Intimidation is a powerful force. Just the very thought of a painful future can change what a person believes.
Did you know it is possible to be spiritually intimidated? Follow this line of reasoning: Satan can radically influence this world’s people and events (1 John 5:19); Satan’s primary goal is to cause people to doubt the power and goodness of God (Job 1:9-11; 2:4-5, 9). If Satan can intimidate people to doubt God’s provision and protection, he has won the battle
We have to discover how to turn intimidation into inspiration as we live in a fallen world. Let’s look at examples of both: caving to intimidation and conquering intimidation—and finally, changing intimidation to inspiration.
Caving to Intimidation
One of the best examples of caving to intimidation happened in the Sinai desert. The redeemed Hebrews had spent two years making their way to the edge of the Promised Land of Canaan. They believed God’s promise that they would inherit “a good and large land… flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8).
When they arrived at the southern edge of Canaan, Moses sent twelve men into the land to survey it and report back.
When the spies returned, ten were totally intimidated by what they saw. Yes, the land was good and the fruit abundant. But the people were giants! And their cities were walled! Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, witnessed the same things as the ten intimidated spies. But they saw them with the eyes of faith instead of fear.
Nonetheless, the entire assembly of the people caved to fear and intimidation and refused to go into Canaan. And they spent 38 more years in the wilderness regretting their decision as the next generation rose to take up the challenge.
The ten spies were intimidated by what they saw—big people and big cities. They projected what they saw in Canaan into the future; they saw themselves being slaughtered by the Canaanites.
Joshua and Caleb saw the same things as the ten. But they projected into the future what they had seen in the past—God delivering them from the powerful Egyptian pharaoh and his army.
The ten Hebrew spies are an example of what happens when we walk by sight instead of by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). They caved to intimidation.
If anyone had a right to be intimidated, it was Gideon. But he conquered his initial intimidation and turned the tables on his enemies by intimidating them!
The large Midianite army had invaded Canaan (Judges 6–7). God chose Gideon, a young farmer, to defeat them. He was a member of the weakest clan in the tribe of Manasseh and the weakest person in his father’s household (Judges 6:15).
So how did Gideon conquer his intimidation? God gave Gideon a strategy, and he implemented it: Take three hundred men, space them around the edge of the Midianite camp at night, then light the torches, blow the trumpets, and watch what happens. The Midianite army was so intimidated by what they saw that they fled in confusion, and Israel was saved. Again, intimidation comes from walking by sight rather than by faith.
But conquering intimidation comes from obeying God’s “strategy for living,” otherwise known as God’s Word.
Changing Intimidation to Inspiration
How can we be inspired to trust God instead of caving to intimidation? These three strategies are key:
1. Renew your mind. This is the principle of Romans 12:2—proving what the will and purpose of God is by renewing our mind. We do that by continually meditating on the Word of God.
2. Reject fear. What is the root word in “intimidation”? It is timid. But “God did not give us a spirit of timidity” (2 Timothy 1:7, RSV)! What are the antidotes to timidity? The power, love, and sound mind we have been given in Christ. When they are present, we are inspired to trust God fearlessly.
3. Replace sight with faith. What you see in your bank account, hear in the news, see in your family’s life, hear in your doctor’s office . . . can be intimidating. But these can also be moments of inspiration—moments where you choose to walk by faith instead of by sight and hearing (2 Corinthians 5:7).
This world can be a scary place. But we don’t have to be scared. Turn intimidation into inspiration by trusting God’s power and provision now and in the future.
David Jeremiah is the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church and the founder and host of Turning Point for God. For more information about Dr. Jeremiah or Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.
In Dr. Jeremiah’s latest prophecy book, The Great Disappearance: 31 Ways to be Rapture Ready, he examines the next event on God’s prophetic timetable, the Rapture. This is not a book of doom and gloom or a sensational read about setting dates, but one of hope and joy as we see the promise of God’s plan unfold all around us and grasp the power of the prophetic text surrounding the Rapture. Calling this “prophecy motivation,” these 31 easy-to-read short chapters will inspire you to live boldly and expectantly in today’s world.