Has He said, and will He not do it?
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 [j]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.”
I believe the spies in today’s text have gotten blamed for something that was not fully their fault. We often focus on the bad report that they gave to the Israelites and blame them for the forty years that the nation of Israel wondered in the wilderness. I want you to look closely though at the charge they were given by their leader, Moses. The text says: 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. 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? Now look at the charge Moses was given by God. The text says: 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, every one a leader among them.” What else did God say about the land? From the very beginning, while they were still in Egypt, In Exodus 3:17, 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."' God said He was going to give the land to the sons of Israel. God had already established that it was a good land, a land flowing with milk and honey. If God was going to give them the land, why was there concern about the size, the strength and the fortifications of the enemy? In Deuteronomy 7:17-24 God said: “If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: the great trials which your eyes saw and the signs and the wonders and the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. So shall the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. Moreover, the Lord your God will send the hornet against them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you perish. You shall not dread them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God. The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly, for the wild beasts would grow too numerous for you. But the Lord your God will deliver them before you, and will throw them into great confusion until they are destroyed. He will deliver their kings into your hand so that you will make their name perish from under heaven; no man will be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them.” Why did Moses raise questions and doubts? Why did he instill fear in them, rather than encouraging them in faith, with what God had said, What He had done and would do?
It wasn’t God’s fault that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years. He didn’t cause them to doubt. God doesn’t cause the things we struggle with or the things which cause us to wander outside of His promise. Yet as Romans 8:28-29 says: We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. God had taken the Israelites out of Egypt in one night, but it took forty years for God to take Egypt out of the Israelites. God used those forty years, caused by the doubts of the spies, doubts which Moses himself had instilled by his charge, to conform the Israelites to His image, to make them the people He desired. In the same way, it only took an instant for us to be delivered, to go from sinner to saved. It often takes much longer for us to fully conformed to His image.
What has God promised you? What has He said He would give you? Is the promise of God for you any less than the good promise He gave to the Israelites? Romans 8:31, after saying God causes all things to work together for our good, says: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? In Deuteronomy 31:6 God says: "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." Why do we look at our enemies when they are already defeated? Why do we concern ourselves with what may stand in our way? Why do we listen to those who would raise questions or doubts? Why do we listen and believe the bad report rather than the promise of God? Romans 8:35,37 says: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Numbers 23:19 says: “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Will we not be like Caleb, who said: “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” Trust God, possess His promise for you.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You that in an instant, through the power of the cross You saved me. Thank You for the promises You have spoken to me and for me. Forgive my doubt. Forgive me for listening to the bad report of others rather than to what You promised. Help me to walk fully in what You have already given me, conformed to the image of Christ, I am more than a conqueror. Amen.