See the Land, the Good Land, I have Given You.
Numbers 13:1-33 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, 2 “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, every one a leader among them.” 3 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. 4 These then were their names: from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur; 5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori; 6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh; 7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph; 8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun; 9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu; 10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi; 11 from the tribe of Joseph, from the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi; 12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli; 13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael; 14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi; 15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi. 16 These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land; but Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.
17 When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, he said to them, “Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many. 19 How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications? 20 How is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.
21 So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, at Lebo-hamath. 22 When they had gone up into the Negev, they came to Hebron where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
23 Then they came to the valley of Eshcol and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two men, with some of the pomegranates and the figs. 24 That place was called the valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the sons of Israel cut down from there.
25 When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days, 26 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. 27 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. 28 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. 29 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.”
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.” 31 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.” 32 So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad 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. 33 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.”
It is well known that the nation of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before entering the Promised Land. What is sometimes missed or forgotten is that those 40 years of wandering were not part of God’s original plan for Israel. Today’s text is the account of what went wrong, why the Israelites wandered for 40 years rather than possessing the promise of God. In Numbers 14:33-34, after what happens in today’s text God says: Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. So what went wrong? Why did God turn against the Israelites and change from His original plan for them?
There were 12 men selected to spy out the land, one leader from each tribe of Israel. In today’s text we see that 2 men, Joshua and Caleb brought back a good report, encouraging the Israelites to go and take possession of the land God promised. Ten of the men though gave a bad report. The text says: “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.” 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.” 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 out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out… The first, obvious lesson we can learn from this is that the majority is not always right. Just because more people, or the most vocal part of a group, culture or society believes and promotes something it does not make it right. Groups of people can easily be influenced and manipulated by partial truths, distorted facts and hype. We see it in our culture and society today, many people supporting or protesting things which they have very little actual knowledge of. The danger of mob rule can be seen also in the crucifixion of Jesus. The multitudes who eagerly greeted and praised Him as He entered Jerusalem before the Passover, were the same ones who were stirred by a small group of vocal and manipulative leaders to call for Jesus crucifixion. That is why God ordains order and authority. That’s why the founders of our nation did not create a democracy, where the majority or in some cases the mob rules in spite of what is right.
Let’s look though beyond the opposing opinions of the spies. Let’s look past the ten vs two and try to see and understand the root of what happened. What did God say? 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.” God said they were to spy out the land He was going to give them. When Moses sent them out, what did he say to them? “Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country. See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many. How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications? How is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” Moses added to God’s words and His commandment. Isn’t that one of the primary tactics of the devil, to cause us to question or add to God’s word? Isn’t that how he deceived Eve in the garden? God had already told the Israelites it was a good land. In Exodus 3:17, while they were still in Egypt, God said: "So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey."' Moses asked them to verify if the land was good or bad, even though God said it was good. In addition, God never meant for the spies to be concerned with the strength, the numbers, the size or the fortifications of the land’s inhabitants. God said He was going to give the land to the Israelites. The current inhabitants were not their problem or concern, they were God’s and He was not concerned.
We too have been promised an inheritance from God. We have been given all the blessings and promises of the kingdom of heaven. They are ours through the victory Christ won on the cross. God only sent the spies in so they would see the promise. He didn’t want them to see and focus on what stood in their way. We too, need to see and know the promises of God. Then seeing and knowing them, we need to walk in and possess what God has given. We need to not listen to those who would raise questions or doubts, to those who would question or add to what God has already said. The Israelites wandered for 40 years because they believed a false report. Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Whose report will you believe? Will you wander or possess?
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for all You have promised me, for the marvelous inheritance You have given me through the cross and the resurrection. Holy Spirit help me always to see, to hear and to know only what God has said and to listen to no other voice, that I may walk in the fullness of my inheritance in Christ. Amen.