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Scripture Reading – Numbers 13
Absolved of her sin and cured of leprosy, Miriam, the sister of Moses, was reunited with the children of Israel. The nation continued their journey and “pitched [their tents] in the wilderness of Paran” (12:16). The events recorded in today’s Scripture reading are among the most dynamic in Israel’s forty years of wanderings in the wilderness.
The LORD commanded Moses, “Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel” (13:2a).
Let us pause and reflect on God’s directive to Moses and those He chose to spy out the land of Canaan and its inhabitants. They were men (not women, children, or novices). They were men, chosen out of each tribe, “every one a ruler… [and] heads of the children of Israel” (13:2-3). They were respected leaders and men of influence. The Scripture records the names of the men and the tribes of origin from which they came (13:4-16).
Following the LORD’s commands, Moses gave the twelve men their marching orders: “Spy out the land of Canaan…see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many…[and] the land…whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds” (13:17-19). Moses challenged the spies to come back, report on the land, and “be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes” (13:20).
The spies departed and were gone forty days (13:25).
When they returned, they brought with them “a branch with one cluster of grapes” that was so laden with fruit the men “bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs” (13:23).
Two reports were given, with the first confirming the land was all the LORD had promised Israel, saying, “We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it” (13:27). The second report was an aspersion, a slander, a defaming of God’s promises, and stirred the hearts of the people with fear. The spies reported: “Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there” (13:28).
Moses had challenged the men to “be ye of good courage,” but the sight of the enemy had dispelled their faith and filled the void in their hearts with fear. Herein is a great lesson:
Fear is a sign of weak faith and exaggerates reality. Tragically, the fear of the spies eclipsed their faith!
Caleb, a leader of the tribe of Judah, spoke up and “stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (13:30). In Numbers 14, Joshua added his voice to Caleb’s challenge and urged the people, “8If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey” (14:8).
Ten of the spies sowed doubt among the people saying, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we…we saw giants…and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (13:31-33).
Where Caleb and Joshua saw an opportunity, the other spies saw insurmountable, frightening obstacles. What made the difference in their observations?
The difference was twofold: Focus and Faith. Caleb and Joshua did not focus on the size of the obstacles, but on the size [greatness and faithfulness] of their God. Their faith was not in their abilities, but in the Person and promises of the LORD. Israel’s enemy was not giants or the nations living in the land (13:28-29, 32-33). Israel’s enemy was her lack of faith in God.
Are you facing giants? Have you allowed fear and faithlessness to take hold of your heart and thoughts? Here is a promise: God has the solution to every problem you face and the resources to help you achieve every goal in His will! (Jeremiah 17:7)
Questions to consider:
1) Who did the LORD command Moses to send to spy out the land of Canaan? (Numbers 13:1-2)
2) How many spies did Moses send to spy on the land God had promised Israel for an inheritance? (Numbers 13:4-14)
3) Who said, “Let us go up at once…for we are well able to overcome” the enemies? (Numbers 13:30)
4) What was the “evil report” brought up by ten of the twelve spies? (Numbers 13:31-33)
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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