone.
Ordinary human sight looks to man and man alone. There are some things we must guard against. This is where we have to be wise, godly, and rise above our natural inclinations.
You see, the natural tendency–the majority opinion–is always going to view things from the mud, not the mountain top. In fact, this is what the entire nation of Israel did.
Look at Numbers 14:1-4: Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, "Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! “” Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?" “So, they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.” Here is the scary consequence of ordinary human sight.
God will withdraw His blessing from a church or a group of people He calls to a great task, even though its leaders have keen spiritual vision, but the people do not.
Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb–the godly leaders of the nation of Israel, pleaded with the nation to get out of the mud and climb the mountain.
Numbers 14:5-9 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, "The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. "If the LORD is pleased with 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; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them."
Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb were all godly leaders with spiritual vision. They believed in God’s power, over against the power of circumstances and problems and trials and tribulations. They operated with vision, not ordinary human sight. Nevertheless, even though they had it, the nation refused to accept it.
5. Numbers 14:10-12 10But all the congregation said to stone them with stones Then the glory of the LORD appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel. 11The LORD said to Moses, "How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? 12"I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they."
a. If you read farther, you will see that only the interceding of Moses on behalf of the nation saved them from this destruction.
b. However, if you do read the rest of chapter 14, you will see that God refused to let this generation of people participate in the blessing of possessing the land.
c. They wandered in the desert for 40 years until every adult died off who chose the view from the mud, rather than the view from the mountain.
6. If you aspire to leadership in the Church of the Living God, let me caution you. God demands people of spiritual vision, and will not tolerate people of ordinary human sight.
Look at Numbers 14:36-38: As for the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land and who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing out a bad report concerning the land, even those men who brought out the very bad report of the land died by a plague before the LORD. But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive out of those men who went to spy out the land.
Being a leader within the Church is not for wimps. Leaders in God’s church must be persons of spiritual vision.
If we are going to do the Great Commission in our location here and in the world, we must always view from things from the mountain top of spiritual vision and we must never view things from the mud of natural ordinary human sight.
We must understand that what we attempt is something that may be so impossible that, unless God is in it, it is doomed to failure.
That is spiritual vision. That is what we are being called to demonstrate.