As the Israelites were posed to enter the Promised Land, the Lord instructed Moses to send 12 men in to spy out the land. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.” Numbers 13:1-2
So they went up and spied out the land…And they returned from spying out the land after forty days. Numbers 13:21, 25 They returned and reported to Moses: …they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.” Numbers 13:26-29
… “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” Numbers 13:31-33
Nevertheless… as we read the entire account we see that of the twelve men sent to spy out the land, ten of them returned with a fearful report based only on what they saw. Although the land flowed with milk and honey (just as God promised) their focus was on all the hurdles saw.
They saw the descendants of Anak…all the people they saw were men of great stature…they saw giants…they were like grasshoppers in their own sight. Their report was based on what they saw.
If you know the events recorded in Numbers you already know that two of the twelve spies (Joshua and Caleb) went into Canaan along with the other ten, saw the same things the others saw but returned with an entirely different report for the people.
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” Numbers 13:30
But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.” Numbers 14:6-9
Caleb and Joshua were men of faith, believing God would do as He promised – that He would give Israel the land. “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel;” Numbers 13:2. God was keeping a promise He made to their ancestor, Abraham. That was their focus – what God promised, what they believed, what they knew — not what they saw.
I know this is a bit longer than my typical Victory Call but I need to set the scene leading to these questions for you: As you meditate on these excerpts from Numbers, where is your focus today? Are you more focused on what you see or on what God has promised? That begs the question, how well do you know God’s promises?
May God bless your pursuit of Him.
Diane Hunt served for 16 years on the staff of America’s Keswick until recently when she and her husband relocated to North Carolina. She now continues serving as a contributing writer and Partner Care consultant. Diane is also a Biblical Counselor, speaker, teacher, and author. She delights in the opportunities she has as a women’s conference and retreat speaker to share from God’s word. Many of her illustrations are drawn from her relational experiences as a wife, mother, and mema. They are the very relationships that bring her the greatest joy and the most fun!