Numbers 13:1-2,17-20,25-28,30-31 The Lord now said to Moses, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes”... Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: “Go north through the Negev into the hill country. See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps? Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.” (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes)... After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!... 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!”
It seems the Israelites reached the end of their journey pretty soon but for the presence of the giants in Canaan.
Why did God instruct the Israelites to go see the land He was about to give them when the land was occupied by hostile people?
When we read such passages, we sometimes are caught in the larger themes and miss the subtleties that help us see the passage more clearly.
To start with, God's instructions to Moses was that this was the land He was giving them and they were to go and explore it to know it is beautiful.
The instructions given to the leaders was simple and they needed only to bring back a report. Do note that the 12 men who were sent out were respected men of Israel and the people valued their report.
God chose the best of Israel to go and scout the land and they went knowing that they were the chosen people of God going into a land God was about to give them.
Everything in the report they brought back was proof that this was the land they would be privileged to live in except for the report on the hostile giants.
Is it not amazing that the Israelites who had lived in the harsh desert were willing to continue to journey in the desert and not live in the beauty of the land God was directing them towards?
The fear of giants eclipsed the faith they had in God who brought them out of 430 years of slavery, took them across the seas without harm, fed them in the scorching desert with food from heaven, lived among them in the tabernacle, counseled them and instructed them in His ways and so much more?
Is that not a reflection of us today when we take for granted all that God has blessed us with and chose to complain about the few giants in our lives?
Are we people of faith or of sight and do we live our lives following a God who is over every storm and giant in our lives?
When Caleb tried to speak sense into the Israelites, they chose to ignore him because what he asked them to do is exercise faith but instead the people of Israel chose to follow their blind leaders and permitted the storms in their lives to decide their future.
The challenge we are faced with today is to accept the fact that our eyes only see what our trembling hearts permit and our minds are controlled by our fears but what we really need is to trust God who is in control of all things and obey His leading.
If you are born again, I pray that you would learn from the errors of the short-sighted Israelites and start listening to God's voice and leading again.
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You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT)
In His Loving Service,
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