“But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge.” – Numbers 13:30-32
After God had miraculously rescued the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, parted the Red Sea for their escape, and led them through the wilderness to Mount Sinai, He gave them His law that was to govern their nation and their worship. From there, He led them across the desert via a cloud of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire at night until they arrived at the edge of the land He’d promised to give them. At this point, the Lord instructed Moses to send 12 spies to view the land before the rest of the Israelites entered it.
So, Moses sends out twelve spies (13:3-20). The spies were gone for forty days and while there they observed two things. First, the land was beautiful and fruitful. Second, the people who inhabited the land were huge and powerful (Numbers 13:21-24). Ten of the spies said that the Israelites would be foolish to try and go up against the strong armies that inhabited the land. They’re seeing with the eyes of fear. They can’t go in. They are afraid and as a result, say they can’t go in and possess the land God has promised. However, two of the spies (Joshua and Caleb) said they’d be foolish not to go up and take what God had promised to give them. (Numbers 13:25-33). Because of a lack of faith, the Israelites spent the next forty years wandering in the desert instead of experiencing the power and faithfulness of God in the Promised Land.
The question is are we more like the ten spies or like Caleb and Joshua? I would hope we would be like Caleb and Joshua who had not forgotten all of the miraculous things God had done right before their eyes. “And the Lord said to Moses, How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?” (Numbers 14:11) We need to intentionally keep track of what God is doing around us and constantly remind ourselves of what God has done in the past. God’s assignments are always too big for us to handle but, as Scripture and history show us that it is very easy to back down in fear. But fear does not advance the kingdom of God, faith does. Way too often we make decisions out of fear instead of in faith.
So what is the Canaan in each one of our lives? I want you to possess the next decade with faith. I don’t want you to get stuck in the wilderness for those years. Is there anything that we are backing down from in fear when God is challenging us to step up in faith and trust His power and faithfulness?
- How is this story similar to how people respond to news stories today?
- Read Numbers 14:11-12: How did God respond to the 12 spies report?