Numbers 13:1-3, 17-20, 26-28a, 30-33: 1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “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.”
3 So Moses sent them from the Wilderness of Paran according to the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel.
17 Then Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountains, 18 and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; 19 whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; 20 whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not. Be of good courage. And bring some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes.
26 Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 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.28 Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large;”
30 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.”
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” 32 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.33 There we saw the giants[d] (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
Our family devotion book that we read each morning during breakfast with the girls highlighted this chapter from Numbers yesterday. I’ve heard this story (& sang the Sunday School song!) about the 12 spies sent to scope out the Promised Land most of my life and yet was so struck by the final few verses that I did a little more intentional reading on my own. A few elements stood out to me this time.
First, notice that God did not instruct Moses to send in spies to determine IF they were capable to take the land promised to them. He simply wanted them to go in and check things out. God’s instruction included the reminder of His promise: “…the land, which I am GIVING to the children of Israel…” God had already promised the deed to the magnificent land to His children. They just had to trust Him enough to move in at His prompting.
Secondly, Moses instructed the spies to survey all the land, which included all who lived there, the nature of the city, the wealth of the crops, and the overall makeup of their fortresses. “What are we up against?” was his general question. Even when you’re in a fixed fight it’s good to be prepared, right? “Bring back some of their crops for us all to sample”, Moses instructed. When the spies found that the crops were luscious and over-the-top in quality and abundance, they were amazed and had to carry them on a pole as a team of men!
Yet despite the blessings that lay before them, they couldn’t seem to get excited or motivated. Once again, the Israelites were tested to trust God to keep His Word. They had history with God and they had promises from God. Both showcased God as a faithful and abundant Provider. Still, they questioned His instructions. Again.
You’ve probably heard teaching or preaching on this text before if you’ve been a church attender for a reasonable amount of time. This passage will drive home the dangers of becoming “giant conscious” versus “grape conscious”! It’s typical of mankind to get caught up worrying and fretting over the potential hurdles and tragedies in our path and forget or overlook the abundant blessings that are all around us.
Despite Caleb’s encouragement and power-packed confession in verse 30, the remaining spies were determined to shrivel up in fear and doubt. They stepped over God’s promise and commandment, swept it behind them, and again fixed their focus on the potential dangers. But here’s where I gulped a little! Verses 31 & 32 embody what many a believer on the Lord Jesus Christ will do today. Caleb’s colleagues spoke fear to others about them, belittling Who God is and what He had promised. Their words created an environment depleted of faith, power, and confidence in God’s promise.
By the time we reach verse 33 we find the summary of the dilemma: There we saw the giants; and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” The spies saw themselves as grasshoppers and then assumed that was the same perception of their proposed enemy. My experience with spiritual warfare definitely lines up with this word picture. You can have the knowledge that God has given you victory in an area of your life. But until you BELIEVE it and ENFORCE it, that victory is not complete. God’s part is complete, but yours is not.
What giant are you facing today? If you perceive yourself to be less than victorious in confronting that situation, you will surely fail and take another round through the desert. But if you can muster your faith to visualize the grapes of God, the blessings and promises He has laid before you, you will slay that giant and will take ownership of BETTER for your life. No more grasshopper thinking! YOU’VE got the Promise of the Father!
Taking ground with victory,