“But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed out of the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah.” (Numbers 14:44–45, ESV)
I heard a television preacher quote one verse of Scripture and say something that astounded me. He stated, “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NKJV) Following the reading of this verse, he went on to say, “This means that if you have a plan, God will bless you.” He proceeded to give a 40-minute message on how to make a plan to do something.
The problem with this message is that it overlooks the sovereignty of God. While there is nothing wrong with planning, in fact it is a good thing, God is not obligated to bless all manmade plans. This statement and subsequent message by the TV preacher are examples of a flaw that many people have regarding faith. It is one of presumption.
In Numbers Chapters 13 and 14, we see the nation of Israel in a failed attempt to enter the Promised Land. In the last post, we looked at the problem of walking by sight rather than by faith in God to fulfill His promises. After Israel rebelled against the will of the Lord, the Lord pronounced a judgment on Israel. The entire generation that rebelled would wander in the wilderness for forty years until every one of them from the age of 20 years and upward, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, would die out. After hearing this, the Israelites become loaded with sorrow.
Needless to say, they were not very happy about wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. When they woke the next morning, they determined to go into the land stating, “Here we are. We will go up to the place that the Lord has promised, for we have sinned.” (Numbers 14:40, ESV). The only problem was that the Lord had already pronounced the judgment for their transgression. Moses even warned them not to go for they would fall by the sword. However, they would not listen, “they presumed to go.” so they went into the Promised Land and were soundly defeated.
Israels problem on this attempt to go into the Promised Land is highlighted by the phrase, “they presumed to go.” Presumption is not faith. Presumption happens when men decide on a course of action and expect God to join them. Faith is when men join God in what He is doing, believing that God’s plans and ways are the only path they should take.
We as believer can so easily fall into this terrible trap of presumption. It happens when church people come up with a ministry idea or follow another church’s ministry model and believe that by doing so the Lord will bless it. it happens when people decide to by a lottery ticket and believe if they pray hard enough that God will make their number win. Presumption boils down to the same problem as all faith failures. It is a trust in oneself. True faith is trusting in God’s sovereign plan, in seeking and doing His will, and in trusting Him in spite of the way things may look.